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Covered Bridges in Virginia

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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.

Restoration
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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How accurate is your speedometer?

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It’s a good idea to check the accuracy of your car’s speedometer every so often to ensure you’re not driving faster or slower than you think. Speedometers rely on sensors located inside your vehicle’s transmission to measure how fast the wheels spin. Therefore, improperly inflated or worn tires can cause your speedometer to malfunction.

How to test your speedometer
To test your speedometer you’ll need a stopwatch, a friend, and a stretch of road with mile markers along with it. Start the test by driving at a steady speed and ask your companion to start the stopwatch as you pass a highway marker.

Once you’ve passed 10 markers (10 miles), have your friend pause the stopwatch and take note of how long it took you to travel the distance.

To determine your speed, divide 60 (the number of minutes in an hour) by the number of minutes it took you to drive the 10 miles, and then multiply this figure by the distance you traveled. For example, your equation might be:


60 ÷ 10 minutes x 10 miles = 60 miles per hour

You can also use a smartphone app that uses GPS to calculate speed, such as Google Maps, to get a better idea of how fast you’re going.

Don’t panic if your speedometer isn’t right on. If it’s off by two or three miles per hour, just keep that discrepancy in mind when you’re driving so you don’t inadvertently speed. In fact, in the United States, it’s acceptable for your speedometer to be off by up to four percent. However, if your speedometer is off by more than five miles per hour, it’s a good idea to bring it to a mechanic to have it inspected and recalibrated.

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4 driving mistakes to avoid in winter

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At times, driving conditions in winter can be treacherous. Consequently, it’s important to always remain vigilant when you’re behind the wheel. In addition, try to avoid making these four dangerous blunders.

1. Using cruise control
The cruise control function on your car and slippery roads don’t mix. In fact, instead of slowing down your vehicle if it loses traction, this feature will accelerate your car to ensure it maintains a constant speed. This is a recipe for disaster, as you could easily lose control.

2. Running on empty
If you park your car outdoors with a near-empty tank of gas, condensation could form in your tank and freeze. This could damage your car’s internal mechanisms. In addition, if you get stuck in a traffic jam or unexpected situation, you could easily find yourself stranded.

3. Changing lanes unnecessarily
By changing lanes, you risk skidding on a patch of black ice or sinking into a snowdrift. Overtaking another vehicle is especially dangerous on bridges and overpasses, as these freeze quickly due to their increased exposure to the elements. It’s best to simply stay in your lane when driving in severe weather conditions.


4. Relying solely on all-wheel drive
Although vehicles with four-wheel drive generally react well in bad weather conditions, they don’t automatically keep you safe. It’s important to always remain vigilant when driving on winter roads.

Avoiding these mistakes can help keep you and other road users safe. In addition, make sure you maintain a safe following distance and adjust your speed to suit the road conditions.

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What to do if you crash into a power pole

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If you crash into a power pole, you run the risk of suffering a life-threatening electrical shock if you attempt to leave your vehicle. Even if the power line hasn’t fallen over or you don’t notice any sparking, it could still be energized. The best thing to do is remain in your vehicle, call 911 and wait for emergency crews to secure the scene.

The only time you should leave your vehicle after crashing into a power pole is if it’s on fire. This rarely happens, but if it does, carefully open the door, place both feet on the running board and jump clear of the vehicle. Make sure to keep your arms close to your body to avoid touching the vehicle and the ground at the same time. Once you’re out, squeeze both feet together and hop at least 35 feet away from the burning vehicle. This will prevent electricity from flowing through your body if the ground is energized.

Finally, if you’ve crashed into a power pole and someone tries to offer you help, tell them to stay away.

If you crash into a power pole, try to remain calm. In the panic and confusion of the accident, you could easily fail to notice a fallen power line.



 

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3 great reasons to wash your car in winter

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Do you regularly clean your car in winter? If not, here are three great reasons to start.

1. Increase visibility
If your headlights and taillights become caked with dirt, grime, and slush, it makes it difficult to see and be seen while on the road. Additionally, it’s important to regularly clean the outside of your vehicle to keep your rear and side windows from becoming streaky and limiting your visibility.

2. Prevent rust
Road salt is corrosive and, if not promptly washed off, can cause your car to rust. You need to be especially careful if you park your vehicle in a heated garage, as the increased humidity can mix with the road salt and quickly eat away at the metal body. Remember to clean the underside of your vehicle or look for a car wash in your area that offers a high-pressure undercarriage wash.

3. Enjoy a smooth ride
It’s important to check that there isn’t any snow or debris left in your tire tread or wheel wells before hitting the road. This can throw your tires off balance and cause your car to vibrate uncontrollably. Regularly washing your car can help prevent this from happening.


Periodically cleaning your car in winter will ensure it stays in good condition and is safe to drive. You should aim to wash your vehicle at least once a month.

To prevent your doors from freezing shut after going through the car wash, wipe down the seals around the door frames and trunk. You should also make sure that no water has pooled around the locks.

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Backup cameras 101

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As of 2018, all new cars sold in North America must be equipped with a backup camera. If your car doesn’t already have one, you may want to consider purchasing an after-market model to help make your driving experience safer and more enjoyable.

Benefits of backup cameras
Backup cameras are especially helpful when reversing, parallel parking, or backing out of a parking space. They expand your field of vision and give you an accurate view of any obstacles behind your car. Additionally, the wide-angle camera drastically minimizes blind spots. Despite these advantages, you should still conduct a shoulder check and use your side and rearview mirrors to check your surroundings.

How backup cameras work
Backup cameras use colored lines to help you gauge the distance between your car and whatever’s behind it. These lines also give you a better idea of the width of your vehicle. It’s important to know what the different colored lines on your specific backup camera indicate to ensure you’re using it properly.

If you need advice on which backup camera is right for you, visit your local electronics retailer.



To improve visibility, regularly wipe off your backup camera, especially after driving through mud or slush.

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4 driving hazards to watch out for in winter

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Winter driving poses many unique challenges. Here are four hazards to be aware of when getting behind the wheel in winter.

1. Reduced visibility
Between blowing snow and glare from the sun, your visibility can be dramatically reduced in the winter. Consequently, make sure your windshield is defrosted and clean, wipe down your headlights and sweep any accumulated snow off your car before hitting the road.

2. Poor traction
Wet, icy, and snow-covered roads can significantly reduce your traction. Therefore, it’s important to invest in a high-quality set of winter tires to help you maintain control of your vehicle. If your car starts to slip, slow down, avoid braking hard and steer smoothly.

3. Speeding
Driving slowly during the winter is crucial, as it’s much harder to control your vehicle on ice and snow-covered roads if you’re moving too fast. No matter what the posted speed limit, adjust your speed to suit the conditions.



4. Distracted driving
Winter roads leave little margin for error, and distracted driving can affect your judgment, ability to concentrate, and reaction time. Make sure you stay focused on the road at all times and watch out for other motorists who may not be paying attention.

Taking these precautions can help you stay safe and avoid getting into an accident. However, before the first snowfall, make sure to also restock your car’s emergency kit, just in case.

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Senior Painting Class with Dottie @ Strokes of Creativity
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Senior Painting Class with Dottie at Strokes of Creativity. Tickets: CLICK HERE Cost: $80 for 6 weeks Dates: Thursdays – Oct 21, Oct 28, Nov 4, Nov 11, Nov 18, Dec 4 Time: 10 am[...]
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The Nutcracker 2021 @ Skyline High School
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The Nutcracker 2021 @ Skyline High School
Italia Performing Arts is pleased to announce its own student production of the seasonal ballet The Nutcracker, to be presented in Front Royal, VA, on Saturday, December 4th, 2021. 1:00 and 5:00 pm Tickets: $35[...]
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Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
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Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
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4:00 pm Sweeter, Still… Holiday Concert @ First Baptist Church of Winchester
Sweeter, Still… Holiday Concert @ First Baptist Church of Winchester
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Sweeter, Still… Holiday Concert @ First Baptist Church of Winchester
Sunday, December 5, 2021 4:00pm First Baptist Church of Winchester 205 West Piccadilly St. | Winchester, VA 22601 COVID-19 Guidelines: Masks are required for attendees Friday, December 10, 2021 7:30pm Front Royal United Methodist Church[...]
6:30 pm Annual Christmas Concert @ Riverton United Methodist Church
Annual Christmas Concert @ Riverton United Methodist Church
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Annual Christmas Concert @ Riverton United Methodist Church
Riverton Church Symphonic Winds present their Annual Christmas Concert at Riverton UMC on Sunday, December 5, 2021, at 6:30pm. Donations collected to benefit local homeless ministry.
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Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
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Clara, Little Mouse, and the Gol... @ Skyline Middle School
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Dancing By His Grace Classical Ballet Ensemble presents Clara, Little Mouse, and the Golden Key, featuring selections from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet, at the Skyline Middle School in Front Royal, Virginia. Join us for our original[...]
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Glory Bea: A Shenandoah Christma... @ LFCC's William H. McCoy Theatre
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GLORY BEA: A Shenandoah Christmas Story, by Rich Follett and Larry Dahlke, set in the 1930’s in the Shenandoah Valley and the Depression has hit the valley residents. This story is being presented by Selah[...]
7:30 pm Sweeter, Still… Holiday Concert @ Front Royal United Methodist Church
Sweeter, Still… Holiday Concert @ Front Royal United Methodist Church
Dec 10 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Sweeter, Still… Holiday Concert @ Front Royal United Methodist Church
Friday, December 10, 2021 7:30pm Front Royal United Methodist Church 1 West Main Street | Front Royal, VA 22630 COVID-19 Guidelines: Masks are required for attendees Sunday, December 12, 2021 4:00pm Trinity Episcopal Church 9108[...]
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2:00 pm Clara, Little Mouse, and the Gol... @ Skyline Middle School
Clara, Little Mouse, and the Gol... @ Skyline Middle School
Dec 11 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Clara, Little Mouse, and the Golden Key @ Skyline Middle School
Dancing By His Grace Classical Ballet Ensemble presents Clara, Little Mouse, and the Golden Key, featuring selections from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet, at the Skyline Middle School in Front Royal, Virginia. Join us for our original[...]