Four miles northwest of Millersburg on US 68, Historical Marker #1566 stands at Bourbon County’s last remaining covered bridge (2013).
One of only 13 in the state, was built in 1877 by Jacob Bower of the Bower Bridge Company of Maysville, Kentucky about 100 years after the first such bridges were built in Kentucky. At one time there were as many as 27 covered bridges spanning Bourbon County streams. These bridges were covered to protect them from the weather. The timbered spans have played a romantic role in history with many in Kentucky having been destroyed during the Civil War. Today those remaining are a nostalgic link to our past.
Colville Bridge is located on the Colville Road and spans Hinkston Creek near the Harrison County line. It is a multiple kingpost truss structure originally built of yellow poplar for its durability. Though of sturdy construction, it has needed maintenance and repair over the years. Two of the repairs were executed by the son of the builder, also Louis Bower, and his grandson Stock Bower. During the latter’s repairs in 1937 the bridge was raised to its current height in hopes of keeping the flooding of Hinkston Creek from damaging the structure.
In 1972 an overloaded truck damaged the bridge requiring that it was closed for about a year while repairs, supervised by Stock Bower, were made by the Bourbon County Road Department. In 1997 record level area flooding raised Hinkston’s crest to 37 feet, several feet above the decking. Either the force of debris or the current of the water, or both, caused the bridge to shift on its abutments and pull away from the road. Restoring the bridge required a major renovation of the structure which took two years. Most of the renovation was conducted off site by Intech Engineering using whatever original materials could be used.
Over the years original materials had been replaced, painting had occurred and vandals had attacked the bridge with graffiti. During the renovation the bridge was returned as much as possible to its original appearance. A wood shingled roof was put in place along with truss camber and the Bower green and white portal details. Arbitrary changes included an increased roof pitch and a lengthened roof overhang.
Kentucky’s Covered Bridges, Images of Bourbon County, pamphlet authored and produced by Robert W.M. Laughlin for the March 16, 2008 meeting of Historic Paris-Bourbon County, Inc.
Through Their Eyes: Covered Bridges of Bourbon County, Kentucky, by Melissa C. Jurgensen, Due Bella Autrici Books, 2013.
Roadside History, A Guide to Kentucky Highway Markers, Compiled by Wells, Diane; Hay, Melba Porter & Thomas H. Appleton, editors. Kentucky Historical Society, Frankfort, Kentucky, 2002.
The Colville road goes through the bridge, and this picture shows the approach to the bridge, and Hinkson Creek below. (photo by Richard Smith)
The inside of Colville Bridge showing the timber construction. This picture does not show the Burr truss clearly. (photo by Richard Smith)
In this drawing, the curve of the distinctive Burr truss is clear.