Chenoweth Bridge

June 11, 2012 |
[audio:|titles=over the bridge]


“We took them up the highway, over the old covered bridge.”- Don Rice, of Elkins, remembering driving cattle over the Chenoweth Bridge. Many local people who grew up in Beverly or Elkins remember the old Beverly Bridge, built by Lemuel Chenoweth in 1846-1847. Chenoweth was a local carpenter and a self-educated engineer who grew up in Beverly and built many wooden covered bridges, including the famous landmark of Barbour County, the Phillipi Covered Bridge. He is buried at the Beverly Cemetery.

The story goes that Chenoweth rode to Richmond on horseback, with his Hickory wooden model bridge stuffed in a saddlebag, to bid for the job as bridge builder. But he was met with engineers with their nicely polished, professional displays, and his plain wooden model was hardly anything by comparison at first glance. Chenoweth placed his model between two chairs, and then stood on his little bridge and called for the others to do the same with theirs. Not one would do it, and the self made architect returned to West Virginia with the contract to build the bridges.

The wooden covered bridge has been replaced by a modern concrete bridge, but the legacy of Chenoweth’s self taught genius and passion for woodwork are celebrated at the  Lemuel Chenoweth Home and Antique Store, just across from the Beverly bridge.

Don Rice remembers driving cattle across the Beverly Bridge, and the time when it was finally removed.

“As a kid I used to spend time on a farm, between Elkins and Beverly. We would drive the cattle up to Rich Mountain for the summer pasturing. We took them up the highway, over the old covered bridge. Of course it’s long gone. But the first few times we took them through the bridge. It seemed substantial, but you were never sure if it was study enough to support many cattle going through it. Ultimately the covered bridge was removed and demolished.”

June 16th is Chenoweth day in Randolph County, in celebration of the local bridge builder’s birthday.

For more information, contact Randy Allan, 304-636-1953, or the Beverly Heritage Center.

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Category: Elkins to Marlinton, History, Roads & Rails, Stories & Legends

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