Center Point Covered Bridge, Center Point West Virginia
The Center Point Covered Bridge is is one of only 17 Covered bridges remaining in West Virginia. It is the remnant of a unique and once flourishing engineering form, the American timbered covered bridge. Such bridges once carried a huge volume of the traffic in rural areas and small towns of America. It was the timber truss mode of covered bridges (such as Center Point's Long system of 4"x" panels) that gave rise to the all metal truss bridge that is also recognized as an American contribution to world engineering. The Center Point Covered Bridge is the only remaining covered bridge in Doddridge County.
On July 13, 1888, the Doddridge County Court ordered that G.W. Ice be appointed a commissioner to supply specifications for a bridge to span the Middle Fork of McElroy Creek in the McClellan District. Ice was also ordered to advertise and let out the contract for building the bridge and to superintend the construction. The records indicate that T.W. Ancell and E. Underwood built abutments and John Ash and S.H. Smith built superstructures for at least two bridges in the McClellan District.
The Center Point Covered Bridge is 12.6 feet wide and is 42.1 feet in length. It has board-and-batten siding and a sheet metal roof.
The trusses are of the patented Long type, and have 4 panels, each 12 feet high and having an average length of 10 feet-4 inches. Each panel has two-4x8 inch diagonals angled toward the center post, and a 4x6 inch single diagonal, fitting between and pinned to the double diagonals, sloping away from the center post. The diagonals fit flush against the top and bottom chord, which consists of two-4x8 inch and two-5x1l½ inch members, and the single diagonals, protrude through and are pinned to the top and bottom chord.
Deterioration of the Center Point Covered Bridge reached a serious level by autumn, 1981. The main source of difficulty was the bottom chord on the downstream truss which was broken. As a result of this failure, the entire bridge racked sideways, listing in the downstream direction. Other restoration problems included several faulty floor beams and water damage to major truss timbers from the leaky roof.
Restoration, beginning in autumn 1981, and ending in June 1982, was carefully carried out following the acquisition of the bridge by the Doddridge Historical Society. The work was inspected by the noted historic bridge authority, Dr. Emory L. Kemp, West Virginia University, and approved.
Restoration work was undertaken on the roof which was replaced with a duplicate standing seam sheathing. Bottom chord replacement on the downstream side was accomplished when piling systems were placed beneath the superstructure to shore up the structure during the restoration phase. Missing boards and battens were replaced and the bridge siding was repaired. No alterations to structural features were necessary, and replacement of several timber pieces was accomplished with the substitution of new wood of correct dimensions and type.
The Center Point Covered Bridge spans Pikes Fork at the end of a now-unused access road. The setting is appropriate to the rustic integrity of the bridge as low vegetation and mowed fields allow for an unobscured view in all directions. While the bridge is no longer used for regular vehicular traffic, it is occasionally used by local farm vehicles (tractors, haywagons) and pedestrians.