Editor’s note: For many years, local historian Jean Wallis provided a feature to The Times-Gazette called “Highland Guidepost.” She is updating and resubmitting some of those articles from time to time, including this one.
The Lynchburg Covered Bridge has spanned the waters of the East Fork of the Little Miami for 146 years.
The bridge has watched the growth and prosperity which the Freiburg-Workum Distillery brought to the village in the latter part of the 19th and early part of the 20th century. Through the years, deterioration of the covered bridge has happened by a lack of interest of the majority.
The bridge had its beginning in the fall of 1869 when a “notice to Contractors” was circulated in both Highland and Clinton counties, advertising the letting of a contract to build a 116’ span bridge over the East Fork of the Little Miami at Lynchburg.
“Sealed proposals will be received at the offices of the Auditors of the counties of Clinton and Highland, State of Ohio, until 12 o’clock on the first day of December, 1869 and also at the Washington House, Lynchburg, until 12 o’clock, on the second day of December, 1869, for furnishing the materials and erecting a highway bridge across the East Fork of the Little Miami River at Lynchburg. Plans and specifications of said bridge can be seen at either of said Auditor’s offices.”
The Washington House was once located on the southwest corner of Broadway and Pearl Streets.
The work must be bid separately, as follows: “On the super-structures, by the feet, lineal, measuring the hub-board; the masonry by the perch of 25 cubic feet; and excavation for abutments, by the cubic yard. The bridge is to be completed by the first day of September, 1870.”
An engineer believed to be Capt. Joshua Gore was hired to draw up specifications and were on file at both auditor’s offices. Gore drew most of the bridge plans and specifications for the Highland County commissioners during that era.
John C. Gregg was the successful bidder on both the substructure and superstructure as found in the Highland County commissioners’ records. Gregg used the Long truss plan. This truss was patented in 1830 by Col. Stephen H. Long of the U.S. Army Topographical Engineers. The Long truss consists of wooden braces and counterbraces in the form of an X between wooden verticals. This is considered to be the first panel truss and the first truss into which mathematical calculations entered.
The cost of the bridge was $3,138.66, Clinton County paying $1,614.38. In the Highland County Commissioners’ records of Dec. 6, 1870, final settlement was made with John C Gregg on various bridges, including the Lynchburg Covered Bridge.
John C. Gregg was actively engaged in building wooden bridges in Highland County during that era. He also built the three-story brick house at 132 East Walnut St. in Hillsboro. The house was home to Dr. Holmes and his wife Florence for many years and is one of the few houses in the county with a mansard-roof.
In March of 1976, the Lynchburg Covered Bridge was entered in the U.S. Department of Interior’s National Register of Historic Places in the United States. The form was prepared by Mariam F. Wood, Ohio Covered Bridge Committee, Columbus, Ohio.
In 1969, the covered bridge was by-passed by a new truss bridge a few hundred feet downstream, built by the Champion Bridge Co., Wilmington, Ohio.
Today the Lynchburg Covered Bridge is the only remaining covered bridge in Highland County and the only one linking two counties in the state. The bridge will need through the years a lot of Tender Loving Care lest it goes by the wayside.