Lynchburg bridge rededicated


A covered bridge that has stood watch over its community for 153 years was rededicated during a special ceremony Saturday at Ruth Cramton Memorial Park in Lynchburg where actors in period costumes portrayed characters from some of the bridge’s 15-plus decades.

The Lynchburg Covered Bridge is a covered long truss over the East Fork Little Miami River in that connects Clinton and Highland counties that stand on opposite sides of the bridge.

Sealed bids were requested for a covered bridge over the East Fork Little Miami River in Lynchburg on October 11, 1869, which was built by local bridge builder John C. Gregg of Hillsboro in December 1870 at the cost of $3,139.

In 1963, plans were made to remove the bridge and replace it with a conventional uncovered crossing. A letter-writing campaign for its preservation, with the backing of Ohio Governor James A. Rhodes, led the Highland County Board of Commissioners to agree to let the covered bridge to remain in place. A new crossing of the East Fork Little Miami River was built nearby in 1969, and the Lynchburg Covered Bridge was converted into a pedestrian-only crossing.

In 1974, high winds ripped most of the roof off of the bridge and damaged some of the structural elements. Materials for repairs were donated soon afterward, and the Lynchburg Historical Foundation launched a fundraising campaign for additional work that was needed. More than $6,000 was raised and the bridge’s renovation was completed by volunteers.

The Lynchburg Covered Bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 16, 1976. It remains one of eight surviving covered long truss bridges in the state at the time of the designation.

The bridge was extensively rehabilitated between July 2003 and June 2005.

The Lynchburg Covered Bridge and the surrounding Ruth Cramton Memorial Park has become a center for social gatherings and activities for the greater Lynchburg community. Saturday’s activities unfolded in front of a crowd at the park and lunch was provided afterward.

Since the 1980s several major seasonal events have called the historic bridge home, including several annual covered bridge festivals, Civil War re-enactments, car shows, motor cycle gatherings, and many local social bazaars.

In the 1980s the Highland County/Clinton County rivalry culminated in both counties gathering at the bridge, which covers the boundary between the two at its center, for a tug of war contest that became quite the local community event.

The bridge was completed in December 1870.

In 1963, plans were announced to demolish the bridge. A communitywide debate arose over the proposed demolition, and a letter writing campaign for its preservation was begun. Ohio Governor James A. Rhodes agreed to assist in saving the landmark, but it was ultimately decided that the state had no jurisdiction in the matter, since the bridge did not exist on a state highway. The Highland County Board of Commissioners eventually agreed, after strong community input, to allow the bridge to remain in place.

In 1974 the bridge sustained severe storm damage when high winds blew most of the roof into the Little Miami River. Materials were donated for repairs and the Lynchburg Historical Foundation launched a fundraising campaign, which raised a further $6,000 for repairs.

“This structure has stood for 153 years and we can only hope it stand for another 153,” one of the emcees, Chris Hamlin, said during the program.

Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.

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