History of the Barrackville Covered Bridge

covered bridge painted red with a white historic marker by the bridge
Barrackville is the home to the second oldest covered bridge in West Virginia and the first such bridge in Marion County.
Barrackville was founded in 1767 by William “Indian Billy” Ice and named in honor of an early settler, John Barrack.
Originally built in 1853 by West Virginia’s pioneer bridge builders Eli and Lemuel Chenoweth, this 148-foot single-lane bridge is an example of a modified Burr truss in near original condition. Construction of the bridge aligned with that of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad reaching Barrackville as part of the Fairmont & Wheeling Turnpike.
The only hostile army ever in Marion County history crossed this bridge on the morning of April 29, 1863, during the height of the Civil War. General William E. “Grumble” Jones initially intended to destroy the bridge but decided to spare it with persuasion from the Ice family, nearby mill owners, and Southern sympathizers. However, two other B&O bridges in the area were destroyed by “Jones Raiders”.

The Jones–Imboden Raid was a Confederate military action conducted in western Virginia (now the state of West Virginia) in April and May 1863 during the Civil War. The raid, led by Brig. Gens. William E. Jones and John D. Imboden, was aimed at disrupting traffic on the vital Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and reasserting Confederate authority in trans mountain Virginia in an effort to derail the growing statehood movement in the region since voters had in March approved a new Constitution and statehood only awaited Congressional and Presidential approval.

Raiders claimed success from a military vantage since they severely damaged several railroad bridges (though not the two most critical), as well as an oil field and other critical Union resources. Raiders also captured valuable supplies and gained recruits. From a political standpoint, however, the raid failed, for it had little effect on pro-statehood sentiment, and West Virginia was admitted as the 35th state of the Union in June.

Built at a cost of $1,852, the Barrackville Covered Bridge remained in use for over 130 years. It was the only covered bridge in the state that supported traffic loads without the use of modern reinforcement, a tribute to the expert craftsmanship of the Chenoweth brothers. It has been said that the 159-year old engineering marvel was built by the most talented bridge builder in America.
The Barrackville Covered Bridge, using a 145-foot long modified Burr truss (which integrates an arch into the truss framework), was fully restored in 1999 and has been bypassed with a modern road and bridge. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1981.
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