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About the Jay Covered Bridge [NY-16-01]
- A history collected from the archives of the
New York State Covered Bridge Society*

New York State Covered Bridge Society Courier - October 1997

What Happened At Jay
by Dick Wilson

Jay Bridge. Photo by Dick Wilson, June 12, 1997
December 20, 2001
Two sections of the Jay Bridge stand in the park across the River fron Jay, N.Y.
Photo by Dick Wilson, June 12, 1997

We have kept up on the Jay Covered Bridge in these pages. I am not going to go over all that has happened those years, but what I have seen since May. Any views I talk about are mine only and not the Covered Bridge Society's. Jeanette is also writing a story on our visit to Jay when it was removed.
       On May 14th the Department of Transportation closed the Jay Covered Bridge. We were told the Board of Supervisors were going to vote on the fate of the bridge on May 27, 1997. Jeanette covers this meeting in her story. We were there and I didn't like what I saw. The fate of such an important historical part of the Adirondacks should not be left to a Board of Supervisors who know nothing about such things.
       Think about the Adirondacks for a minute. We have the Adirondack Park and Forever Wild. We have laws and regulations about what you can and cannot do, yet we can't save the only covered bridge on a highway in this vast wild area.
On that day, the only decision should have been to put a temporary bridge next to the covered bridge and then have the Gratons repair the covered bridge.
       On June 12, 1997, we saw the last two sections of the bridge lifted off the river. I watched while the saw cut through the old truss members in four places. All these timbers are now destroyed and new ones have to be used. After the last two sec- tions were set down, they were inspected. I heard some of the workers comment on the good condition the bridge was in. The trouble spots were at the ends where they sat on the abutments. The very heavy floor which was put in a few years ago was a very good thing to get rid of. There it sat, in four sections, on two sides of the river. A VERY SAD SIGHT!
       What happens now is anybody's guess. I would like to thank Phyllis Wells of Platts burgh, New York, for keeping me up-todate with all the happenings at Jay with pictures and clippings. Phyllis sent me some clippings in August that told about the two sections on the Village side that have been moved to the park to join the other two sections. We would have been there to see the move if we had known.
       We now must go ahead, get the new highway bridge built, then do whatever we can to see the Jay Covered Bridge is repaired and put back across the river where it belongs.

Jay Covered Bridge Removed
by Jeanette Wilson
Jay Bridge. Photo by Dick Wilson, June 12, 1997
One-half of the Jay Bridge has been moved to the park.
Photo by Dick Wilson, June 12, 1997

Dick had been hearing from people in Jay, New York, for a long time about their covered bridge being in trouble. The powers that be wanted to take down the covered bridge so that a new bridge could be erected. Bridge and Beyond, a local group made to save the covered bridge, hoped to save the bridge.
       While we were on Safari in May, our daughter Ruth was at our house. When we got home she had many phone calls because the bridge had been closed. Dick called Fred Balzac when we got home and he said there would be a meeting of the County Legislatures on May 27, 1997. We were up and on the road by 6:00 that morning headed for Elizabethtown, New York. We made it for the 10:00 meeting. It was decided then to remove the covered bridge on June 10, 11 and 12.
       As we left the meeting, I looked over and saw Stanley and Arnold Graton exiting the courthouse by a different door than we had used. Dick and I quietly talked to them and Stanley told us he had the contract for removing the covered bridge. At that point, Dick and I felt better about the removal because we knew if a Graton was doing it, it would be done correctly. We didn't tell anyone else that day that we had seen the Gratons there.
Jay Bridge. Photo by Dick Wilson, June 12, 1997
The third of four sections of the Jay Bridge is moved.
Photo by Dick Wilson, June 12, 1997
       The week of June 8th was going to be a very busy one for us. Dick had a slide show to do at the Crandall Library in Glens Falls on the 11th. Dave and Marikka Guay very graciously invited us to have supper at their house. They also had Dave's mom and Dave and Carol Frantz. The lasagna was delicious. Dave and Marikka have three lovely daughters. (Does this sound familiar?) We always enjoy seeing the collection of other people. Dave has made himself a great covered bridge room. After supper we all went to the slide show at the library. After, we went back to the Guay's for dessert. As an added treat, Marikka's Dad was there from out west for a visit. It was very late when we got back to our camp.
       The next day Dick and I left early for Jay, New York. We got there in time to see the crane hook into the roof of the 3rd section of the covered bridge to be taken off the river. On this day the two sections on the Town side were to be removed. They were having trouble with the computer in the crane so they were not able to lift the sections to the far side of the river. They were each lifted onto a yard near the bridge site.
       We sat on the far side of the river on some nice big boards. There was another man there who lives in the area. There were also two fishermen in the river under where the two sections of bridge had already been removed. They dispelled the old myth about not making any noise when around fishermen. They took quite a few fish out as the crane was making a lot of noise.
Jay Bridge. Photo by Jeanette Wilson, June 12, 1997
Section three swings over the top of section four of the Jay Covered Bridge.
Photo by Jeanette Wilson, June 12, 1997
       The 1st section we saw lifted was the one that was attached on to the approaches. They had a little trouble lifting this piece away from the road. They started to lift and back down it went. They had to do some sawing and then were able to lift it. Stanley was on the roof and hooked up the chains to the steel beams that had been put into the top of the bridge at each end of each section of bridge. The chains were hooked onto the crane. Stanley had no shirt on and later when we went over to the side where the sections had been put, his wife and children were there watching. His daughter, who was asleep in her stroller, had her shirt off just like Daddy. The 1st section was finally lifted off and set down near the river.
       We went around to the other side of the river to watch the last section be removed. We had to get back to our camp as Dick had another slide show to do that evening near Albany, New York. We were hoping the last section would be removed while we were still there.
       We got to the other side as Stanley was hooking up the chains to the last section. As they started to lift this section, Dick finished a roll of film and had to put a new roll in the camera. I was able to get pictures developed the next day. This section was lifted off the river and had to be lifted over the 3rd section that was already on the lawn. This was quite a thing to see a bridge lifted over a bridge! We left shortly after this section was moved and headed south.
       The two sections of the covered bridge were moved over the river to join the 1st and 2nd sections in August when the Bailey bridge was installed over the river. There the four sections will sit until it is decided when (or if) the bridge will ever be put back over the river where it belongs.
       This was a very sad picture-taking day for us. The Jay Bridge was a beautiful bridge in a beautiful site. It was the only covered bridge in the Adirondack Mountains. Will it ever be put back? We can all hope so.

[*This material has been posted with the permission and support of Dick Wilson, President, NYSCBS - Ed.]

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Joe Nelson, P.O Box 267, Jericho, VT 05465-0267
This file posted April 18, 2004