Along the Way: Cuppett Covered Bridge and Gravity Hill

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Cuppett Covered Bridge. Insert: What to look for on the road when searching for Gravity Hill.

Note: This is a part of the Bedford County Covered Bridge tour I went on. Each bridge in the tour has directions from the previous bridge. In all, eight covered bridges will be featured in this tour. The tour order is: Osterburg, Snooks, Knisley and Ryot, Cuppett and Gravity Hill, Colvin, and Herline and Turner Covered Bridges.

Leaving Ryot Covered Bridge, the easiest way to get to the Cuppett Covered Bridge is to continue on Bowser Road for half a mile, then turn left on Route 96. Continue about two miles and the bridge is on the left as entering New Paris.

Despite this being the easiest way, the GPS did not agree with those directions, so I continued along Dunnings Creek Road and after taking a scenic detour of the countryside east of New Paris, I found myself on Cuppett Road. At the junction of Manges Road, the GPS wanted me to turn onto it, but the road really looked like someone’s driveway, so I continued on Cuppett’s Road to Route 96, turned right and a short distance later parked near the bridge – on Manges Road. Note: There is no parking along Route 96 to gain entrance to this bridge – there is safe parking at the bridge along Manges Road.

Parking in front of the bridge, I stepped out of the vehicle to study it. Not seeing any “No Trespassing” or other “Posted” signs, I walked over to the bridge which spans seventy feet over Dunnings Creek. Erected in 1882, this privately owned bridge is named after William and Philip Cuppett who once owned the land on which the bridge was erected. The bridge is also referred to as the Cupperts and New Paris Covered Bridge.

Although it features a single span and has a Burr Truss, this bridge is different from majority which still exist within the boundaries of Bedford County. The most obvious thing which stands out is the bridge is not painted white. The structure is mostly open, with vertical boards only at its base. The boards are not the same length and are slightly longer in the middle to cover the shallow, single arch of the bridge.

Leaving the bridge, I made a detour to visit the mysterious Gravity Hill located near New Paris. Passing through the community of New Paris, I drove roughly two-thirds of a mile before turning right onto Bethel Hollow Road. Following it for two miles, I came to the intersection with Gravity Hill Drive and made the right onto it.

There are two Gravity Hills on this road. The first one is the more popular of the two and is located a short distance from the intersection with Bethel Hollow Road. The words “GH END” are painted on the road marking the location of the first gravity hill. Driving another quarter of a mile, I saw the words “GH START” painted on the road. Making sure nobody was behind me, I put the vehicle in neutral and soon the vehicle began to move backwards, seemingly uphill, toward the spot “GH END.”

I was definitely curious. Driving back to “GH START,” I did it a second, then a third trip. After the third time enjoying gravity hill, I drove back to the starting point and parked the vehicle. Something had already popped into my mind about driving to the starting point – I had to apply pressure to the gas pedal, and my mind instinctively told me I was driving uphill. Stepping out of the vehicle, I examined my surroundings. Almost instantly, I realized I was looking at an optical illusion. Due to the landscape, the road appears have constant incline, instead of having a decline. Standing outside the vehicle, I was able to clearly see the road has a distinct downward slop from the starting to the ending point, something that was a little harder to see when I was sitting in the vehicle.

Driving a short distance farther along Gravity Hill Drive, I came to the second of the two gravity hills. Parking at “GH2 Start,” I again checked to make sure nobody was behind me and put the vehicle in neutral. Once again the vehicle seemed to roll uphill. Again, the same optical illusion as the first hill is in play at this location. From the starting point to the ending point, the road has a downhill slope, but due to the landscape, it appears to go uphill. Unlike the first one, the angle of the road, mixed with the slope of the road and the bank next to it, it was slightly harder to see the downward slope.

While it was fun exploring the two gravity hills, I found nothing paranormal about them and wrote them off as mere optical illusions that make visitors momentarily believe the laws of physics have been reversed on the back roads of Bedford County. After exploring the gravity hills, a loud rumble of thunder filled the air and I headed for a place to wait out the coming storm.

5 thoughts on “Along the Way: Cuppett Covered Bridge and Gravity Hill

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