Staats Mill Covered Bridge

The Staats Mill community traces its roots back to the Staats family. Abraham Staats, a Revolutionary War veteran, and his wife, Ann King Staats, were the early family members. Their son, Cornelius, who served in the War of 1812, married Ann Carns. Their child, Issac Staats, established the first water-powered mill on Tug Fork of Big Mill Creek, giving the area its name, Staats Mill. Close to the mill stood a store owned by Enoch Staats, Issac’s son.

In 1887, the Jackson County court, led by George W. Shinn, selected a location for a bridge over the Tug Fork of Big Mill Creek. Using Hardesty’s Mill bridge as a model, Quincy and Grim, local craftsmen, constructed the stonework for $710.40, while Henry T. Hartley built the wooden superstructure for $903.95. Enoch Staats completed the dirt fill approaches for $110, bringing the total cost of the Staats Mill Covered Bridge to $1,788.35.

The bridge utilized the Stephen Long patent from 1830, characterized by “X” braced diagonals in its panels. Staats Mill’s version had 11 panels, each measuring 8.7 feet in length and 14.3 feet in depth. Its flooring comprised timber beams supported at the panel points of the truss carrying longitudinal timber stringers and a timber deck, topped with a metal pitched standing seam roof and supported by sandstone abutments.

For spans up to 100 feet, Queen, King, and multiple Kingpost trusses had been employed, with Burr arches used for longer spans. However, some bridges were built with Long trusses and for longer spans, the Long trusses were combined with an arch to reduce deflections caused by loads and movement of the joints.

In 1971, the bridge underwent a significant rehabilitation. Its wooden deck was replaced with a three-span steel girder structure inside the original truss work. Two steel bents were added in mid-stream to support the three-span steel girders and a laminated two-inch by four-inch timber deck was installed on the steel floor beams, which was overlaid by asphalt pavement. The original trusses became decorative.

Despite these changes, the Staats Mill Covered Bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. In 1983, to accommodate a flood-prevention lake, the bridge was relocated to the FFA-FHA State Camp at Cedar Lakes. The project was overseen by the USDA Soil Conservation Service, approved by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and supervised by the West Virginia Historic Preservation Officer. There, it was repurposed as a pedestrian bridge spanning a pond, at a cost of $104,000.


From downtown Ripley, follow County Route 21 (South Church Street) south for .8 miles. Turn left onto Cedar Lakes Drive and continue southward for 1.5 miles. Turn left into Cedar Lakes. The covered bridge will be on the left.



Cedar Lakes Weather

American Byways is an exploration-focused website that helps you discover hidden gems, find unique waypoints, and trek to spectacular natural wonders.

Leave a Comment