BARRACKVILLE — With the simple flip of a switch, the historic Barrackville Covered Bridge was brought into the 21st century Sunday evening when thousands of tiny white Christmas lights came on.

After months of work, Barrackville volunteers were able to enjoy the sight of the covered bridge fully outlined in lights. But, as with most technological marvels, it wasn’t a simple undertaking. Up until a few weeks ago, the bridge didn’t have any electrical power, and it had never been wired for electricity.

To tackle the problem, a handful of volunteers first decided that they did, indeed, want electricity for the bridge. They knew after last year’s generator-powered bridge lighting that permanent lights would be appreciated by residents.

Working off the momentum of renewed interest in the bridge’s historical significance, volunteers set about making plans to electrify the bridge.

“We knew we had to start by getting a power pole placed near the bridge,” Barrackville Covered Bridge Preservation Society Secretary Diana Marple said.

Anita Rose, a Barrackville resident who has worked in the electrical industry for years, knew which local companies specialized in the work needed to bring power to the bridge.

“[Barrackville resident] Jackie Fisher contacted Rogers Electrical to put up the pole,” Rose said. “When I talked to the guy from the electrical company, he said next we need a commercial work order, so we got that,” Rose said.

“They came out and put in the panel boxes, and a guy came out and ran the wire, but we still needed the boxes and outlets,” Rose said.

“We went back and forth as to what to do,” Marple said. “Different companies came out and did work — Rogers Electrical, CED Mosebach, and West Virginia Electrical Corporation all came out and helped.”

“Once that was all done, the inspector checked it and put a tag inside that box,” Rose said. “Then he contacted First Energy and told them it’s approved, it’s done right, so then they came out and did the connection.”

“It really all just came together over the past few weeks,” Marple said. “We also had help from the Lion’s Club. It really does take a village.”

Last year, Marple and her husband, Will, worked on the generator-powered lights.

“He loved planning it,” Marple said.

In August, Will Marple passed away, so family members came together to assist with this year’s bridge lighting. There was a short memorial service at the bridge lighting Sunday to remember the friendship and dedication of Will Marple.

The lighting project was a success and plenty of residents were on hand to enjoy the bridge’s illumination. Barrackville resident Bobbi Mohrman came for the event. She provided historical photographs to planners of the 1990s bridge restoration, and has kept up with its history over the years.

“We’re Barrackville residents — we’ve been here all of our lives,” Mohrman said. “And we used to travel through the bridge when it held cars.”

Pat Whitescarver, one of Barrackville’s Christmas in Our Town planners, was also at the lighting.

Although this year’s celebration has been modified due to the pandemic, Whitescarver was nonetheless enthusiastic about plans.

“We’ve been doing it since 2002, and this year it’s going to be held on December 4,” Whitecarver said. “There will be bands from Fairmont State and North Marion High, and Santa Claus will be at the community building giving out 225 bags of candy.”

Also planned for Dec. 4 is a “reverse parade” where residents on the main roads will place floats or other Christmas decorations in their front yards so people driving through the town will see the lights and decorations, and experience something like a parade.

Society members urge Marion County residents to come to Barrackville and take their family Christmas photos in front of the lighted covered bridge.

To reach Lori Riley, email lriley@timeswv.com.

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