White Bridge turns 100

Greene Township secretary, Judith Hamlin (left) unveils the plaque she worked with the William G. Pomeroy Foundation to erect. It commemorates White Bridge being added to the National Register of Historic Places back in 1979. (Photo by Samantha Karam)

White Bridge, which runs across Whiteley Creek in Garards Fort, is celebrating quite the feat during this year’s White Covered Bridge Festival, scheduled for Sept. 21 and 22. This year marks 100 years since the bridge was built.

To celebrate this centennial, the Greene County White Covered Bridge Association unveiled a plaque at the historic site on Sept. 5. The plaque acknowledges how the bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

According to Pat Walko, executive director of the White Covered Bridge Association, White Bridge was listed on the registry on June 22, 1979. Three decades later and now anyone who visits will know of this accomplishment.

“It’s been a while in coming,” Walko said at the plaque unveiling. “What better 100th birthday present for our beautiful bridge?”

The association will do another public unveiling for those in attendance on Saturday.

“Earlier this year Greene Township secretary, Judith Hamlin, received correspondence from the William G. Pomeroy Foundation inviting the township to apply for a grant to purchase this commemorative plaque,” Walko said. “Through Judith’s tireless efforts the township subsequently received $1,100 from the foundation for the sign.”

White Bridge is believed to have been constructed in 1919, However, its history is slightly controversial as a state survey from 1990 reports it being built in 1900, though Charles Morris, an area native, recalled seeing it constructed when he was a boy. Morris was born in 1911.

“With the exception of the 1990 state survey...all other sources suggest that the White Bridge was constructed around 1919,” Walko said.

It can’t be disputed, however, that this covered bridge is impressive. It is the longest queenpost structure in the county and one of the tallest.

Plus, it carries a history rooted in resilience. According to Walko, the White Covered Bridge Festival was cancelled in 2001 due to the attack on Sept. 11.

“(Then) in 2004 Hurricane Ivan blew through on a Friday night and flooded the festival grounds, forcing the cancellation of the festival that year,” Walko said.

The county rebuilt the bridge in 2008 and continued with the annual festivals until 2018, when rain from Hurricane Gordon flooded the area forcing cancellation.

Walko is hopeful for this year’s forecast, but said if it does rain and flood the area, all she hopes is that the flooding happens sooner than the night before the festival.

The Garards Fort bridge is one of 10 white covered bridges in Washington and Greene Counties. As with past years, each of these historic sites will offer handmade crafts, music, horse drawn wagon rides, civil war reenactment, live gospel music and food during the two-day festival, which takes place annually during the third weekend in September.

For more information, visit the White Covered Bridge Festival’s Facebook page @CoveredBridgeFestivalPA.

“To be included on the National Register is particularly meaningful and demonstrates that this location is historically significant and worthy of preservation,” Paula Miller, executive director of the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, said in a press release. “It is our hope that this National Register marker will remain a testament of the historical importance of this wonderful bridge for generations to come.”

The William G. Pomeroy Foundation, according to its website, “is focused on historic research, preservation and historic and cultural heritage tourism.”

Pomeroy, the foundation’s founder, began his efforts as he was fighting leukemia so the foundation also works to advocate for diversity in the bone marrow registry so more patients can find matches.

Last year, the foundation gave $377,230 in grants for historic signage and professional development. For more information, visit www.wgpfoundation.org.

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