Colville Covered Bridge

North Of Paris On Ky 3118
Paris, KY 40361
859-987-8744

One of only 13 covered bridges left in the state, the Colville bridge was built in 1877 in Bourbon County near Paris. It was extensively renovated after it was damaged by floods in 1997 and was recently reopened to traffic and is one of only a handful of covered bridges that can be driven through.

Historical Marker #1566 in Bourbon County tells about the county’s last remaining covered bridge, which is one of the few remaining in the state. Located on the Colville Road, the bridge spans Hinkston Creek near the Harrison County line, about four miles northwest of Millersburg, Kentucky, by the way of Paris Pike, one of the most scenic roadways in the Kentucky Bluegrass Region. This quiet route affords spectacular views of horse farms amidst the historic rock fences that line the road for twelve miles.

The Colville Covered Bridge, one of 13 that remain of more than 400 covered bridges in Kentucky, was constructed in 1877 by Jacob Bower of the Bower Bridge Company of Maysville, Kentucky; about 100 years after the first such bridges were built in Kentucky. At one time there were as many as 27 covered bridges spanning Bourbon County streams. The bridges were built with roofs to protect them from the weather. The covered and timbered spans have played a romantic role in history with many in Kentucky having been destroyed during the Civil War. Today those remaining are a nostalgic link to the past.

The Colville bridge consists of a multiple kingpost truss structure generally spaced 10 feet apart originally built of yellow poplar for its durability. Spanning 124 feet (38 m), the 18 feet (5.5 m) wide, the bridge is situated 28 feet (8.5 m) above the water level in a rural area where vehicular traffic mainly comprises local residents and farm vehicles. Though of sturdy construction, it has needed maintenance and repair over the years.

Two of the repairs were executed by the son and grandson of the original builder, Jacob Bower. During repairs in 1937 the covered bridge was raised to its current height in hope that flooding on Hinkston Creek could be prevented from damaging the structure.

In 1972, an overloaded truck damaged the bridge requiring it to close for about a year while repairs, supervised by Stock Bower, were made by the Bourbon County Road Department. In 1997, record level area flooding raised Hinkston Creek’s crest to 37 feet, several feet above the decking. Either the force of floating debris or the current of the water, or both, caused the bridge to shift on its abutments and pull away from the road. Restoring the bridge required a major renovation of the structure which took two years. Most of the renovation was conducted off site by Intech Engineering using as much of the original material as possible.

Over the years parts of the original bridge required replacing, and painting had occurred due to graffiti damage by vandals. However, during the most recent renovation the bridge was returned as much as possible to its original appearance. A wood shingle roof was put in place along with truss camber and the Bower green and white portal details. Arbitrary changes included an increased roof pitch and a lengthened roof overhang.

A number of reasons have been offered to explain the construction of covered bridges in Kentucky during the 19th century. The protection the cover provided against wood deterioration was likely most important. The yellow poplar used in the construction was thought - at the time - to be almost indestructible when shielded from the weather. The cover allowed timbered trusses and braces to season properly and kept water out of the joints, prolonging the life by seven to eight times that of an uncovered bridge. A second plausible reason is that the boarded sides and shingled roofs prevented horses from seeing the drop to the water below and becoming "spooked".

Haunted Colville Covered Bridge

Stories are told about the bridges as stages for hanging a slave, or hacking off someone’s head, or losing control of a car and crashing into the water below. There are bridge stories about Civil War ambushes and unwanted babies tossed into the water. Such incidents are the source for many ghost stories. Some of the bridge legends include a teenage couple who drowned under the bridge, a Ms. Sarah Mitchell, and one story involving car lights coming up behind a parked car on the bridge.

References

  1. "www.kentuckytourism.com/colville-covered-bridge/"
  2. "en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colville_Covered_Bridge"
  3. "http://americashauntedroadtrip.com/haunted-colville-covered-bridge/"
  4. "http://explorekyhistory.ky.gov/items/show/430"
  5. "www.hopewellmuseum.org/learn/historic-preservation/bourbon-county-historical-markers/colville-covered-bridge/"