Vinton County Residents React To Destruction Of Historic Bridge

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In the days following the fire, people have been visiting the site of the historic bridge with many expressing sadness over losing the landmark structure.

Though the bridge had been closed to vehicle traffic for many years, County Commissioner Mike Bledsoe said the county spent money over the years to maintain the structure. Bledsoe emphasized the historical importance of the county’s covered bridges as well as the value of the bridges to tourism.

“The county is all about covered bridges and we’ve lost the oldest one. You can build it back, but the historical value is lost,” Bledsoe said.

Sam Davidson, Vinton County Marketing Director was also saddened by the loss of the historic structure.

“I think it’s a shame. The county’s covered bridges have been a tourist attraction for many years and are an important part of the county’s history,” Davidson said.

Kim Williams said her daughter Courtnee visited the bridge just two days before the fire with her grandmother. Courtnee had taken photographs of the bridge for a 4-H project. Williams was reminded of the times she had gone swimming in Raccoon Creek near the bridge.

“When I was young, we would go swimming in the creek and sometimes jump off the bridge, even though we knew better, “Williams said.

On Saturday, as cars slowly passed by, people gathered at the site to survey the damage. Two local residents were at the bridge and expressed sadness combined with anger over the fire and reminisced about the Humpback. The couple identified themselves only as life-long residents of Wilkesville.

“Living around here all your life just makes it sad to see. People enjoyed swimming in the creek and the beauty of the waterfall,” the woman said.

Her companion seemed to be in a less reflective mood and hoped authorities could provide some answers.

“It seems like we can’t have anything nice around here and I hope they find out how this happened,” he said.

This comment was posted to The Courier's Photo Gallery:

“On behalf of fellow-members of the Ohio Historic Bridge Association, the National Society for the Preservation of Covered Bridges, and other organizations which promote preservation of our heritage, our condolences to the citizens of Vinton County and all of the area on this sad loss. Please consider adding protection to your remaining covered bridges to prevent another such awful event.”

“It certainly appears that this tragic loss was not the result of any accident. Those with such an utter disregard for the heritage of their society and community as to destroy an ancient landmark need to be brought to justice. Sadly, it will not restore this unique structure.”

From The Courier Facebook page: “The roof was red, I guessed it burned off. This is sickening. I hope they find who did this,” wrote Doug Chapman of Columbus.