Impressions of Virginia: Meems Bottom Covered Bridge
"Meems Bottom Covered Bridge"
© Dew Photography VA
Meems Bottom Covered Bridge is 200-foot single span covered bridge built by Frank Hiser Wissler in 1892-1893. As part of our Shenandoah journey in "Impressions of Virginia" the bridge was visited on an October afternoon. Laural and Dawn walked through the span of the bridge which is open to daily vehicle traffic. The pair would stand on the inside planks while a vehicle slowly passed by. Recent comment from a VDOT representative in a Northern Daily News articles shares, "Meems Bottom is the last covered bridge in Virginia which allows daily transportation of vehicles.”
The current bridge is said to be the 3rd over this span of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River. The history of the two other bridges is stated in research as, "It is believed that there were at least two prior bridges near Meem's Bottom that were lost by flood and fire. The first bridge was likely burned in 1862 by Stonewall Jackson's Rebels, and the second, washed away by floodwaters in 1870."
Meems Bottom Covered Bridge (6x8 Oil Study)
© Laural Koons
The Meems Bottom bridge had carried traffic daily for nearly 85 years when it suffered vandalism on October 31st, 1976 by fire. However, VDOT (the owner of the bridge) was able to salvage original timbers and reconstruct the bridge. The decision was made to give extra support to the original structure with steel beams and concrete piers. It was reopened to traffic in 1979.
As of a Northern Daily News article the bridge is currently closed because of a second case of vehicular damage in the last two months. (https://www.nvdaily.com/nvdaily/historic-meems-bottom-covered-bridge-takes-a-beating-every-year/article_5c44cfa9-fd51-5140-8e1e-b571fb79955e.html VDOT is assessing the options of what will be the fate of the bridge, whether they continue spending limited funds to make repairs to a historic landmark, which has been damaged by vehicles 11 times in the last two-year time span or to close it permanently to daily vehicle traffic.
Want Laural and Dawn's impressions of Meems Bottom Covered Bridge and see the resulting artwork in person? Come to the Opening Night of their exhibit "Impressions of Virginia '' on December 10th, 2021 at Dockside Realty in Colonial Beach, VA.