Durgin Bridge – Sandwich, NH

Before there was a bridge here, there was a ford, a shallow place in the river that allowed people or animals to walk across.   Fording a river can be dangerous and typically means getting at least your boots wet.  Floods can prevent rivers from being crossed and riverbeds are not typically very smooth for driving wagons across.  A bridge was a benefit to the community.

The first bridge was built a quarter mile downstream from the ford at this location in 1820.  Unfortunately, floods from heavy snow melt and rain carried away that bridge and its two successors.  The third bridge was destroyed in 1869 when the floods were so violent as to snap the two-inch-thick bolts holding the bridge to a center pier. 

This bridge was built in 1869 by Jacob Berry of North Conway. According to Berry, he designed the bridge to be so strong that one could fill it with wood and it would not collapse or otherwise fail.  There is no record of this claim ever having been tested though. 

The bridge is named after James Holmes Durgin a local resident who ran a grist mill. The bridge was also a link in the underground slave railroad from Sandwich to North Conway.

25 thoughts on “Durgin Bridge – Sandwich, NH

  1. loisajay

    I cannot imagine what it is like to have a bridge wash away. This bridge’s interior is beautiful. I like the curved wood–it looks thick enough to hold the bridge in place. Are you near Jackson NH? I was so excited last week when another blogger posted a photo of a red bridge with an attached walkway for hikers to walk through. The plaque on top of the bridge said, “Jackson NH.” I thought, “I need to ask Chris about this one.”

    1. milfordstreet Post author

      It would be odd and a bit scary to see a bridge washed out. I’ve not been to Jackson, yet. It’s on my list of places to visit. I think I can finish this project with five more road trips before the trees lose their leaves.

  2. Footprints

    I love the arched structure on the inside. I am noticing the pattern of so many being washed away. The impact of losing their bridge and access to the other side has really hit home with me and how much I take for granted. When we have damage here caused by snow and harsh weather, I want to have a better attitude and appreciate the work that others take to restore it. Beautiful work!

    1. milfordstreet Post author

      Thank you. Yes, serveral years ago, Hurricane Irene damaged roads near where I worked. I wasn’t impacted but cowokers were and often had to travel long distances to find alternate ways to work. Your posts about the value of resources to a community influenced how I wrote this piece. Thank you.

  3. Sandra

    I’m so happy you are doing this series! What a great collection of stories and history. Beautiful pictures! I love the black and white shots! They have a great texture to them. I hope you’re doing well Chris! Take good care.

  4. Sarah

    Love the second shot!! And it’s always so interesting to learn about the history of these covered bridges.
    Did you know that Berlin was founded on a place at a ford? Very swampy area back then. 😀


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