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Covered Bridges in Virginia



Humpback Bridge - Virginia's Oldest Covered Bridge. Photos courtesy of VDOT.

In memory or imagination, covered bridges conjure up sights and sounds of days gone by. In Virginia, they began to dot the countryside nearly two centuries ago. Spanning rivers and streams, their number grew to the hundreds.

Eventually they gave way to their vulnerability to flood and fire, and to the technology that replaced the wooden peg with the metal bolt and the broadtimbers with narrow steel. By 1900, the overhead steel truss bridge had become the engineers’ design of choice.

Relatively few covered bridges survived into the early years of the 20th century. Most of them reflected the evolution in design of three pioneers in the annals of bridge construction:

Theodore Burr, who patented the Burr arch bridge in 1817

Ithiel Town, who patented the Town lattice design in 1835

William Howe, who in 1840 patented a design that combined iron uprights with wooden supports

Today in Virginia, only seven covered bridges still stand. Four have been preserved as landmarks and three are on private property. You are invited to visit these picturesque structures that span time as well as water.

Humpback Bridge – Virginia’s Oldest Covered Bridge

The venerable Humpback Bridge lays claim to being the oldest of Virginia’s remaining covered bridges.

Located in Alleghany County, just west of Covington, it was built in 1857.

It was part of the James River and Kanawha Turnpike and succeeds three other bridges at the site.

It stretches over Dunlap Creek, a tributary of the Jackson River that joins the Cowpasture River near Iron Gate to form the James River.

The first structure was built in the 1820s and was washed away by a flood on May 12, 1837.

The second fell victim to the flood of July 13, 1842.

The third, as the annual report of the turnpike company put it, “gave way” in 1856.

The 100-foot-long, single-span structure is four feet higher at its center than it is at either end, thus the name, “Humpback”.

Traffic across the bridge ceased in 1929 when it was replaced with a “modern” steel truss bridge.

The bridge stood derelict — and was even used by a nearby farmer to store hay — until the 1950s.

The Business and Professional Women’s Club of Covington and the Covington Chamber of Commerce raised funds to have the bridge restored and preserved as part of Alleghany County’s history.

Humpback Bridge was reopened to the public in 1954 as the centerpiece of an attractive wayside.

In the summer of 2013, the Humpback Bridge underwent additional restorations using funds from the National Historic Covered Bridge Program.

Humpback Bridge can be reached from Interstate 64 by taking exit 10 to Route 60 and traveling one-half mile east, or by taking Route 60 west from Covington.


Meem’s Bottom Bridge

Meem’s Bottom Bridge

One of the best-known covered bridges is the 204-foot single-span Burr arch truss known as Meem’s Bottom in Shenandoah County.

Here it is possible to step back into the past, while less than a half-mile away the hum of modern-day traffic can beheard on Interstate 81.

The site takes its name from the Meem family that owned large landholdings in the area. This long span over the North Fork of the river carried traffic for more than 80 years before being burned by vandals on Halloween in 1976.

After salvaging the original timbers, the bridge was reconstructed and eventually undergirded with steel beams and concrete piers.

Succeeding several earlier bridges, the Meem’s Bottom Bridge was built in 1894. Materials were cut and quarried nearby for the massive arch supports and stone abutments, which extend 10 feet below the riverbed.

Previous bridges in this spot were washed away in the floods of 1870 and 1877. The next bridge, built in 1878, stood until it was replaced by the present bridge.

The bridge is reached easily from Interstate 81 at exit 269 between New Market and Mount Jackson. Follow Route 730 from the interchange for four-tenths of a mile to Route 11. Go north on Route 11 for nine-tenths of a mile to Route 720 and the west a short distance to the river.

It also can be reached off Route 11, four miles north of New Market and about two miles south of Mount Jackson.

Bob White Bridge

Bob White Bridge

On Sept. 29, 2015, the Bob White Covered Bridge was washed away during a flood.

In an effort to raise funds to rebuild the bridge, various events and fundraisers are being steered by the Covered Bridge Committee, a 501(C)3 organization in Patrick County.

Their plan is to rebuild the bridge with timber to match the original design and create a replica and historical kiosk from remnants of the bridge that were found after the flood.


Jack’s Creek Bridge

Jack’s Creek Bridge

Jack’s Creek Bridge crosses the Smith River in Patrick County on Route 615 just west of Route 8, about two miles south of Woolwine. The 48-foot span, built in 1914, has been replaced by a modern bridge but is being retained.

Jack’s Creek Bridge can be seen from Route 8 at its intersection with Route 615, or it can be reached by turning west two-tenths of a mile on Route 615.




Sinking Creek Bridge

Sinking Creek Bridge

The Sinking Creek Bridge (also known as Clover Hollow Bridge), a 70-foot span currently maintained by Giles County, was left in place for the property owner when a new bridge was built in 1949. It was built circa 1916 with modified Howe trusses.

The bridge is located just off Route 601 between Route 42 and Route 700, north of Route 460.

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The ‘big four’ driver distractions



Returning from vacation, you were pretty proud of yourself for negotiating all the interstates without a wrong turn. But then your seatmate engaged you in an interesting conversation, and what happened? You missed your exit.

Distraction. That interesting conversation not only made you miss a turn, it put you and your passengers in danger. If a situation occurred that required fast action, could you have avoided an accident?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission, four distinct types of distraction affect a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely.

Auditory distractions include conversations with passengers and listening to music or audiobooks.

Visual distractions include such activities as looking at the scenery and checking out other cars.

Biomechanical distractions are activities such as adjusting the air conditioning, dialing a cellphone, using day planners, making notes, and eating.

Cognitive distractions include whatever is taking your mind off the road and driving. Examples are preoccupation with other thoughts, worrying, and planning what you will do later.

Cell phones, especially texting, are unique in that they encompass all four modes of driver distraction, say experts at Dynamic Science, a private research organization.

Research on cell phone use crashes shows that drivers often run off the road or hit something stopped in front of them, neither of which would happen if they were paying attention.

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How to pack your vehicle for a road trip



Are you going on a long road trip? Here are a few tips on how to organize your luggage.

Load heavy objects lower in your vehicle, and pack larger items at the back and smaller ones near the front. Fill in the gaps with bags and soft pieces. If your trunk isn’t separate from the cab, don’t stack items above the height of the back headrest. This will prevent things from falling over the seat if you suddenly hit the brakes.

Roof rack
Consult the manufacturer’s recommended weight capacity for your vehicle before loading your roof rack. In any case, avoid placing heavy items on the roof of your car. Store them in the trunk instead. Place the heaviest items against the roof bars and ensure the load is well balanced and securely strapped down.

Place heavy items on or close to the floor and as centrally as possible. Store light items on either side of the trailer, taking care not to obstruct your vision. Make sure you don’t exceed the vehicle’s load and towing capacity. Safely secure the items so nothing falls off or gets blown away. If your car’s rear suspension feels saggy, your load isn’t properly balanced and could negatively affect your handling.

Keep your vehicle’s registration, itinerary, tickets, sunglasses, tissues, games, bottled water, and snacks in the cab. Of course, try to leave enough space for everyone to sit comfortably.

Have a great holiday!

If you’re carrying luggage in a roof box, make sure you know the total height of your vehicle with the roof box to avoid getting in an accident.

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How to clean your tires and wheels



Cleaning your vehicle’s tires and wheels does more than make your car look good. Manufacturers recommend cleaning your tires every other week. Cleaning removes brake dust, rotor shavings, and road salt, all of which can shorten the lifespan of your tires. Here’s how to properly clean your car’s tires and wheels.

What you’ll need
Have these products ready to go:

• Bucket and warm water
• Clean cloths
• Hose and spray nozzle
• Medium-bristled brush
• Toothbrush
• Dish soap

Step 1: Rinse
Wash the tires one at a time to keep the surface wet while you work. Get rid of any loose dirt with a quick spray of your hose. Spray from various angles to remove the most debris from the wheels.

Step 2: Wash the tires
Work on the tires first because the dirty water will soil the wheels. Scrub the tires with a brush, warm water, and dish soap. Allow the soapy water to soften the grime on the tires before rinsing. Repeat this step if necessary and rinse out your brush when finished.

Step 3: Wash the rims
Wash the rims using the brush, warm water, and dish soap. Use an old toothbrush to get into tight areas. Repeat if necessary. After rinsing, thoroughly dry the wheel and the tires with a clean cloth.

With shiny tires and wheels, your car is in showroom shape, and you’ll give your tires a few more miles on the road.

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Is it safe for young children to sit in the front seat?



Although it may seem logical to place your young child in the front seat of your car to keep an eye on them, you might want to think again.

The back seat is safest
While legislation varies throughout North America, the safest place for your child is the back seat, away from active airbags. In a head-on collision, the front airbag will restrain the head and abdomen of an adult. When a child sits in the passenger seat, the airbag deploys at head level, potentially causing severe neck and head injuries. The sheer force of airbag deployment is enough to harm a child seriously.

Airbag deactivation
Today, many vehicles are equipped with a mechanism that momentarily deactivates the passenger-side airbag if a child is sitting there. If your car doesn’t have this feature, and you must put your child in the front seat, make sure to move the front seat as far back from the airbag deployment zone as possible. You may also want to consider permanently deactivating the airbag.

Correctly using a car seat is one of the best steps you can take to protect your child in a crash.

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Fleet managers turn to electric cars



Hertz recently inked a deal to buy 65,000 electric vehicles from startup Polestar over five years. The city of Houston, meanwhile, purchased a hundred electrics to replace aging gas autos, and Amazon wants to put 100,000 battery-powered delivery trucks on the road.

Wondering why these cars are so popular with fleets? Let’s take a spin.

Up front, adopting electrical vehicles may boost a company’s sustainability, which, in turn, could help with branding. However, the benefits of EVs for fleets run far deeper than marketing.

Wakefield Research polled 300 fleet managers and found that 44 percent believed that electric vehicles will reduce fuel costs. While charging an electric vehicle isn’t free, it’s currently cheaper to fill a battery than a gas tank.

EVs are potentially easier to maintain. With combustion engines, you have to worry about not just gasoline, but also oil and spark plugs, both non-issues with electric cars. Pretty much all combustion vehicles need transmission fluid, while many (but not all) electric vehicles skip transmissions altogether, making fluid unnecessary.

Moving parts are also prone to breaking down, and repairs can be costly. If a transmission goes out, you’ll have to shell out thousands to replace it. Cracked cylinder heads and rusted exhaust systems, among other things, also cost hefty sums to repair. Ultimately, Wakefield Research reports that 85 percent of current EV owners reported that traditional vehicles are more expensive to maintain.

With fewer moving engine/transmission parts, electric cars can relieve potential headaches. Still, this doesn’t mean that EVs provide a free ride. Upfront costs for electric vehicles are typically higher. And while batteries often last hundreds of thousands of miles, they do lose capacity over time and are expensive to replace. Charging times can also stretch on for hours.

Still, all told, electric cars offer a compelling option for fleet managers.

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What to do when your engine overheats



Your dashboard temperature light is on, and there’s steam coming from under the hood — sure signs that your engine is overheating. When that happens, you need to act quickly to prevent permanent damage to your vehicle. Here’s what to do when your engine overheats.

Turn off the AC and turn up the heat
If your air conditioner is working, turn it off. The AC puts a lot of stress on the engine. Then turn the car’s heater on full blast. The heater will cool the engine by sucking hot air from the motor and blowing it into the cabin. You may sweat a bit, but it could save your car.

Pull over and stop the engine
Find a safe place to pull over and turn your hazard lights on. Stop the engine and wait at least 15 minutes until lifting the hood. Watch the dashboard temperature gauge to determine when the engine has cooled to normal levels.

Add coolant
If you have spare coolant in your vehicle, top up the reservoir. Adding water will do the trick in an emergency, but you’ll have to drive slowly to avoid overheating again.

Get to a mechanic
Start your engine and drive slowly to your nearest automotive repair shop. If the engine overheats again, pull over and let it cool.

An overheating engine needs a professional repair. A mechanic can determine the cause of your problem and get you back on the road.

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Upcoming Events

6:00 pm Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Aug 12 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
…and be sure to attend our Fourth of July event!
9:30 am Forest Bathing Walk @ Sky Meadows State Park
Forest Bathing Walk @ Sky Meadows State Park
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Forest Bathing Walk @ Sky Meadows State Park
Picnic Area Join Kim Strader, ANFT Certified Nature and Forest Therapy Guide, for a gentle walk (no more than a mile or two) where we will wander and sit. Through a series of invitations and[...]
11:00 am Monarch Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Monarch Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Aug 13 @ 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
Monarch Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Carriage Barn in the Historic Area Habitat loss has caused Monarch butterfly populations to reach dangerously low numbers. Join the Park Naturalist and Virginia Master Naturalists as they set out to collect Monarch caterpillars and[...]
2:00 pm Pregnancy Center’s Community Bab... @ Living Water Christian Church
Pregnancy Center’s Community Bab... @ Living Water Christian Church
Aug 13 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Pregnancy Center's Community Baby Shower @ Living Water Christian Church
The Living Water Christian Church of the Shenandoah Valley is having a “Community Baby Shower” in support of the Pregnancy Center of Front Royal. We are inviting the public to attend and bring wrapped gifts[...]
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Aug 17 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
7:00 pm Appalachian Chamber Music Festiv... @ Barns of Rose Hill
Appalachian Chamber Music Festiv... @ Barns of Rose Hill
Aug 18 @ 7:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Appalachian Chamber Music Festival - Opening Night @ Barns of Rose Hill
The Appalachian Chamber Music Festival is delighted to be returning to the Barns of Rose Hill on Thursday, August 18, at 7pm, for the opening night concert of our 2022 summer season. The festival celebrates[...]
6:00 pm Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Aug 19 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
…and be sure to attend our Fourth of July event!
11:00 am National Honeybee Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
National Honeybee Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Aug 20 @ 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
National Honeybee Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area The bees are buzzing at Sky Meadows State Park! Meet the Beekeepers of Northern Shenandoah as they perform a honey extraction. Learn about beekeeping, honeybees and the art of apiculture. Support beekeeping and[...]
12:00 pm Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
Aug 21 @ 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
Carriage Barn in the Historic Area. What’s that buzzing? Meet with local apiarists of the Beekeepers of Northern Shenandoah (BONS) and discover the art of Apiculture (a.k.a. Beekeeping). This monthly program series examines all aspects[...]