The Philippi Covered Bridge is the best known of only 17 covered bridges still in existence in West Virginia. The bridge dates back to 1852, when the General Assembly of West Virginia authorized the construction of the Beverly to Fairmont Turnpike. The turnpike required construction of two bridges, one across the Tygart River at Philippi and the other across the West Fork River at Hunsakers Ferry. Constructed of yellow poplar, the bridge was 26 feet wide and 285 feet long, larger than most bridges at this time. A tollgate was placed at the east end to collect fares from users. A horse and rider were charged 10 cents, carriages with horses; 35 cents, head of cattle; 15 cents, a score of sheep; 5 cents.
The bridge can boast a significant place in the country’s history. The Philippi Covered Bridge was the site of the first land battle of The Civil War. On June 3, 1861, Union troops raced through the bridge for a surprise attack on Confederate troops causing the Confederates to retreating. Union troops took command of the bridge and used it as a barracks. The victory strengthened the Union position in western Virginia and discouraged secessionist movements.
The Philippi Covered Bridge has endured floods, fires, and structural modifications. Renovations to the bridge in 1938 replaced the wooden deck of the bridge with concrete. In 1989, the bridge was severely damaged by fire. As a result, an extensive restoration project was begun to restore the bridge to its original condition. The two year restoration project repaired the fire-damaged timbers, and today, with only a few modifications to make it compatible with modern highway requirements, the Philippi Covered Bridge is an authentic representation of the bridge during the American Civil War. Local Carpenters learned restoration techniques and 19th century carpentry methods for the project. Using hand tools, they fashioned the beams. The bridge features the rounded arch entrances, horizontal siding, and a roof of red wooden shingles.
The historical Philippi Covered Bridge was reopened for public use on September 16, 1991, and continues today as the gateway to Philippi – Where We All Come Together!