Historic Structures

Bridge Description Barrackville Covered Bridge West Virginia

The Barrackville Covered Bridge is a single-span modified Burr arch truss wooden covered bridge on drylaid sandstone abutments. The total length of the truss is 146'-3", with a clear span length of 131'-8". The truss is ll'-8"high center-to-center of the chords and 17'-11" wide center-to-center of the trusses, with a roadway width of 15'-6". Clapboard siding covers the exterior, and standing-seam metal roofing covers the gable roof.

The bridge is poplar and oak framed in the manner patented by Theodore Burr in 1817. The principal structural components are a pair of hewn timber segmented arches framed into and around a pair of multiple kingpost trusses to create an indeterminate composite timber structure. The arches spring from stone skewbacks on the facewall of the abutments, span 131'-8" and rise 13'-8" to the crown. Each arch is composed of 6x14" paired timbers that are notched around and bolted through the posts of the trusses. Upper and lower chords connected by vertical posts and diagonal braces make up the multiple kingpost truss. Each truss has thirteen panels, spaced 10'-2" center-to-center of posts, plus two 6'-7" end panels. The upper chord is paired butt-jointed 7x9" beams. The lower chord is paired, offset butt-jointed 6x12" beams. Vertical posts with notched and belted connections join the chords. The posts are 8x10" wooden timbers framed through arch and lower chord. The diagonals are 7x8" timbers, which are notched into the posts and pinned with treenails. In this particular example, the builders used a variation of the Burr truss design by putting cross bracing in the center and end panels.

Transverse wooden floor beams notched into the top of the lower chord at each panel point make up the floor system. Threaded adjustable tension rods have been added under each floor beam. There are 3x12" plank stringers laid diagonally on top of the floor beams, and 2x4" plank flooring is laid transversely on the stringers. A secondary roadway deck of stringers and floorboards sits on top of the primary deck.

Dimensioned lumber frames the upper lateral system. Tie beams are fastened to the tops of extensions on each post and frame into the rafters. There are sway braces between the posts and tie beams, and diagonal cross bracing (4x7" timbers) between the tie beams. The rafters frame from the ends of the tie beams. Standing-seam metal roofing fastened to wood purlins on top of the rafters covers the gable roof.

Wood clapboards cover the exterior of the bridge to about 2' below the eaves. The outer faces of the arches extend just beyond the face of the sheathing. The portals have projecting pediments with arched openings and pilaster moldings on the outer faces of the endposts.

The abutments are drylaid, cut ashlar sandstone. The lower chords of the bridge rest on bedding timbers on top of the facewall. The backwall above the abutment and behind the bedding timbers serves as a retainer for the roadbed. Stone wingwalls extend from the backwall along the roadway at both ends of the bridge.

Although many covered bridges were built in West Virginia in the mid nineteenth century, most of them (with the exception of the Barrackville and Philippi bridges) did not survive the Civil War. According to the World Guide to Covered Bridges, West Virginia presently has seventeen surviving covered bridges, with construction dates ranging from 1853 to 1911, the majority (58 percent) being built between 1881 and 1899. The Barrackville Covered Bridge is one of three Burr arch-trusses in West Virginia, and one of three surviving examples of the work of Lemuel Chenoweth, a prolific West Virginia bridge builder.