Zaunders-The Great Bridge Building Contest
Lemuel Chenoweth--a shy, furniture maker with only a third-grade education--enters a bridge-building contest in Richmond, Virginia, during the 1800s and wins with his design built entirely without nails.
This picture book for older children celebrates a little-known engineering feat. In 1850 Lemuel Chenoweth, a humble cabinetmaker from northwestern Virginia (now West Virginia), traveled to Richmond to compete against better-educated and more-experienced men to design and build a bridge across the Tygart River at Philippi. Chenoweth had no blueprints to display, but he put together a wooden model of his covered bridge, placed its ends on the seats of two chairs, and walked across it to demonstrate its strength. Awarded the contract, he built the bridge, which still stands. Zaunders makes the history of this bridge into an interesting story, including a double-page spread on Civil War history related to the site. The book's pleasing india- and colored-ink illustrations were created by Roxie Munro, a direct descendent of Chenoweth. A brief biography of Chenoweth is appended, as are three pages (charmingly illustrated and captioned) featuring still-surviving covered bridges. Booklist