Letters To The Editor

Each month, The Kentucky Explorer magazine receives literally scores of letters from our faithful readers. Whenever possible, we try to publish as many of them as possible in the 12 pages we have set aside for "Letters to the Editor."

Here is an actual letter from our September 2001 issue:

A History Of Butler Covered Bridge

Dear Editor:

In looking through some old papers belonging to my mother, I ran into an interesting bit of local history about the quaint little town of Butler in Pendleton County, first called Fourth Lock, as it was the fourth lock and dam on the Licking River.

For want of a more graceful name, Clayton was selected, possibly named for the type of soil in that part of Kentucky. In 1852, when the railroad was completed and a post office was established, it was found that there was already another town in Kentucky with the same name, so Butler was selected.

The railroad was part of the KC Division (Kentucky Central), later a branch of the L & N. The Butler Station Depot was built in 1882. It is said that a Mr. Ham, a contractor who was working on the dam, named the town in honor of W. D. Butler, a member of Congress from that district.

In May 1870 Pendleton County commissioners entered into a contract with Newman and Erwin Architects and Bridge Builders from Middletown, Ohio, to construct a covered bridge at Butler Station over the Licking River.

The contract called for a double-truss burr bridge, 18 feet wide, with a single track. It would have three 152-foot spans for a total length of 456 feet. The bridge rested on stone abutments on each bank of the Licking River and two large stone piers out in the river.

Specifications called for the roof to be covered with No. 1 pine shingles, 18 inches long. The sides were to be boxed with weatherboarding. The chords and braces were of white pine and poplar. The floor was constructed of two-inch oak boards, eight to 12 inches wide.

The bridge was completed by January 1, 1871, at a cost of $18,450. This cantilever-type bridge carried both foot and horse traffic along US 27 and was in a good state of preservation, until severely damaged by high water and winds, during the January 1937 flood. Several months after the top and sides were removed it was used as an open bridge, until a new concrete span was built alongside it.

Finally, the old Butler Station bridge was completely demolished in October 1966. The original piers now stand as a fond reminder of days long ago, and the excitement of going across the old covered bridge.

Ivan K. Baker
5007 Miles Lane
Louisville, KY 40219-5051

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