Spanning Raccoon Creek on Covered Bridge, four miles southwest of Wilkesville in Vinton County, the Ponn Humpback Covered Bridge was one of the biggest tourist attractions of the six covered bridges. At 180 feet, the multiple-span kingpost truss bridge was the longest that existed in the county, built in 1874 by Martin McGrath and Lyman Wells and was bypassed by a pony truss bridge built in 2008, with the historic structure being converted into a pedestrian trail. Now the bridge is nothing but a memory.
Vinton County officials are looking for information and leads that will eventually result in the arrest and conviction of person(s) responsible for a fire, which destroyed the entire structure on 6 June. The reward is set at up to $5000. According to county officials, the incident ocurred during the morning hours and the structure burned to the ground. The bridge, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is considered a total loss. It is unknown whether the bridge will be rebuilt or not, but county and state officials will look into those options.
Prior to the arson, suspicion of parties involving alcohol and campfires had been reported by many passers-by which included litter and beer cans. It was a question of time before a fire caught the covered bridge and brought it down. That day unfortunately came and now the county is grieving over the loss of an important structure which many people visited while passing through Vinton County. This is the second fire this year that destroyed a historic bridge. A fire at a wooden viaduct in Texas last month destroyed the entire structure (a video can be found here).
If you have any information useful to the case, please contact the Vinton County Sheriff’s Office at: 740-592-5242 or the Ohio State Fire Marshal (which is overseeing the case) at: 1-800-579-2728 The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will keep you posted on the latest involving the bridge.
Links to the bridge can be found through the Bridgehunter website by clicking on here.
Doug Chapman and Bill Eichenberger have provided some pictures of the bridge before and after the fire, which you can see here: