NSPCB Newsletter - April - May - June - Spring 2001
There is no meeting in the month of May
Sunday, June 24, 2001 at 1:00 PM This meeting will be held at the site of the Contoocook Railroad Bridge in Hopkinton, NH. As you may well know the Society has been financing repairs or having persons repair this Railroad Bridge. One of only a few remaining the United States. This is an outdoor meeting and is usually held in the bridge. There is also a pizza shop a few hundred feet from the Bridge. Jim Garvin the State Architectural Engineer will be present to answer questions. Tim Andrews who is performing much of the work will also be available.
Sunday July 22, 2001 at 1:00 PM This meeting is being held at the site of the Prentiss Bridge in Langdon. NH. This is one of the bridges that we have donated to, to be repaired. Pauline Prideaux who is in contact with the Langdon Covered Bridge Association tells us that the repairs to this bridge have been completed. With the advise of Arnold Graton and the work of volunteers from the town the bridge. Anyone wanting to donate, may do so at this address: LCBA RR1, Langdon, NH 03602, Tel. 603-835-6844. Remember that there is another covered bridge to be repaired in Langdon. This is the McDermott Bridge. See directions on page 6.
Sunday August 26, 2001 at 12:00 PM our annual picnic meeting to be held at the site of the (Westminster Institute and Butterfield Library) The picnic will begin at 12:00 and the meeting shortly after we devour the goodies for the day. The location is on Route 5 in Westminster, Vermont just about 4 buildings south of the Post Office on the East Side of the road. Turn onto Grout Avenue and go 200 yards and take a right to the parking area. Bring your chair and utensils. Cold drinks are supplied. Coke or Pepsi in cans. Anything else you need you would have to bring yourself. The grill is supplied as well as the dogs and burgers and all the condiments. As usual there is guided tour to the portions of the Archives that are kept in Westminster.
Topics, spring, 2001:
Dear Fellow Members, Greetings!
As I seem, over the years, to have picked up the habit of beginning each quarterly diatribe with comments about the weather, I should not like to startle anyone at this late date by commencing the current message in an unorthodox fashion; therefore, let me hasten to state that here in Westminster, since at least the first of the year, we have had, and to some extent are still having, "a real old fashioned winter". I am sorry I did not keep an accurate account of the snowfall, for it has been quite considerable. At one point, though I could still get into the yard, it was not possible for me to turn my car around in it. I had either to back into the driveway, or, if I choose to enter it in a more or less normal manner, that is to say, head first, then I had to back out of it, a fairly dangerous procedure when one is not able to see over the top of the snow banks.
As far as our Covered Bridges go, most of them seem to have survived the additional weight on their roofs quite successfully (Please see elsewhere in the present Newsletter for details concerning one which alas did not.) -after all, this has not been their first Winter with attendant heavy snow falls - but now the crucial question becomes how fast will all the white stuff melt, and will this melting be accompanied by excessively warm weather and/or warm rain? As some of you may perhaps remember, it was several days of warm rain plus deep snow cover which gave rise to the great flood of 1936. Let us hope Mother Nature has nothing like that in store for us this year. Our Covered Bridges are already sufficiently endangered as a result of certain human activities, or the lack thereof neglect, arson, "reformation" and "correction" passed off by the powers-that-be as "restoration", and so forth. They definitely do not need to be assailed by exceptionally high water as well.
The following excerpts from an eye-witness account of the Great Flood
of 1936 may be of interest in the context of current snow conditions. It
was penned by one of my uncles, Justin P. Wright, unfortunately now
deceased, who lived most of his life in Springfield,
It will probably come as no surprise to anyone to learn that concern
over the future of our Covered Spans has long been a preoccupation for
members of the National Society. For example, the very first issue of
Topics that appeared under our aegis (Summer 1952; Leo
Litwin, Editor Pro Tem) contains the following
The above paragraphs also illustrate several points which I have tried to make from time to time. First of all, when Covered Bridges were repaired fifty or so years ago, they were really repaired, not redesigned so as subsequently to be reconstructed as something else. Put another way, repairs affected during the period we are speaking of tended to be repairs-in-kind, absolutely the best type from a preservationist point of view, assuming only that the condition of the structure in question were such as to warrant some sort of intervention. Second, and very much in contradistinction to the situation which prevails today, the problem for Covered-Bridge preservationists fifty years ago was not, in general, the nature and the details of the rehabilitive schemes being proposed for particular covered spans. It was instead one of trying to prevent the wholesale destruction of what then remained of our Covered-Bridge heritage. Of course, various plausible reasons were almost always advanced for scheduled removals, but the majority usually boiled down to some vague notion of a need for "Progress" , whatever that may be, or to an assertion of structural insufficiency and/or decrepitude. Unfortunately, in many instances this 'decrepitude' was real enough. More often than not, however, it had been brought about by neglect, neglect that was, in a certain number of cases anyhow, of a purposeful sort.
(In all fairness to the then-in-power, powers-that-be, by the late 1940's or early 1950's some Covered Bridges were clearly being asked to bear far heavier burdens than any which could reasonably have been anticipated by their builders, heavier burdens which passed over these spans ever more frequently. Take, for example, a structure which when first erected, was located along a lightly traveled country lane. This structure could well have found itself, after the second world war, in an area where rapid development was occurring: new houses, new stores, shopping centers, factories, et cetera. Obviously, given such a new context, and the changes in traffic patterns which that context would inevitably give rise to, removal was probably the only practical option for this postulated Covered Bridge. Of course, once removed, and depending upon how it had been removed, the structure in question could have been recycled. When there are literally hundreds of similar structures still standing all across the country, however, recycling is probably not the first thing one would think of.)
In case readers should imagine that my assertion of `purposeful neglect' is a bit fanciful, or likewise Leo Litwin's similar one of almost 50 years ago, I am going to quote in its entirety a letter written about 1950 by my Grandfather, Warren Edward Potter, of Westminster, Vermont. Most of what is said in his letter is self-explanatory. It might be useful to know, however, that amongst other things, Grandfather was writing about the Gageville Covered Bridge over the Saxton's River in North Westminster (Gageville), Vermont. Grandfather and his group, and by the way, I was present at the Special Town Meeting about which he speaks in his letter, were able to save that span; it was in fact already repaired, or nearly so, by the time of the drafting of what you are about to read. Unfortunately, the Gageville Covered Bridge is not one of the lucky ones which have come down to us intact, or indeed in any form; it was arsoned some fifteen or so years after its initial reprieve.
To the Editor of the Bellow Falls Times, Subject,
Westminster affairs: As
the day for the annual town meeting approaches, should we not take a
little time in meditation, and debate in our own minds the pros and cons
concerning just a few of the important questions which now confront and
challenge us, and which demand intelligent and immediate
To be continued next
*Fictitious appellation: due to a proof-reading error, only the given name (John) of the then Attorney General appeared in my Grandfather's letter as it was printed in the Bellows Falls Times.
Langdon Bridge Directions; The directions to the Prentiss Bridge in Langdon are, it is located 1 mile south of route 12A and Langdon Village. If you are driving south it will be on your left hand side. Hope to see you there.
Contoocook Railroad Bridge Directions: This bridge is located off of Interstate 89. Look for the sign for Contoocook. If you are coming from the East you will take route 127 to the right. The other way will take you to the West Hopkinton Bridge.
Last minute News: Bob and Trish Kane received a message as follows. "Congratulations! We have decided that we would include 9 of your photographs in the ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) Bridge 2002 calendar."
Covered Bridge News
By Bob and Trish Kane
⋅ Fitches Covered Bridge - NY 32-13-02 The restoration work has begun! On Sunday, March 18th, we visited this bridge and to date, they have removed a couple of patches of the roof and floor to allow the placement of steel piles down through the structure to help support an internal steel support frame. Two main beams have been installed in the "belly" of the bridge and rest on columns in the approach embankment at each end of the bridge and on the center pile "bent". The main beams are connected with bracing and cables for stability. They support a pair of transverse steel box beams at about 12-foot spacing. From these top pairs of box beams, two more pairs of transverse longer box beams pass through openings in the lattice members of the trusses. These beams will support longitudinal walkways, which will function as work platforms inside and outside of the trusses and column supports to hold up the timber trusses while work is being done on them. Most of the siding has been removed, but the roof and floor remain in place. The next few weeks will include installing the new walkways and supports and the removal of the roof and floor of the bridge exposing the trusses for work Many thanks to Phil Pierce, Deputy Commissioner for Delaware County's Department of Public Works, for keeping us informed on this bridge.
⋅ Hamden Covered Bridge - NY 32-13-03 Plans for the dedication of the restored Hamden Covered Bridge are well under way. The date is Saturday, July 28, 2001, so be sure to mark your calendars and plan to attend this historic event. More details will follow.
Saratoga County:Copeland Bridge - NY 32-46-01 We visited the Copeland Bridge on Sunday, Februaryl8th and were amazed at the progress made there. You will see by the photos that much has been done to restore this little bridge. A new standing seam roof has been added and the ends of the Queenpost Truss have been repaired. The wonderful new landscaping adds a very serene environment to the bridge.
Other news: DeLorme Atlas Project - The response to this
project has been overwhelming and very heartwarming. What a great group of
covered bridge enthusiasts we have out there! Several folks have taken up
the challenge of working on their states. To date: Bob and MaryAnn Waller,
Missouri, W J Shive, Illinois, Paul V. Lies, Jr., Georgia Department of
Transportation, Mark and Wendy Comstock, Michigan, Bill Cockrell, Oregon
and Dan Brock, Connecticut. A big thanks to all of you for your assistance
in this endeavor.
The merchants of the Village of Oxford, in Chenango County, NY are developing a series of "Riverwalks" or trails connecting certain areas of the village. One of the walks proposes the construction of a Burr truss covered bridge at the "ford" behind the Theodore Burr house. There has also been some discussion about housing a Bridge/Burr Museum. This could be located in the bungalow next to the Library or a room in the Library (the house Burr built between 1810-1813). Bill Troxell, a committee member, would love to hear any suggestions or ideas regarding this project. Feel free to contact him at: PO Box 369, Oxford, NY 13830 or e-mail him at: troxell @ascent.net.
For candle lovers, Yankee Candle Company has a covered bridge candle for the state of Vermont. These may be available in limited quantities, so contact your local Yankee Candle store or call customer service at 1-877-803-6890 to check availability and to special order. Their web site is www.yankeecandle.com, but please note ...this candle is not featured on their web site.
Are you up to a good challenge? If you would "really" like to test your knowledge of covered bridges, be sure to watch the movie "Pressure Point". There are two clips of a covered bridge that is supposedly in Vermont. Can anyone identify this bridge? There is also something strange about the two scenes where the bridge is featured. See if you can figure out what it is?
May 6th through May 12th is National Postcard Week (NPCW) and it is traditional to send postcards to your friends during that week. Many collectors have special cards printed but some simply mail a nice post card Postcard etiquette demands that you return a card to the sender. The Bridge-Covered would like to declare May 14th thru May 19th as National Covered Bridge Postcard Week (NCBPW) and is encouraging covered bridge enthusiasts to send covered bridge postcards to their friends, and members of other covered bridge societies. Order your cards from fellow bridgers who sell them and don't forget, The Bridge-Covered published their first postcard this year. You may order them from Richard Donovan, RR 3 Box C6, Datesman Village, Lewisburg, PA 17837. Why not join in the fun and promote covered bridges at the same time? Mark you calendars and get ready to mail those covered bridge postcards, and then ...watch your mailbox for returns!
(If you would like to include folks who sell covered bridge postcards, I have attached a list of those we know about.)
Folks we know who sell Covered Bridge Postcards
Jean Purdy, 708 Poplar Drive, Falls Church, VA 22046-2840
By Bob and Trish Kane
We had a wonderful trip to West Virginia and Pennsylvania the last week in December and here is a brief update on just a few of their bridges.
Philippi - WV 48-01-01 There is only one word to describe this bridge - magnificent! →
Center Point - WV 48-09-01 We were pleased to see this bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. It is owned by the Doddridge County Historical Society and citizens of the small community donated their time to restore it as a community project. Although it needs a little attention, it is in fairly good shape.
Herns Mill Bridge - WV 48-13-01
Plans are underway for the renovation of this bridge at a cost of approximately $450,000. The steel supports that have been added will be replaced with treated lumber. In addition, repairs will be made to the corners, trusses, and abutments. Insect damage will be also be repaired. →
Hokes Mill - WV 48-13-02 Any covered bridge lover who sees this bridge will surely feel sad. If West Virginia should get a heavy snowfall, this bridge will soon be history. But there is hope! $450,000 has been appropriated for the renovation of this bridge. Let's hope they hurry.
Fletcher - WV 48-17-03 One of two bridges left in Harrison County, this bridge is still open to traffic but is in need of some repair. →
Sarvis Fork - WV 48-18-01 Currently closed to traffic and under repair, it is one of two bridges left in Jackson County.
Dents Run - WV 48-31-03 The only covered bridge left in Monongalia County, it is still open to traffic, but not used as an adjacent concrete bridge sits nearby. It was restored in 1984 and is still in great shape today. →
Laurel Creek - WV 48-32-01 Last year, the DOH (Division of Highways) allocated $260,000 for repairs to West Virginia's smallest covered bridge. This included a new roof and repairing the gables, as well as painting and paving. This is a great little bridge and was decorated with holiday lights.
Indian Creek - WV 48-32-02 The DOH appropriated $340,000 for renovations to this bridge in 0. It suffered from structural damage from termites, foliage and creek erosion. This bridge looks wonderful today.
Denmar/Locust Creek - WV 48-38-01 The only covered bridge remaining in Pocahontas County, it is exceptionally noteworthy because of its rare Warren Double Intersection Truss. An adjacent concrete bridge now carries the traffic on this road. This bridge is in need of a little attention. →
By Bob and Trish Kane
Kings Bridge - PA 38-56-06 Currently being renovated by Arnold Graton. The Rockwood County Historical Society has a sign on the side of the bridge with a plea, 'Help Save the Bridge'. For anyone interested, donations can be made to: Rockwood Historical Society, PO Box 95, Rockwood, PA 15557. For more information, call 603-968-3621. →
There is a lot of
information that needs to be talked about at this point.
Alabama; From David
Topham, USA Today. 3/08/01 The Oxford City Council voted to spend $23,000
to replace the state's oldest covered bridge, now tilting after a century
of wear and an attack by termites. It's roped off so people can't walk on
it. The 60-foot bridge was built in 1900 at Coldwater Creek and moved to
Oxford Lake in 1990. ED Note: This I believe to be (Ol-08-Ol) Calhoun
From Marge Converse
Covered Bridge Society Meets in Town - THE INDEPENDENT -The
Hometown newspaper for Caledonia County, Vermont - Vermont Covered Bridge
Society comes to town. The article depicts a photo citing the following:
Lyndon Area Chamber of Commerce member Jim Fearon receives a resolution
honoring and supporting the Vermont Covered Bridge Society and Lyndon area
volunteers, who will host VCBS association and others this week end.
(Meeting was Sat Sept 16, 2000) Another article from the Caledonia Record
Monday Sept 25, 2000.
Patriot News Harrisburg
PA. Dec. 5, 2000. Received from Greg Williams. Through Tom Walczak - Fire
severely damaged Dauphin County's only surviving covered bridge last
Sunday (12/3/00) and state police are investigating whether it was arson.
Flames were leaping from the Henniger Farm Bridge (38-22-11) in Washington
Twp., a wooden white-painted span that crosses the Wiconisco Creek, when
fire fighters arrived. The bridge, located along Henniger Road about two
miles north of Elizabethville and 35 miles north of Harrisburg, was the
only one of the nine covered bridges to survive the destructive
Floodwaters of Tropical Storm Agnes in 1972.
"Historic Henniger Farm
Bridge will be repaired: information on fire sought by investigators". All
I have on this is The Citizen Standard Dec. 13, 2000. From Tom Walczak who
forwarded it from Jim Clark. The Dauphine County Commissioners will repair
the estimated $150,000$250,000 in fire damage to the Henniger Farm Bridge,
Henniger Road. The fire is believed to be of suspicious origin. "There was
no electric service or utility and natural causes have been eliminated."
The entire burnt end of the bridge will be rebuilt.
Altoona Mirror Nov. 3,
2000. Sent in by Tom Walczak. Seniors recall memories of Hewitt Bridge
(38-05-26) Bedford County PA. This bridge was restored at the cost of
$617,000. The bridge which carries traffic over Town Creek, was
constructed in 1879. [The bridge was dedicated on Oct. 27,2000]
Approximately 40% of the original bridge components were retained. Many
people reminisce about the bridge when life was at a slower pace and the
bridge was used to pause for the horses and buggies during a storm.
From the Standard
Journal - Mary Clewell and her pet called "Sam". Sam is Mary's nickname
for the Sam Wagner Bridge, (38-47-01*49-11) a covered bridge that spans
Chillisquaque Creek just east of Potts Grove, on Creek Road.
Bob Damery wants us to
know that he has done his part for Edward and Evelyn Thomas. "Flowers this
week are given to the glory of God and in loving memory of Edward and
Evelyn Thomas." This is a quote from the flyer of the St. Peter the
Fisherman Episcopal Church in New Smyrna Beach, Florida.
Historic covered bridge
lost in Kent fire. From the Times & Transcript, Moncton, NB. Various
members sent in this information, as well as e-mail messages from Canadian
friends. Bob & Trish Kane, Tom Walczak, Gerald Arbour. The World Guide
calls it the St Nicholas River Bridge and the Newspaper calls it the
Mundleville Bridge (55-05-08) In any case the bridge was lost in a fire
Feb. 26,2001. This is the second longest covered bridge in Canada and the
fifth longest in the world. According to the article it is pegged at 150
meters, which converts to 503 feet long. The Hartland Bridge over the St.
John River is listed as 1282 feet.
I understand that the new Smith Bridge in Plymouth, NH is about complete and they are working on the road work related to the job. There is to be a dedication when all of the work is finished and I believe that I heard it would be in May or June. If anyone is aware of the date please let me know as soon as possible so that we can contact members to this dedication.
Almost all of the covered bridge related -items that were removed from Evelyn Thomas's place in Foxboro have been distributed to respective personnel that will sort, catalogue, identify, and filed in Archival paper. Eventually these items will revert to the archives, which at the present, is located in Westminster, VT.
I have much more information but I am running out of space. This will be continued in the next Newsletter
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This file posted May 5, 2001