INSIDE THIS ISSUE:
The Board of Directors at the recent annual meeting has approved the position of Public Affairs Officer. This position, which will be filled by Bill McKone, is intended to increase the visibility of VCBS, and will hopefully lead to an increase in membership and funds. This position should be a valuable asset to VCBS, as well as providing much-needed assistance to the present committee structure.
The spring meeting of VCBS will be held in Pittsford, home to many covered bridges, mostly built by or influenced by Nichols Powers, a noted covered bridge builder of the 19th century. Please make every effort to attend.
Bill Carroll, President VCBS
Annual Spring Meeting
May 2, 2015
The Spring Meeting will be held in the Pittsford Congregational Church basement, 121 Village Green, on the east side of U.S. Route 7.
Access will be given to the basement at 9 AM for set-up and socializing. The Business meeting will start by 10 AM to conclude at 11 AM for the presentations.
A Pittsford Historical Society tag team will present Pittsford, the Pittsford area, and the Society's pictures and background on their covered bridges. Bill Powers, Pittsford Historical Society President, has information on the former Potwine Covered Bridge to the north, near Brandon.
There will be snacks and a sales table to help with the Save-a-bridge Fund. The meeting is open to the public. The basement of the Congregational Church, where the Pittsford Historical Society holds their own meetings, can easily accommodate 30 plus, and also has parking.
Dining and covered bridge touring will be discussed at the meeting. We are warned that in this season there's a good chance that we will not be able to visit the Depot Bridge except in boats - the area around it tends to get flooded.
by Joe Nelson
In our last issue, Laura Trieschmann, State Historic Preservation Officer, suggested that we look at Vermont's Historic Roadside Marker program. "I would love to work with you to have signs created for all of the covered bridges; many do have signage but most do not," she said.
Ms. Trieschmann's suggestion fits the Vermont Covered Bridge Society's mission to help preserve the covered bridge heritage by collecting, displaying, and preserving covered bridge artifacts, photographs, artifacts, histories, and lore.
So, Bill Carroll and I have decided, in our spare time, to collect historical information about the Village Bridge in Waitsfield [45-12-14].
If you have a favorite bridge, do the same, solo, or with a team. Of the 101 historical covered bridges in Vermont, only eight have historic signs:
All of you historians, check out http://historicsites.vermont.gov/roadside_markers and help support The Vermont Covered Bridge Society's mission to preserve covered bridges.
The Vermont Covered Bridge Society has set up a lending library available to all society members-in-good standing through media mail.
Librarian Warren Tripp has created a detailed book list complete with a description and critique of each book. Copies of the index are available by mail, or you may contact Joe Nelson for an electronic copy at email@example.com.
A borrower can contact Warren Tripp who will send the book by Postal Service Media Mail. Books are returned the same way.
Send Warren the complete title of the book(s) you wish to borrow. He will respond with the mailing cost and mail the order when the fee is received. The borrower is then responsible to return the item(s) in a reasonable time, preferably not more than two months.
Contact Warren Tripp, P. O. Box 236, Groton, VT 05046, firstname.lastname@example.org, Phone (802) 584-3545.
By William McKone
The position which I have proposed and am willing to accept for a period of two years might have the following duties. Most of them overlap with existing committees (e.g. Publicity, Membership), but would they entail initiatives that apparently are not currently being exploited. Ideally we can establish general policy guidelines that would clearly state the authorized actions by the PAO, those that require prior approval of the board, and any areas of prohibited activity. A small budget for discretionary spending will expedite this contribution to the stated VCBS goals. Authorization to recruit VCBS members or non-member volunteers to help with tasks would be implicit in the position.
Many businesses and some government agencies (national, state, and local) use the image of a covered bridge as an iconic feature for advertising and tourism. We should provide each such entity with some basic information about Vermont's bridges and the VCBS, requesting their support of our efforts. Local historical societies, chambers of commerce, and regional economic develop groups should welcome our input. A special membership rate should be established for such organizations, perhaps differentiated by profit, government, and non-profit status.
The Vermont Country Sampler, a monthly publication distributed throughout Vermont, has agreed to run a feature article on VCBS along with the calendar listing of the spring meeting. Cathy O'Kane, the publisher, is also offering to run an ad for VCBS for free to recruit members. Lastly, she will welcome an article each month featuring a Vermont covered bridge. Our new Public Affairs Officer, William McKone, will prepare an article on the Cambridge Junction bridge for the April issue which will also include the feature article on VCBS and a listing of our May meeting. This is a good (and free!) opportunity for spreading the word about VCBS.
Here is an opportunity for you, our membership, to help promote the Society. Consider taking the time to write a brief article about your favorite bridge. Send articles to William McKone (email@example.com) who will proofread them and submit them to Vermont Country Sampler for consideration. Please send articles in plain text or Word formats.
If you have a photo to go with the article - If you have a photo to go with the article - Great! If not, no problem, we will work to locate one. Please send photos in JPG format. Great! If not, no problem, we will work to locate one. Please send photos in JPG format.
Support Jeffersonville In Bell-Gates Property Clean up
The abandoned Bell-Gates lumber mill property west of the Village of Jeffersonville and along Route 15, an eyesore for years, is about to be cleaned up and redeveloped.
The mill owner sold the property to Jolley Associates, which had plans to erect a convenience store on the property; however, this plan fell through due to floodplain and local permitting issues, and the village acquired the property in September 2014 with the intention of creating a greenspace park.
The Village has since applied for a grant to fund the redevelopment, and has asked the VCBS to support the project, not with funds or labor, but with a letter of support.
On December 7, 2014, The VCBS issued the following letter to the concerned:
This letter is to notify you that the Board of Directors of the Vermont Covered Bridge Society, based in the Village of Jeffersonville, has reviewed the grant application concerning the cleanup of the environmental problems on the former Bell-Gates lumber mill property, and has agreed to support this project.
The property, as a green space park, will become tied into the regional trail network designed to attract hikers and bikers, residents, and tourists alike. Local companies provide riverpaddling services. The network provides access to the town's two historic covered bridges, and all of the previously mentioned activity will discourage vandalism of the bridges.
The Vermont Covered Bridge Society, with membership from coast to coast, is prepared to use its website, www.vermontbridges.com and its quarterly newsletter to inform the public about this very attractive facility.
Sincerely, William Carroll, President, VCBS
A volunteer-run organization like the Vermont Covered Bridge Society needs worker bees to fulfil its mission, i.e. promoting the preservation of covered bridges. Please give serious consideration the needs we have listed here:
Return to top
The eastern boundary of Essex County is the Connecticut River, across which there are two extant covered bridges. In times past there were close to a dozen covered bridges across the river between Essex County Vermont and Coos County New Hampshire, including at least two railroad bridges. Since the eastern boundary of Vermont is the mean water mark on the west side of the river, the covered bridges are mostly in New Hampshire, only the western few feet are actually in Vermont.
In the VCBS Archives we have little information on the lost bridges:
Stewartstown Bridge, 45-05-14x, 1882-1931, 150 foot long Paddleford truss with added arch across the Connecticut River between Canaan and Stewartstown at Beecher Falls. One print from Vermont Life magazine, winter 1953/1954.
Bridge St. Bridge, 45-05-08 #2x, 1901-1950, 280 foot long two-span Howe truss bridge between Guildhall and Lancaster. One undated snapshot.
We have no information on any of the other lost bridges in Essex County.
There is limited information and photographs of the two remaining bridges:
Mt. Orne Bridge, 45-05-03 #2, built in 1911 by Berlin Construction Co. and Babbitt Brothers, a two-span Howe truss, 266 feet in length between Lunenburg, Vermont and South Lancaster, N.H. This is the second bridge at this site, and is also on the National Register of Historic Places. In the archives we have Kodacolor prints from the 1980s to 2007, Polaroid print and notes from 1980, an undated newspaper print, and an article from the Caledonian Record, July 15, 1988, about the reopening of the bridge after being closed to repair the center pier.
We are always looking for photographs, articles, or any information about all of the covered bridges in Vermont. Please send to Bill Carroll or Joe Nelson.
Guilford's Green River Bridge [45-13-04], as reported in the Fall 2014 issue of The Bridger, was to be closed until late October 2014 while repairs were made to the northwest wingwall.
The Selectboard awarded the wing-wall contract to Welch Masonry LLC in partnership with Zaluzny Excavating Corporation. Officials voted to spend up to $153,500 on the project, with a significant portion coming from state grant money. The wing-wall work required closure of the covered bridge to all traffic, vehicle and pedestrian.
Structural problems were discovered in the west abutment during wingwall repairs. Deck problems found last fall by the Vermont Agency of Transportation raised concerns about the structure, causing the Town to limit traffic on the bridge to four tons, making the bridge, as is, unusable by emergency equipment.
During the closure, regular users were upset as they needed to take long detours around the bridge while the Town seeks long term solutions to restore the bridge to its previous rating to carry eight-ton traffic.
The Selectboard issued an apology regarding the date of the bridge closure. The board has been posting information on the town's website, www.guilfordvt.net, and have been e-mailing residents. But the Selectboard also voted to send out a letter that will include a history of the covered-bridge projects and an anticipated timeline of upcoming projects.
Additional repairs are to be designed by Hoyle, Tanner & Associates. Ideally, that project will happen this year, but timing is everything. Selectboard member Anne Rider noted at a recent meeting that the project will have to happen during the summer months. "We do not want that bridge closed while school is open," Rider said. "It's either we get that window - the June, July, and into early August window - or we put the whole thing off (until 2016)."
That's because last fall's bridge closure caused headaches for families on the western side of the span. Residents took it upon themselves to construct a temporary footbridge, but Rider said she doesn't want to impose that kind of "stress and strain" again.
There is also the issue of funding the job, which will include installation of a new roof and deck. On February 2, the Brattleboro Reformer stated the latest cost estimate for the project is $575,000. Guilford already has a $315,000 grant in place for bridge repairs. Officials are hoping for another $175,000 state grant. The board expects to hear back on the grant this spring. Even if that money comes through, the town will need more cash to get the project done. To fill that gap, an article will be voted on at the March 3 Town Meeting to authorize the Selectboard to bond or borrow a sum not to exceed $150,000 to match grants received for the repair and rehabilitation of the bridge.
Shrewsbury's Brown Covered Bridge rehabilitation project will begin this Spring. The project will address stone foundation reconstruction/repairs, and repairs to the wooden superstructure and slate roof. The west approach road repairs and re-opening are not part of this project.
The historic Pulp Mill Bridge in Middlebury will be closed to all pedestrian and vehicle traffic beginning on Monday, January 26th, while a work crew repairs damage caused by a single-vehicle accident on the bridge last fall. Alpine Construction, which carried out the rehabilitation of the bridge in 2012, will perform the repair.
A VTrans inspection identified a damaged brace at the base of an upstream truss member.
At this time, it is anticipated that the bridge will remain closed for approximately three weeks and was expected to re-open on or about Monday, February 16th. The Town will provide updates to the timeline for repairs as new information becomes available.
On February 5th, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin and Transportation Secretary Sue Minter announced the recipients of $2.1 million in federal funds for municipal grant projects under the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). One of those projects listed was $11,261.00 for determining the feasibility of relocating and restoring Montgomery's Hectorville Covered Bridge. The bridge was dismantled and put into storage in October 2002.
Return to top
It's spring again and time for our Early Renewal Drawing. Many thanks to each of you who mailed your membership dues on time. As in years past, Ruth Nelson's first grade reading group at the Jericho Elementary School drew the winners. (The little rascals have fun doing it.)
Here are the prizes for this year's contest: A two year free membership to the VCBS or a signed copy of Spanning Time, Vermont's Covered Bridges by Joe Nelson, or the cost of the book to the VCBS ($30).
The winners are: Philip Jordan of East Arlington, VT, and Andy Behrens of Thetford Center, VT.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or VCBS Membership, PO Box 267, Jericho, VT 05465 to claim your prizes.
Congratulations, and thank you for your membership.
Happy Birthday and Anniversary to:
The 2015 Annual Board of Directors meeting was held beginning February 2, convening in accordance with VCBS Constitution and Bylaws Article 3, Part 2. Also in accordance with Article 3, Part 2, the meeting was conducted by email, fax, telephone and surface mail as appropriate.
There were six proposals in the original agenda. A seventh was submitted by William McKone.
A low-cost option for a VCBS presence would be the donation of a prize for the auction that raises money for the Ted Bridges Hospitality Scholarship. A prize could be a membership in the VCBS, a book, print, or a more substantial prize.
This is the type of initiative that I [William McKone] see falling within the duties of the proposed PAO. I would be willing to take on the task of making the arrangements for the prize donation and could perhaps also be on hand for part of the conference to promote the VCBS, even if not registered as a participant.
The proposal was passed with a vote of 6 yes, 1 abstention, 3 no, 4 not voting.
A motion to adjourn called for: Moved by Ray Hitchcock, seconded by Irene Barna. So voted.
For iPhone users, there is an app to help you explore Vermont. Apprently, there is no version available for Android users. ViewBoost promotes itself as "A Unique Travel Application for an Equally Unique Traveler!" It includes information about many types of sites in the state plus details of area businesses. For a fee, businesses can enhance their profile within the app. The ViewBoost website states, "We want to showcase the beauty of the state through photos that highlight cities, towns, landmarks, tours and trails." They indicate that a percentage of the revenue generated by the app will be invested in travel and tourism initiatives within Vermont.
The app includes photos and descriptions of covered bridges that you can include in your tour. The image of the Bartonsville bridge accompanying this article was taken from their website.
For more information, visit their website - www.viewboost.com or check out the description in the App Store.
California's Bridgeport Bridge is now receiving repairs necessary to keep it in place for future generations. Last June, after a successful campaign by the Save Our Bridge Committee, with the help and support of local and state officials plus many other organizations, Governor Jerry Brown allocated $1.31 million for the restoration of the state landmark.
After the loss of New York's Blenheim Bridge in August 2011, it is now the longest single span covered bridge in the US. This bridge was built in 1862 to replace an earlier one washed out by heavy rain. The siding was constructed to accentuate the bridge's arch. It was closed to traffic in 1972 and is now part of South Yuba River State Park at Bridgeport in Nevada County.
Doug Moon, Chair of the Save Our Bridge Committee informed us that the stabilization work is close to complete as the steel structure that will "cradle" the bridge is almost in place. As soon as the stabilization work is complete, the assessment work will begin and is expected to be completed by the end of June 2015. At that point they will know the extent of the repairs needed to restore the iconic bridge and be able to move forward with designing the repairs, obtaining necessary permits and accomplishing the restoration.
The entire process will take a number of years, probably being completed in 2018 or 2019. The goal is to restore the bridge as close to original conditions as possible and have it safe for visitors to walk across, the association stated.
John Field, Publicity Chair of the South Yuba River Park Association offered many photos of the work in progress. The photo with this article was taken on February 4, 2015. It shows the placement of one of the steel towers which will hold suspension cables to support the structure during repairs.
More than three years after the Bartonsville Bridge was swept away by the storm-swelled Williams River, the future of the salvaged remains is still in limbo. Much of the content of this article is excerpted from an e-mail written by Susan Hammond.
When the Town's insurance company, Vermont League of Cities and Towns Property And Casualty Intermunicipal Fund (PACIF), paid out the one million dollar policy on the loss of the bridge, they became owners of the remains. The insurance company also paid for the salvage operation.
For a while the town was planning on buying back parts of the remains to build a smaller version of the bridge for an information kiosk near the new bridge, but this became complicated due to various issues with the setback from the railroad and abutting properties. As a result, the plan was scrapped and no one else in town has expressed an interest in the remains.
The remains are still available and the insurance company would like to recoup some of their investment. The Town negotiated with them and eventually agreed on $16,000 (10% of the recovery costs) for the parts they thought would be needed for the kiosk.
Sue stated, "the bridge is basically worthless and priceless at the same time." The parts themselves have limited usefulness as structural timbers and moving the large pieces in their current condition would be a costly endeavor. Separating the truss timbers would be time consuming and the individual timbers still have a limited potential uses. The timbers have been exposed to the elements for the past three years and may have experienced some deterioration during that time.
Although essentially worthless to the insurance company, the pieces have great sentimental value to Bartonsville residents and bridge enthusiasts. However, the town has not been able to find a place to use any of the pieces once the kiosk idea fell through.
What remains are basically two long sections of truss (63 feet & 64 feet long) that are 11 feet high with the bottom chords cut off. The top chords are still attached. There are two sections of truss from the portal sections (35 feet & 25 feet long) which also have the bottom chords cut off. There are many bottom chord sections. Some of them are from the 1983 renovation, not original timbers. There are also a few other pieces such as one of the portals.
Last year, before the kiosk idea fell through, the National Society for the Preservation of Covered Bridges (NSPCB) signed an agreement with the National Park Service to accept a $150,000 grant to use for researching the ability of the Town lattice system to carry and distribute loads, because their observed performance greatly exceeds the calculated strength.
NSPCB would use the money to construct a bridge from the parts for live load testing and experimentation. By using strain gages on deck boards, floor beams and truss members, data would be collected for a variety deck thicknesses with different methods of attaching the deck to the floor beams.
The primary goal is to develop a model for the composite floor system behavior of covered bridges that more closely matches observed real world behavior. This could lead to a new methodology to better calculate the strength of these bridge systems. The work would also attempt to develop guidelines for retrofitting shear fasteners (additional spikes or other means) to ensure that desired composite action of floor planks and floor beams is achieved.
Since the Town's funding for the project was withdrawn, the NSPCB project has been on hold. For the project to continue the money to purchase the materials from the insurance company needs to be raised and a future owner needs to be identified.
Spanning Time: Vermont's Covered Bridges by Joseph C. Nelson
Spanning Time: Vermont's Covered Bridges features 102 color photographs of Vermont's covered bridges in fifteen chapters, each a guided tour. The tours are complete with maps, commentary on the uniqueness of each bridge, and historic highlights about the towns and villages in which the bridges stand.
An appendix provides: A Summary of Vermont's Covered Bridges, listing information on each; A Covered Bridge Glossary, describing the details of a covered bridge; A Bridge Truss section, explaining how trusses work with drawings of the trusses used in Vermont; The Bridge Builders, providing thumbnail biographies of people who designed and built the bridges; A Covered Bridge Reading List, for bridge and history buffs; A detailed Index. Spanning Time: Vermont's Covered Bridges: 7" x 10", 288 pages. Published by New England Press at P.O. Box 575, Shelburne, VT 05482. Spanning Time is available directly from the author for $39.00, free shipping. (Vermont residents add 6% sales tax)
Covered Bridges of New England - DVD
When one typically thinks of covered bridges, New York is not the first state to come to mind, but New York once had over 300 covered bridges. Floods, fires and progress have claimed all but 32. Readers will enjoy seeing NY’s current bridges, including the oldest existing covered bridge in the United States, the Hyde Hall Covered Bridge, located in Glimmerglass State Park, and the world’s longest singlespan covered bridge in the world, the Blenheim Covered Bridge, washed away by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. This book also highlights the Theodore Burr Covered Bridge Resource Center in Oxford, NY, the first ever center of its kind specifically designed for covered bridge researchers.
Connecticut and Rhode Island Covered Bridges
To order your signed copy, send $25.00 to:Bill Caswell
535 Second NH Turnpike
Hillsboro, NH 03244.
Vermont Magazine Covered Bridge Notecard Sets
Covered Bridges of Vermont Print