Covered Bridges of Washington County

<<-Previous       Next->>

THE HUGHES BRIDGE - AMWELL TOWNSHIP

Stream          Ten Mile Creek
Truss Type      Queenpost
Length          55 ft., 6 in.
Width           12 ft., 4 in.
Builder         unknown
Year            1889
Ownership       Township

________________________________________

The history of the Hughes covered bridge is long and well-documented. In 1889, Amwell Township built the Queenpost truss bridge. However, the combination of hewed and sawed timbers in the truss system suggests that this bridge replaced an earlier bridge in the same location. Another possibility is that materials from a bridge that had washed away which originally stood close by were used in the construction of the Hughes Bridge.

In support of these possible theories is the date of the bridge, 1889, immediately following the floods of 1888. In evidence of this, there is a map dated 1878 in Rural Reflections of Amwell Township, Volume 1, that shows a bridge located on the property of Esq'r. Hughes and sons in the vicinity of two saw mills. This confirms the possibility that before the floods of 1888 a bridge stood in this general area.

In 1915, Washington County took over the maintenance of the bridge. The County expressed a desire in 1971 to move the bridge to Mingo Creek Park and began demolishing the bridge. Amwell Township expressed what they considered their rights to ownership of the bridge and filed suit against Washington County of January 26, 1971 to stop the County from moving the bridge.

In court the County maintained that in 1915 when it took over the maintenance of the bridge, it also acquired ownership of the Hughes. On January 30, 1971, a judge ruled in favor of Amwell Township and ordered Washington County to restore the bridge to the conditions it was in previous to the demolition process. The demolition had reduced the bridge down to the bare skeleton of the truss system. The County spent substantial funds in their efforts to comply with the ruling.

Today the Hughes is used only for foot traffic, and stands in its original parklike location, a field off Interstate 79 at the Marianna Exit, south of Washington. It has vertical board siding on both the portals and sides, is painted barn red both inside and out, has four rectangular windows on each side together with narrow eave openings and a tin-covered gable roof. There is no additional steel or wood reinforcement and the bridge rests on a concrete abutment at the north end and a cut stone-and-mortar abutment at the south end. It has short, cut stone-and-mortar wingwalls capped with concrete at both ends. It is a part of the annual Covered Bridge Festival.

<<-Previous       Next->>