Discover Virginia’s 7 Most Stunning Bridges and Their Unique Histories

By Aila Boyd

May 16, 2023

Visit these seven picturesque bridges in Virginia—each with its own history and charm—and discover the diverse beauty and engineering ingenuity of the commonwealth’s overpasses.

There’s just something cool about an incredible-looking bridge. Whether you’re walking over a river, enjoying a converted rail trail, or out for a leisurely drive, there are plenty of amazing overpasses worth encountering in our commonwealth. 

While some of the bridges we’ve highlighted are still in use today, others are long since retired. No matter which bridge it is, each one has a unique backstory.

Be sure to snap a picture and tag us on Instagram when you visit one of these seven photo-worthy locations! 

Jack’s Creek Covered Bridge

Discover Virginia's 7 Most Stunning Bridges and Their Unique Histories
Courtesy of Patrick County Chamber of Commerce

Location: Patrick County

Do you love the book or film “The Bridges of Madison County?” Well, there’s a covered bridge right in the mountains of Virginia! Jack’s Creek Covered Bridge in rural Patrick County will make you feel like you’re in the film. The 48-foot bridge was built over the Smith River in 1914.

“This historic landmark has been bypassed by a modern bridge, but has been preserved by the county for future generations,” according to the Patrick County Chamber of Commerce.

Until September 2015, there were two covered bridges in the area. Sadly, flood waters washed away Patrick County’s historic Bob White Covered Bridge, originally constructed in 1921. 

Buchanan Swinging Bridge

Discover Virginia's 7 Most Stunning Bridges and Their Unique Histories
Courtesy of town of Buchanan

Location: Buchanan 

It’s not every day you get to walk across a swinging bridge. Visit the Buchanan Swinging Bridge to step back in history—portions of the bridge date back to 1851 when those who wanted to cross the James River had to pay a five-cent toll.

During the Civil War, Confederate Gen. John McCausland burned the bridge to prevent Union troops from crossing the river. A flood later destroyed a subsequent iteration of the bridge.

The current overpass dates back to 1938, when a steel bridge replaced a wood-covered one. 

“The bridge is a favorite landmark of residents and visitors alike, providing a scenic view of the James River and surrounding mountains,” according to the Town of Buchanan’s website.

High Bridge

Discover Virginia's 7 Most Stunning Bridges and Their Unique Histories
Courtesy of Visit Farmville

Location: Farmville

When you visit High Bridge, be sure to wear your walking shoes because the 2,400-foot-long bridge is the longest recreational bridge in Virginia—and one of the longest in the United States.

Dating back to the establishment of a railroad connecting Lynchburg and Petersburg, the High Bridge was built in 1853. It was later damaged in the final days of the Civil War when Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s army attempted to burn the bridge after crossing it. 

“The Union forces saved the bridge and continued their pursuit of Lee’s army towards Appomattox Courthouse,” according to Visit Farmville.

The bridge is now part of the 31-mile High Bridge Trail State Park. Unlike most state parks, the trail runs right through a bustling community. In Downtown Farmville, you can stop by The Virginia Tasting Cellar for a glass of wine while walking the trail. If you’d prefer to experience the trail by bike, you can rent one at The Outdoor Adventure Store

Once you’re on the 125-foot-high bridge, you’ll be privy to majestic views of the surrounding area and Appomattox River below.

Goose Creek Stone Bridge

Location: Loudoun County

It’s rare to come across stone bridges nowadays. Luckily, the Goose Creek Stone Bridge is still standing. In fact, it’s the longest remaining stone turnpike bridge in the commonwealth, according to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. 

“The exact construction date of the massive, four-span, 212-foot-long structure has not been determined, but it may have been built as early as 1801-03,” according to the department. 

History buffs will be interested to hear that the bridge was the scene of a Civil War engagement between forces commanded by Confederate Gen. J.E.B. Stuart and Union Gen. Alfred Pleasonton. 

If you can’t visit the bridge in person, the county offers a virtual tour of it on its website

Ballston Quarter Pedestrian Bridge

Discover Virginia's 7 Most Stunning Bridges and Their Unique Histories
Courtesy of Arlington County

Location: Arlington

Some bridges are simply utilitarian, while others, like the Ballston Quarter Pedestrian Bridge, are works of art. 

“The bridge blends function and artistic expression and creates an iconic civic presence in the heart of Ballston,” according to the county

The bridge showcases articulating steel tubes that support a beautiful zinc roof. The interior space features glass curtain walls. Inside the bridge, there are polished concrete floors and a faceted wood-looking ceiling. 

“The design features a direct geometric approach, where the eccentric structure of the walkway oscillates between the wall and roof,” according to studioTECHNE|architects, the firm that designed the bridge. “The lines that comprise the structure and the transparent glass planes of the walkway engage the occupant, allowing an exploration of the transcendence of line and plane to provide a minimal sense of enclosure.” 

When it was installed in 2019, it replaced the Festival Bridge. Argentine-born Richmond artist Julio Teich designed the former bridge, constructed in 1996.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel

Discover Virginia's 7 Most Stunning Bridges and Their Unique Histories
Courtesy of Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel

Location: Cape Charles

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel is perhaps one of the commonwealth’s most iconic bridges. The engineering marvel is a four-lane and 17.6-mile toll crossing that connects the Eastern Shore to south Hampton Roads. 

When the bridge-tunnel opened in 1964, the former ferry connecting the two areas discontinued service. 

“A scenic overlook provides an opportunity to stretch your legs and enjoy the natural beauty, sights, and sounds of the Chesapeake Bay, as well as provides a great vantage point for camera buffs,” according to the Virginia Tourism Corporation

To commemorate passage across the bridge-tunnel, guests can stop by the gift shop at the Eastern Shore of Virginia Welcome Center.

Natural Bridge State Park

Location: Rockbridge County

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Natural Bridge! The famous formation captivated onlookers long before its induction as a Virginia State Park, but it hasn’t had that designation for as long as you might think.

While once owned by Thomas Jefferson, America’s third president, and carved into by George Washington, America’s first president, Natural Bridge actually predates the Founding Fathers by a long-shot. According to history from the Monacans, a Native American tribe in the area, during a battle with no obvious route of escape, they prayed to the “Great Spirit” for help. The land feature later known as Natural Bridge appeared, and the Monacans were able to cross safely. From that point on, the tribe referred to the wonder as the “Great Path.”

The feature was under private ownership for approximately 250 years, but consistently shared with the public. In 2014, nonprofit group the Virginia Conservation Legacy Fund purchased the land for around $9 million before tax, effectively starting the process of turning the area into Virginia’s 37th state park. Facing financial difficulties after the purchase and renovations started, the project didn’t become a state park until 2016.

Nowadays, Natural Bridge attracts folks for more than just the limestone wonder. There are also seven miles of hiking trails, a recreation of a Monacan Indian Village, and Lace Falls, a 30-foot cascading waterfall.

  • Aila Boyd

    Aila Boyd is a Virginia-based educator and journalist. She received her MFA in writing from Lindenwood University.

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