According to information from Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), a project to rehabilitate the historic covered bridge in Lynchburg was set to begin Monday, Jan. 17, and the bridge will remain closed for the duration of the project, which is scheduled to be completed in the fall of this year.
The bridge, originally opened in 1870, spans the east fork of the Little Miami River and connects Highland County and Clinton County. It is the only bridge in the nation that connects two counties and is the last of its kind in Highland County.
The bridge is one of about 150 wooden covered bridges in Ohio listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the federal government’s official list of districts, sites, building, structures and objects deemed worthy of preservation for their historical significance.
Many federal and state agencies recognize the importance of preserving historic bridges because they represent a cultural resource as well as a work of art and provide funding sources.
Lynchburg was awarded $300,000 from the state and $350,000 from the federal government in early 2019 to rebuild the bridge.
It was damaged by a fire on Jan. 29, 2019, that was quickly extinguished by the Lynchburg Area Joint Fire and Ambulance District.
Originally constructed at a cost of $3,138.66, it was built by local bridge builder John C. Gregg of Hillsboro, who had built a number of bridges in the area.
Plans to demolish the bridge were announced in 1963, but support from the local community won its preservation. Ohio Gov. James Rhodes agreed to assist in saving the landmark, but it was ultimately decided that the state had no jurisdiction in the decision because the bridge did not exist on a state highway. The Highland County Board of Commissioners eventually agreed to allow it to remain.
In 1969, when a new bridge was constructed over the Little Miami River, the covered bridge in Lynchburg was retired from active service and closed to traffic. Five years later, 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 brought in $6,000 for repairs. The restoration and renovation was eventually carried out by volunteers.
The bridge was refurbished again between 2003 and 2005, according to a plaque on the bridge.
Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.