Swift River Bridge – Conway, NH

While not open for vehicular traffic since 1974, it is a great place for a picnic.

The Swift River Bridge, built in 1870, replaced an earlier bridge that had a most interesting demise.   The first bridge was built by John Douglass in 1850.  In 1869, heavy rain caused the river to rise lifting the bridge off of its foundation.  The current turned the bridge and sent it downstream.

Unfortunately, the Saco River Bridge is only a short distance downstream from this bridge.  The Swift River Bridge careened downstream crashing into the Saco River Bridge, knocking it off its abutment.  Both bridges broke up in the current and came to rest two miles downstream.

People in New Hampshire are a frugal bunch.  They salvaged the broken-up pieces of wood and used them in re building this bridge.  The new bridge was built by Jacob Berry and his son Jacob.  Standing on the riverbank directly below this bridge, one can see the Swift River Bridge to one side and the Saco River Bridge on the other. 

37 thoughts on “Swift River Bridge – Conway, NH

    1. milfordstreet Post author

      Thank you, Nancy. I think people see having a covered bridge in their community as a source of pride and try to maintain it. This one even has Christmas lights on it. I may need to return in December.

    1. milfordstreet Post author

      The picnic tables are great idea. Thank you. I’m sure it would have been a lot of cost and labor to get new wood for the bridges. Salvaging when they could was a good idea, though I’m sure it was also a lot of work to gatehr it and haul it upstream.

  1. Sandra

    It’s fascinating, the concept of a covered bridge sounds straight forward. But the execution and design is unique each time it sounds. I wonder if that was intentional or if it just worked out that way. I love these picture stories Chris. Thank you!

    1. milfordstreet Post author

      Thank you, Sandra. I think this was a time when things were not built as uniformly and building codes didn’t exist. There were certainly different styles of bridges, but it was not quite as engineered as it is today.


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