INSIDE THIS ISSUE:
Salisbury Station Bridge Burned
Shortly before 3 PM on Saturday, September 10, fire crews were called to the Salisbury Station Bridge over Otter Brook on the Salisbury-Cornwall town line. When they arrived, the bridge was fully engulfed in flames. The fire heavily damaged the bridge. Vermont State Police consider this to be a suspicious fire and are investigating. Flames spread from the bridge, north to some swamp land, burning about 15 acres.
The photos below were posted on WCAX-TV's Facebook page.
For more information and pictures see the article "In Memory of the Salisbury Station Bridge" located in the Covered Bridge News section of the VCBS website. - Ed
Annual Fall Meeting
October 8, 2016, 10:00AM
75 Main Street
The business meeting will be conducted in accordance with Robert's Rules. Snack will be provided. The sales table will be open but the usual drawing will not be held.
Because there is a new bridge connecting downtown Middlebury with Route 7, there is a new way to reach the parking area that serves the library. The road to the parking area comes off the south side of the west end (down town end) of the bridge and goes under the bridge to the parking spaces. Since the upper level spaces have a two-hour limit, it would be best to use the lower level spaces.
Coming from the north on Route 7, go through down town, get on the roundabout at 6 o'clock, leave it at about 9 o'clock but do not enter the bridge, instead take the road to the right which is the lower lot for the library.
Coming from the south on Route 7, proceed across the bridge and immediately at the end of the bridge and on the right is the entrance to the upper level parking lot behind the library.
The Annual Spring Meeting will be held in Jeffersonville at the Visions of Vermont Fine Arts Gallery on April 15, 2017 as voted by the attendees of the 2016 Spring Meeting.
More information will be provided in the Winter Bridger.
The VCBS meeting schedule was discussed at the recent Spring Meeting. The society has been sponsoring two annual meetings each year, one in the spring, the other in the fall. Both gatherings include a business meeting - activity reports by the committee chairs and by the treasurer.
The meeting attendees voted 7 to 4 to hold the business meeting in the spring with the second meeting be membership driven, i.e. social only.* The four wanted no change from the format in use. It was understood that the board of directors has the final say and the subject will be discussed and voted on at the next annual board of directors meeting which will be held this coming February.
* Social only: As pleases the membership: A covered bridge safari, multiple speakers, show and tell, covered bridge post card shows, covered bridge photo shows, picnic, covered dish dinner.
Sitting in our booth at the Vermont History Expo this past June, many people asked if we had a list of all the covered bridges in the state. Unfortunately we do not. Years ago there was a brochure which listed all the bridges and a few details on each bridge, produced by the State I believe, but that is long out of print and out of date. We should generate such a list to enable both Vermonters and tourists in finding our bridges, and perhaps gaining a little perspective into "real" Vermont. I will suggest at the next Board of Directors meeting that an ad hoc committee be formed to address this.
Bill Carroll, President VCBS
535 2nd NH Tpke
Hillsboro, NH 03244
or email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Repairs on the Seguin Bridge in Charlotte are underway. The estimated cost to rehabilitate the 1850 structure is $881,650. The work includes replacement of the upper chords which have been extensively damaged by carpenter ants.
The bridge is known for its crossing curved overhead lateral bracing. Work will also include new siding and roof.
While replacing siding on the bridge, a significant section of rot was discovered in the southeast upper chord of the Green River Covered Bridge (45-13-04). This was only revealed as a result of the change in scope requiring full replacement of the bridge's siding, rather than the 25% that was originally planned.
To replace this section of the chord, additional shoring will be constructed. This will extend the project's original completion date from the end of August to September 30th. When local schools reopen on August 30th, the busses will be allowed to pass over the bridge. It will remain closed to all other traffic. The work is being done by Wright Construction.
(Information from the Town Website, August 4, 2016 and Joe Poston, Senior Project Manager/CFO, Wright Construction Company, Inc.)[Here is a link to The Commons Online with an article entitled Damage to Green River Bridge extends detour. - Ed]
A number of VCBS members attended the celebration to open the restored Brown covered bridge (45-11-09) and creation of the Jim Jeffords State Forest on July 5th in Shrewsbury, Vermont. The bridge and area around it were damaged by tropical storm Irene in 2011. It was recently designated as a National Historic Landmark.
Devin Colman, Vermont State Architectural Historian, commented on the importance of preserving Vermont's historic sites and the key role Senator Jeffords had in obtaining funding for covered bridge projects. Rick Kendall of the National Park Service explained the significance of being a National Historic Landmark. He noted that only about 2500 places have achieved National Historic Landmark status. During her remarks, Pat Moulton, Vermont Secretary of Commerce and Community Development, commended the work done by the Vermont Covered Bridge Society and the National Society for the Preservation of Covered Bridges towards preserving the nation's historic covered bridges.[Follow this link to the VCBS website and our story covering the National Historic Landmark status for the Brown Bridge: Brown Bridge Shrewsbury, VT: Vermont's Newest National Historic Landmark. - Ed]
During repairs to the Scott Covered Bridge, it was discovered that additional work will be necessary. The restoration was originally targeted to be complete by the end of the summer.
Many thanks to Irene Barna for sending an article about the remains of the Bartonsville Bridge, washed away by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, and addressing the improper disposal of those remains. And to Joe Nelson for sending printouts of early microfilmed articles relating to Vermont's covered bridges, in particular an article from the Burlington Free Press pointing out that there were approximately 600 covered bridges in 1927, and less than 200 in 1940. Most of this loss, of course, is attributed to the 1927 flooding of the state. (Today there are only about 100 "authentic" covered bridges remaining.)
No doubt you've seen some beautiful covered bridges in your travels this summer. Whether close to home or several hours away, these amazing structures are always a delight.
Thank you for being a part of VCBS, for helping us to be sure these pieces of history remain with us for many years to come.
As always, we are trying to grow our membership. Please help us spread the word about VCBS and why it's important to you and to our communities. Share your stories and photos on social media. Perhaps you might even post one to the VCBS Facebook page. Let friends and family know we exist. Anything you can do to help us get the word out would be greatly appreciated.
It's never too late to renew your membership. If by chance you've forgotten, simply make your check payable to VCBS and mail it to P.O. Box 267, Jericho, VT 05465-0267. If you are not yet a member, please consider joining us by visiting www.vermontbridges.com. All are welcome!
If you'd like to help with membership activities, or if you have any questions for me, I can be reached at email@example.com.
Happy Birthday and Anniversary to:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
And, if you have covered bridge books you would like to share, the library will be pleased to accept them.
Contact Warren Tripp, P. O. Box 185, South Barre, VT 05670, email@example.com.
Your Society needs a few more helping hands to let us carry out our mission:
Lamoille County covered bridges. We have prints and articles on all the extant covered bridges in Lamoille County, as well as some prints of romantic shelters, and two prints of unidentified covered bridges in Cambridge and Jeffersonville. Information available about the lost bridges is as follows:
This railroad covered bridge was built in 1899 and carried the tracks of the StJ&LC RR across the Lamoille River at Cambridge Junction. The bridge was removed in 1967.
In VCBS Archives: Cambridge Junction Railroad Bridge. Color photocopies of two postcards showing the bridge, ca. 1950.
This 100 foot long lattice truss bridge over the North Branch of Green River in Hyde Park was built around 1907. In the 1940s the bridge was strengthened to allow passage of large construction vehicles involved with building a dam and impoundment north of the bridge. Even with strengthening the bridge was inadequate for construction vehicles, and in 1965 it was bypassed by a new road and culvert over North Branch, and was abandoned. The bridge was ultimately purchased from the town by Thurston Twigg-Smith in 1972, who cut the bridge in half and used the two short bridges as entrances to developments he was building in Windsor County.
In VCBS Archives: Illustrated newspaper article "Old Hyde Park covered bridge ...", Burlington Free Press, October 3, 1974.
"Garfield, Vermont", print of Garfield Bridge, photo by E.H. Royce, caption by Richard Sanders Allen. No date.
This was a 70 foot long Queenost truss bridge across Waterman Brook in Johnson. Date of construction is not known. The bridge collapsed in mid-January 1982, said to be caused by an overweight truck.
In VCBS Archives: Three color polaroid prints and notes, taken in November 1975.
Undated monochrome print.
Moscow Bridge was a 110 foot long Burr truss bridge across the Waterbury River, built in 1850, at Moscow village in the southern part of Stowe. The bridge was lost in 1950, reason unknown, but probably replaced by a modern bridge.
In VCBS Archives: archival quality photocopy of a color postcard, late 1940s.
This Burr truss bridge crossed West Branch west of Stowe center at a location known as West Branch. The bridge was lost in 1927, probably as a result of the extensive flooding in that year. No other information is available.
In VCBS Archives: undated monochrome print
This 80 foot long bridge with a Queenpost truss plus an arch crossed the Seymour River in the Pleasant Valley section of Cambridge. The dates of construction and loss are unknown.
In VCBS Archives: Newspaper print of the bridge with caption "long since removed" Burlington Free Press, July 11, 1966.
Norman K. Tjossem
Ripton Historical Society
May 31, 2016
At the west end of the village of Ripton, Vermont, at the head of Ripton Gorge, State Route 125 crosses the Middlebury River over Bridge No. 14, a modern concrete and steel structure built by the State of Vermont in 1978, and designated the Robert Frost Memorial Bridge. Several bridges have spanned the river at this location since the Town of Ripton was chartered in 1781. One of those bridges was a covered bridge that stood between 1878 and 1922.
Only three photographs of the covered bridge are currently known to exist, and the most complete and detailed is the one taken by Richard Sanders Allen on one of his many excursions around the state from the 1920s to the 1940s to document covered bridges and other historic structures.1 From the photograph it is possible to discern that the bridge was probably constructed in the popular Town lattice style. It appears to be between 50 and 60 feet long, 13 to 15 feet wide, with a peaked, shingled roof. A large open section in the bridge siding boards reveals a series of heavy beams arranged in a crisscross patterned lattice, typical of Town lattice truss construction. The photograph also reveals numerous advertising signs and posters tacked or pasted around the west portal. The only name that seems to have been attached to the structure was simply "the covered bridge."2
Maintenance of roads, bridges, and fence lines seems to have been the principle item of business on every town meeting agenda, and the town selectmen spent much of their time overseeing this local infrastructure, so crucial to the town's livelihood and well being. Joseph Battell, the well known, and somewhat eccentric philanthropist and benefactor of Vermont's wilderness areas, began acquiring land in 1866 to established a private resort in Ripton on what is today the Bread Loaf Campus of Middlebury College.3 He certainly was keenly interested in the maintenance of the roads and bridges that provided safe, scenic, and reliable access to his Ripton holdings upriver from the village. Battell first appeared in the Ripton Town Proceedings in 1868 as a signer of a petition, the content of which is not recorded. In the 1870s he served as town selectman, moderator of town meeting, auditor, fence viewer, and, in 1886, as Representative of the Town of Ripton in the State General Assembly. It also appears that he loaned money to the Town of Ripton in 1877.4
Battell presided over the town meeting on March 5, 1878, which "voted [that] the selectmen give the items and amount of the Bridge near the Gristmill as soon as they can."5 The town also "voted to accept the report of Auditor as it relates to the building of the Bridge near the [Huntley] Grist Mill."6 Jason Billings, a prominent Ripton resident, whose life overlapped that of Battell and the covered bridge, noted in his memoirs that "For many years the bridge at the lower end of Ripton Village was a covered bridge and Mr. Battell was the author of it. The town was about to build a new bridge of the usual stringers, plank and low railing type. He urged them to make it a covered bridge. When they objected because of the cost he told the selectmen to determine as near as possible what the bridge they planned to build would cost and build a covered bridge and he would pay the extra cost. So they did. But I believe the voters were so well pleased with the new bridge that they never asked Mr. Battell to make good on his promise."7
Two years later, at the annual town meeting on March 1, 1881, an unusually long and detailed list of expenses for work on "the Bridge" was presented for payment. The citizens of the town approved it.8 This could be a reference to ongoing construction or repair of the covered bridge over the Middlebury River, which conceivably began in the summer of 1878. There is no further specific mention of the covered bridge in town records until the 1920s.9
On March 1,1921, the town "warning" to the legal voters of Ripton in preparation for the annual town meeting included an item "8th. To see what action they will take in regard to repairing or re-building the bridge now known as 'the covered bridge.'"10 Another "warning," on May 4, 1921, for a special town meeting on May 21, 1921, included an item "third: To see what action they will take in regard to building or repairing the bridge near Huntley[']s mill."11 On May 4, the legal voters of the town "voted to build a cement or concrete bridge where the covered bridge is, near Huntley's Mill. Also voted a tax of seventy cents on the dollar of the grand list of said town of Ripton to apply on the cost of said bridge....the balance of the cost of said bridge to be provided for by tax to be voted at the annual town meeting in March 1922, and the taxes provided for as above shall not be used for any other purpose."12 The voters approved the tax on March 7, 1922, "to pay the balance of the cost of the cement bridge."13 The bridge appears to have been completed in 1922.
A pamphlet produced by the Vermont Department for Historic Preservation in 1992 suggests that the bridge replacing the Ripton covered bridge was built "c. 1925" and lists the engineer responsible for its constriction as Earle E. Morry.14 A photograph of the concrete bridge, looking eastward into the village center, is featured in the publication. The editors of the Vermont State Registry of Historical Places stress in the forward to the pamphlet that "there may be discrepancies between the demonstrable or asserted building dates and those dates give here." The historical record of the proceedings of the Town of Ripton would indicate that the bridge was actually constructed in 1922, though the work could well have extended over a longer period.
With the creation of the Northern Section of the Green Mountain National Forest in 1935, The Town of Ripton lay in the heart of a re-forested and protected public preserve of 205,000 acres. Vermont Route 125 between East Middlebury and Hancock, the road that once passed through Ripton's covered bridge, was declared Robert Frost Memorial Drive in 1971 and designated one of Vermont's two "Scenic Highways" in 1979.
Burlington Free Press & Times
Wednesday May 1, 1940
(Special to the Free Press)
MONTPELIER, April 30 - Time and the elements are rapidly making an in road in the number of covered bridges in Vermont, believed to be the last stronghold of these wooden spans known throughout the United States.
Though much has been said about preserving these beaten structures as mute testimony of real old Vermont, the fact remains that during the past 13 years the number has decreased from approximately 600 to less than 200.
Despite this decline, the State Highway Department does not consider the immediate plight of these bridges to be as serious as some people believe.
According to the highway division, nearly all of the spans are situated on the back roads, and in that, harmonious setting, a large portion should survive many more years.
Yet this same department has observed that "even these must disappear, eventually, unless local communities undertake to preserve them".
The last census taken as of last July 1 by the State Department showed that only 180 wooden bridges exist on Vermont's public highways.
With the exception of the Windsor-Cornish, N.H. toll bridge over the Connecticut River, the above total does not include privately-owned spans. Similarly, covered bridges which have been replaced by new structures, but which were not torn down, were not included.
The abandoned covered bridges are at Moretown, just off Route 100-B; Newfane, off Route 30; and Waterbury, off Route 100.
The decrease in the total of these bridges since 1925 has been marked. Previous to the 1927 flood the total reached nearly 600. Approximately 50 per cent succumbed in the November flood of that year.
In 1933, 240 wooden structures were counted on the public roads: in 1935 only 230: and in 1937. only 215. Since 1937 to the time of the last census - a two year period - the total has been diminished by 35.
This decrease might be considered as particularly acute when looked at from the viewpoint that the 1933 legislature passed a law requiring the State Highway Department to shoulder two-thirds of the maintenance cost of these bridges.
At this time, a sentimental battle is being waxed at Woodstock over the fate of the only covered bridge in the village.
Last summer the State highway department completed a new cement span alongside the covered one, which is one of Woodstock's old aristocrat landmarks.
This wooden structure, which has spanned the Ottauquechee river for 70 years, was built under the direction of the late Nathan Cushing. Its construction cost $3,500.
The only twin-bridge believed to be still existing in this State is situated in the Town of Rutland across East Creek on the route to East Pittsford and Chittenden.
These spans are unique in their construction in that they are not connected, are only 15-feet apart, and go over the same narrow stream. Built in 1849 and 1850 by Nicholas M. Powers, they are respectively 50 and 60 feet long.
The covered bridge at Cambridge across the Lamoille River on Route 15, and one off the state highway in Middlebury town are believed to be the only two double-lane structures in the State. These two bridges are divided into two lanes by a latticed partition.
Not all Vermont covered bridges are on highways, however. There are in this state six covered railroad bridges.
Four railroad bridges span the Lamoille River on the St. Johnsbury and Lake Champlain Railway. adjacent to Route 15 in the towns of Hardwick, Wolcott and Cambridge, while another is in Swanton village over the Missisquoi River. The sixth is between Montpelier and Barre, over the Winooski river, on the line of the Montpelier and Wells River Railroad.
Wooden bridges have had an interesting history in Vermont. One of the earliest was built about 1790 at Bellows Falls.
The first bridge to span the Connecticut River between this state and New Hampshire was built in 1785. It was later mortgaged to Colonel Enoch Hale and later became the property of F. W. Geyer through foreclosure. This bridge was replaced in 1799.
A covered bridge one mile east of Windsor, built in 1866, was one of the longest bridges in, or partly in, Vermont. It was the last one to retain the toll gate.
At one time there were 30-odd toll covered bridges over the Connecticut river, connecting Vermont with New Hampshire. The first free bridge across this river was between Norwich and Hanover. N. H. It still stands.
The famous Dorr 200-foot bridge in Rutland, was built in 1872 and survived until the 1927 flood.
Windham County with 24 leads the State in the number of covered bridges on public highways. Lamoille County is second with 22 and Washington County third with 20.
The number in the other counties follow: Rutland 18, Orleans 12, Windsor 19. Orange 17, Addison six, Bennington six, Caledonia nine, Chittenden eight, Essex four, Franklin 15 and Grand Isle none.
The town of Montgomery in Franklin County leads all towns with eight bridges of this type. Weathersfield in Windsor County ranks second with seven. Lyndon in Caledonia county, Rockingham In Windham, and Thetford and Tunbridge in Orange are tied for third place among the towns with six each.[These articles from The Burlington Free Press were contributed by Rae Laitres. Many thanks, Rae.]
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)
New York State's Covered Bridges
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 U.S., 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.
To obtain a copy of the tour, contact:Bob and Trish Kane
167 Williams Rd.
Sherburne, NY 13460
Connecticut and Rhode Island Covered Bridges
During their heyday in the mid to late 1800's, more than 150 covered bridges dotted the landscape of Connecticut and Rhode Island. Since that time floods, fires, and progress have claimed all but two of the historic structures. With over 200 images, this book provides insight into the covered bridge history of an area that has not been well documented in the past.
To order your signed copy, send $20.00 to:Bill Caswell
535 Second NH Turnpike
Hillsboro, NH 03244.
Covered Bridges of New England - DVD
Produced by Ocean State Video of Rhode Island for Public Television. On Sale: $20.00. Profits will go to the Vermont covered Bridge Society's Save-A-Bridge Program. For your copy send $20.00 plus $2.50 shipping to Joe Nelson, P.O. Box 267, Jericho, VT 05465-0267.
There will be four beautiful Eric Tobin Covered Bridge signed prints for sale in three image sizes; 10x12, 16x20 and 20x30, the profits will be shared with the VCBS. The price range will be from about $100 to $500 depending on size and framing.
Watch for them in The Bridger newsletter, and www.vermontbridges.com under Covered Bridge Market Place.
We regret to report the passing of life member Joseph C. Bills, Sr. of Wilton New Hampshire, on July 6, as a result of injuries sustained in a car accident. He was 70. Joseph served as an Airborne Ranger in Vietnam and was the owner of Bills and Sons Transportation, a FedEx-contracted trucking company. Joe enjoyed touring lighthouses and covered bridges. Linda Bills, his wife of 40 years, died in 2008. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Vermont Covered Bridge Society. Condolences may be sent to Joseph C. Bills, Jr. at PO Box 468, Hancock, NH 03449.