August 26, 1887: Bridge Builder Lemuel Chenoweth Dies at 76

lemuel chenoweth

Bridge builder Lemuel Chenoweth died at his home in Beverly in Randolph County on August 26, 1887, at age 76. He was a renowned builder of churches, houses, sideboards, beds, buggies, wagons, and even dominoes; however, he’s best remembered for his covered bridges.

In the 1840s, the state of Virginia was taking bids for bridges to be constructed on the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike; U.S. 250 and State Route 47 generally follow this route today. Legend has it that when Chenoweth arrived in Richmond with a model of his covered bridge, the plain design attracted little attention. But then, he supposedly placed the model between two chairs, stood on it, and challenged the other bidders to put their models to the same test. Although some dispute the story, Chenoweth received the contract to build all the main river crossings for the center section of the new turnpike.

His many bridges included the earliest covered bridge at Beverly and the Barrackville covered bridge on the Fairmont-Wheeling Turnpike. His most famous span is the Philippi covered bridge, which was completed in 1852 and restored after a 1989 fire.