A bridge to history

JUNIOR WHITE, of Minnehaha Springs, holds the brass plaque from the old cement bridge over Knapps Creek at Huntersville. White is the last living member of the construction crew that built the bridge in 1947.

Jaynell Graham

“I never thought I’d outlive that bridge” –  Edwin White, Jr.
Edwin White, Jr., known as “Junior” in this community, was just 20 years old in 1947 when he went to work for Monty Brothers, of St. Albans, a construction company that came to the county to build a bridge across Knapps Creek at Huntersville.

Now, at age 90, White is the only living member of that construction crew – the only one to see the old bridge come down. In recognition of that fact, the construction crew on the new bridge presented the brass plaque from the old bridge to White a couple of weeks ago as a memento of the work he had done there.

The old bridge was poured concrete on steel beams.

White helped to mix and pour the cement for the guardrails, a job that incorporated the use of a single pour mixer and a Georgia Buggy – a two-wheeled cart which was run by man-power – “you’d run and dump it,” he said.

“You had to measure everything in cubic feet,” White said. “A sack of cement was one cubic foot. To that you had to add two cubic feet of sand and three cubic feet of gravel to make a mix.” 

There are a lot of mixes in the sides of the bridge, and those sides were finished to perfection.

It was White’s job to finish the concrete. When the frames came off, the rough places had to be rubbed smooth – by hand.

“I could get the patches to hold; that’s why the guardrail held up so good,” White said, laughing.

The bridge across Cummings Creek near Huntersville was built at the same time.

Prior to 1947 there was no need for a bridge across Knapps Creek nor Cummings Creek because there was no road from Huntersville – down what is now referred to as the “Huntersville straight stretch.”

The road was also built in 1947.

The original road turned to cross “Ginger Lane” in the center of Huntersville proper, tying into Browns Creek Road – present day Rt. 28.

“The steel bridge at the Ginger’s was so bad, the school bus would unload the children before crossing,” White said. “They would walk across the bridge and then reload.”

White knows the history of the old bridge and will be keeping an eye on the construction of the new one.

“I never thought I’d outlive that bridge,” he said.

In conversation about the happenings reported in “100-Years-Ago” in The Pocahontas Times, White laughed and said, “a hundred years wasn’t that long ago!”

When you are 90 years old, that is probably so.

White continued to do cement work – first in Montcalm near Bluefield, then on small private jobs.

In 1952 he went to work at the fish hatchery, retiring in 1986.

But he continued to use his learned cement finishing skills to help his neighbors through the years.

White noted that Monty Brothers construction company also built the cement bridge on the Max White farm in Minnehaha Springs.

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