For a few months now, people have been asking if I have a favorite covered bridge from those I photographed this year. I told people I wanted to see all of them before deciding. I had one in mind but felt like I needed to be fair. My favorite is a little bridge that you can’t even see from the main road. It is called the Blacksmith Shop Bridge. I returned to photograph it a few weeks ago. I’d hoped there would still be a lot of colorful leaves all around it, but it’s a little too far north and the trees were mostly bare.
It’s located in Cornish, NH and was built in 1881 to serve a single family who lived down this road. It was constructed by James Tasker who built several covered bridges in the area. It was restored in 1963 and then again in 1983. Tasker’s grandnephew attended the rededication in 1983.
With so many pretty bridges, why is this my favorite? Those who follow my blog carefully know that I love all things rusty and rustic. In my life, I’ve always favored the underdog. I fell in love with the bridge this summer as I made my way down the weed-lined path and saw the chain and “pass at your own risk” sign. The wood is all weathered and natural. My love for it deepened when I returned in the fall because without the vegetation, I would see that upstream there are a beautiful cascade and the foundation of what must have been either the blacksmith shop or perhaps a mill of some sort.
There are so many wonderful covered bridges in New Hampshire with creative features and interesting stories but this one is my favorite.
This is the last bridge. In this series, I’ve photographed the longest covered bridge in the country (the Cornish-Windsor Bridge) and the longest bridge entirely in our state (the Bath Bridge). To end, I photographed the smallest bridge. It wasn’t planned that way, it’s just the way it happened.
The bridge is only 34 feet, six inches but what she lacks in size she more than makes up in beauty.
There has been a bridge at this location for a long time. We don’t know when the first one was built but the second was built in December 1791. That was during George Washington’s first term in office. It gets it name from being built on land settled by John Prentiss.
The Cheshire Turnpike Company took over the bridge in 1805. The turnpike was the route from Canada to Boston. In 1874, the town voted to raise $1,000 to replace the existing bridge with a covered bridge to be built by Albert S. Granger. The bridge was open to traffic until 1954 when it was bypassed. Now it’s for pedestrian use only. There is a nice little park area next to the bridge with the bench you see here.
Tomorrow, I’ll share with you which of these bridges is my favorite.
The bridge project is done, which means that I’m seeking new material to photograph as the case rate of coronavirus climbs in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. I had Election Day off and explored Sheldrick Forest in Wilton, NH. I was surprised to find they had received a light coating of snow that morning.
I liked the top shot because of the vertical lines of the trees and the diagonal of the hillside in the background. Black and white photography really brings out the lines and shapes. I chose color processing for the image below. I like the different colors of the bark on the trees and the leaves in their fall color. I have some other images to share in future posts and really enjoyed the trails there. I’ll be back.
Wright’s Bridge stands just a mile from the last bridge featured here. Like the other bridge, it is a covered railroad bridge that crosses the Sugar River.
Getting to this bridge takes a bit of walking. I parked at the intersection of the road and the multiuse trail and walked about a kilometer to reach the bridge.
I rode my bike on this multiuse trail several years ago. Motorized vehicles are allowed on the trial and several times, groups of dirt bikes and ATVs passed me. They were always respectful, and the lead rider always signaled the number of vehicles in his or her group so that I knew how many riders to expect.
One thing that I appreciate about this bridge is that the abutments look authentic. Often when the support structures need replacing or reworking, modern concrete is used. When that happens, the abutments look out of place. The people who maintained and restored this bridge went through the effort and expense to use a stone abutment.
Why is this bridge so tall and narrow? Because it was built for a train to pass through not buggies or automobiles. Once there were hundreds of covered railroad bridges in the United States. Now there are only eight according to a sign next to the bridge.
This is the longest remaining covered railroad bridge in the U.S. at 224 feet. It’s named because a stone pier supports the center of the bridge. The support was necessary because locomotives with their coal car could weigh 320,000 pounds.
To arrive at this bridge, I had to get off the beaten path a bit. This bridge is on a dirt road. I bounced down it about a mile and found a small pull out next to the road to park the car. The bridge is off to the side of the road allowing a nice vantage point for a side view without climbing down along the river.
It’s hard to believe that this bridge was used until 1977. It was built in 1907 and replaced an earlier bridge constructed in 1872. Back then there were all kinds of little railroads.
The original builder was the Sugar River Railroad. The line was bought out by the Boston and Maine railroad which ran most of the trains in the area. In 1954, B&M sold the line to the Claremont & Concord Railway who operated it until it closed.
Originally built in 1845, the bridge burned in a suspicious fire May 25, 1993. The town was described as being “devastated’ at the loss. Covered bridges are not the most practical means to cross a river in the modern age and the town and state made plans to replace it with a modern bridge made from concrete and steel.
The residents of Newport petitioned the town and state to replace the bridge with a wooden covered bridge, raising thousands of dollars to cover the difference in cost. A little more than a year later, on Columbus Day weekend, the new bridge was pulled into place by a team of oxen. I spent about an hour trying to locate a photo of the oxen pulling the bridge but was unsuccessful. I did however find this video of oxen pulling a different bridge into place.
This was the first bridge on my last covered bridges of New Hampshire outing. There are only three photos of this bridge because other than the one image inside the bridge, I did not venture to walk around inside. There was some moderate traffic, and it moves quickly through the bridge. Self-preservation kicked in.
Most of the bridges that I photographed were on side roads or out of the way places. There were usually only a few homes nearby, if any. The Mechanic Street Bridge is located in a busy residential neighborhood.
The bridge spans Israel’s River. The river provided water power for local mills. As the mills and the town grew, a bridge built in the 1780s quickly became inadequate.
This bridge was constructed in 1862 to replace the original bridge. An interpretive plaque on the bridge said that this bridge allowed horses and carriages to cross at a faster speed, but the State’s history said that in that same year, the citizens voted to put signs on the bridge prohibiting driving across the bridge at a pace faster than a walk. So did people get to go faster on the new bridge, or not?
Back in the 1860s or 1870s, this area needed a bridge to connect the two towns. An enterprising company called “The Union Bridge Company” built and operated it until 1908 when a log jam destroyed the bridge. A ferry then operated for three years until a new bridge could be built.
The towns on either side of the “new” bridge each contributed $2,500 for the cost. The state’s history says that another $1,678 was “raised by subscription”. I’m not sure if that means people contributed to the bridge and if there was any additional benefit to them beside not having to use a ferry service.
In 1969, a truck loaded with highway salt fell through the floor of the bridge. The rear of the truck rested on the ice and the front was caught on a piece of the bridge. Meanwhile, salt spilled out of the truck, weakening the ice below.
They had to raise the truck to disengage it from the bridge and then lower it carefully onto the now weakened ice. (How it avoided going to the bottom of the river, I’ll never know.) It was dragged off the weak part of the ice, turned upright and then taken off the ice.
In more recent times, it’s had difficulties (plural) when GPS directs truck drivers across it. I included this image from The Caledonian Record website.
Years ago, I took photos of most of the bridges in the southwestern corner of the state. Somehow this bridge had missed my attention before.
On a cold late September morning, I put on a winter jacket and gloves for the drive west. This bridge is only about an hour from our house. When I arrived the cold air was causing steam to come off the river and the leaves on the hill behind the river were just beginning to turn colors.
There was not a lot on the history of the bridge. It was named after the original builder and owner, Anthony Coombs. It’s difficult today to think of someone owning a bridge. The state history of these bridges said the bridge aided in the “social and commercial development of the area”. The historical record was written nearly thirty years ago and describes the bridge as needing major repairs and that there was talk of bypassing it. From the looks of it, I tend to think that it had been repaired at some point in the past twenty-five years.