(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a follow up story to a story published on May 19,where the ownership of this property was incorrectly identified.)
Douglas Daugherty said he “really struggled for years to try to save” the Valley Pike Covered Bridge.
In the end, he said time and weather took a toll on the aging structure and it became too much of a liability to keep and it was demolished.
Daugherty said on Tuesday that he is the owner of the property where the bridge was located on Valley Pike and that it provided the only access to his 120-acre farm. Owners of the property were incorrectly identified in a story published in The Ledger Independent on May 19.
The Valley Pike Bridge was constructed in 1864 in the single king-post manner.The span was 30-35 feet in length and was the only privately-owned covered bridge in the commonwealth.
The bridge crossed the Frasure Branch of Lee Creek. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.
Daugherty, speaking from his home in Ohio, said the bridge had been struck by vehicles several times over the years, in addition to being damaged most recently in flooding last summer. Also, as the only entry point to the farm, it was an issue accommodating equipment which has gotten “larger , wider and heavier” over the years, he said.
“It was structurally unsafe and the flood weakened it even further,” Daugherty said, with flood waters reaching about 4 feet on the bridge. The bridge was in such a fragile condition that movement could be felt when the wind blew, he said.
Daugherty said he reached out to someone officials at one point looking for help to save the bridge but did not receive any response. He also made an effort to buy property adjacent to the bridge so he could build a crossing over the creek and save the covered bridge but that didn’t work out.
Finally, Daugherty said the decision was made to raze the structure.
“We just had to take it out as a liability,” he said.
Before making any move to tear the historic bridge down, Daugherty said he examined it and was willing to say “with almost complete surety that the components were not original.” None of the beams were hand-hewn, he said, and some of the work showed signs of being made with a circular saw.
But in an attempt to make sure at least some of the bridge is preserved for history, Daugherty said he saved a lot of the material from the bridge and is hopeful it can be used in a proposed project to build a bridge with components from other lost covered bridges.
Tearing the bridge down was not an easy decision to make, Daugherty said, but was a necessary one.
“It was very regretful but…,” he said.
Lori Ulrich, who is a member of the Covered Wooden Bridge Authority, said it was certainly sad to see the bridge gone.
“We are certainly very sad about it,” she said. “It is such a loss.”
The bridge was one of only 13, now 12, in Kentucky. The Dover Covered Bridge was also damaged in the summer 2017 flooding event but has been stabilized and plans for restoring it are pending.