The Meriden Bridge is in Plainfield, New Hampshire. Like the bridges in neighboring Cornish, NH, this was also built by James Tasker. He constructed it in 1880 for $465. Another man, Levi Sanderson, received a separate payment of $220 for building the abutments on which the bridge rests.
I found this bridge to be very picturesque and welcoming. A plaque on the bridge says that the area beneath the bridge is a popular swimming hole for local youth.
The Meriden Bridge has its share of difficulties. The bridge was damaged by Hurricane Carol in 1954 and was later rebuilt using steel beams. In the spring of 1977, heavy snows caused the roof to cave in.
Andover, NH is home to two covered bridges. The first bridge is the Keniston Bridge built over the Blackwater River in 1882 by Albert R. Hamilton at a cost of $745.57.
The lattice work on the side is not just ornamental but also provides support for the bridge. A lattice truss structure allows a substantial bridge to be made using planks and lower-skilled labor, rather than heavy timbers and more expensive carpenters. It’s also easier to handle and move planks rather than timbers.
The town rehabilitated the bridge in 1981. To do work on the foundation or abutments, the engineers lifted it from its foundation using two cranes and moved it to a temporary site. The problem was that the site was only a few feet above the water level. The engineers had to work quickly to finish fixing the abutments and return the bridge to its place before heavy rains and rising waters caused the river to rise and damage the bridge.
This bridge is a bit different. First of all, it is on a college campus joining the main campus to some athletic fields. It was never meant for vehicular traffic. Students walk across it and the odd maintenance vehicle will drive over it.
Second, it was first built in 1972, but is listed by the state as a historic bridge. When Milton Graton and his son Arnold built it, they used traditional methods. For example, the framed trusses were pulled across the river by a team of oxen rather than cranes or tractors.
The Henniker Bridge was designed to replicate the traditional style of covered bridges. In 2022, it will be eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
Once I decided to make a complete set of photographs of the historic covered bridges in the State’s book, New Hampshire’s Covered Bridges, I became a bit obsessed with making a proper list and map of the bridges I’d be photographing.
I used the State’s book to make a list and then a map in Google’s My Map (an option in your Google Drive). It lets viewers zoom in and check out the map. It also lets me place markers on the map and color code the markers to indicate various things. In this case:
Black Marker – That is home base, the town where I live.
Yellow Markers – Bridges that I photographed before I actually began the project.
Red Markers – Bridges that I have photographed since starting the project.
Blue Markers – Those are the bridges that I need to photograph.
This helps me to plan trips and avoid missing a bridge. Or at least I hope so. My concern is that I not leave out a bridge while I’m in a specific part of the state and then have to make a special trip to photograph that bridge. So here is the map. I will update it as I go and we can check on the progress.
From the Bump Covered Bridge, I opted to take the scenic state route rather than the highway to get to the Squam River Covered Bridge in Ashland, NH. It was a quiet meandering twenty-minute drive. The bridge sits below Squam Lake and Little Squam Lake. The area is a popular summer tourist destination and was featured in the 1980s film On Golden Pond. From this spot, the lake empties into the Squam River.
According to the state’s book on historical covered bridges, the building of this bridge was a community effort. It’s a fairly modern bridge having been constructed in 1990. The existing steel and concrete bridge needed to be replaced and the state proposed a modern two-lane bridge. The town’s citizens wanted a one lane covered bridge on this spot and voted $35,000 at the town meeting to build one. Unfortunately, this was about a sixth of the cost of the bridge.
A branch of the town’s historical society called the Squam River Covered Bridge Committee worked to raise the rest of the money through typical fundraisers, such as bake sales and dinners. Ultimately, most of the balance was raised through the private donations of more than 500 donors. It was dedicated July 1, 1990.
I left Blair Bridge and traveled less than ten minutes to Bump Bridge. While Blaire bridge was on a busy road, the road to the second bridge was much more rural. As I drove, I wondered how it got its name. Was there a rather large bump in it or near it?
Once at the bridge, I could see how it got its name; it’s on Bumps Intervale Road. As I left my car, I could hear either a pack of coyotes howling away or a kennel of dogs howling for their breakfast. All I knew was that it was loud and rather close. I was hoping it was the kennel and not the coyotes. Eventually it died down. Whether it was coyotes or a kennel, they got what they wanted.
This bridge was much shorter than the first one I visited. It was 68 feet long not including the ramps leading to it on either side. It’s a pretty bridge in a nice location. There’s been a covered bridge on this spot on the Beebe River since 1877. This one was last built in 1972 after the previous bridge rotted out. Unlike many rebuilt bridges, Bump Bridge uses wooden timbers for support rather than stone abutments. I prefer the top picture because with all of the trees high up in the background, it looks like it’s way up in the hills.
Earlier in the week when I was chatting with my friend Anna, the topic of his bridge came up. She thought back to the movie Blair Witch Project and said it sounded spooky. I scoffed at this but perhaps there is something to it. The first covered bridge was built in 1829. It was torched by an arsonist who claimed that god had told him to do it. Then in 2011, a later version of the bridge was heavily damaged by Tropical Storm Irene. The bridge reopened in 2015 and I hoped that I could manage to get through my shoots today without any bad luck myself.
I counted and before beginning my official quest to photograph all 54 of New Hampshire’s historic covered bridges, I had only photographed twelve. And these twelve were the low hanging fruit. I’d taken their pictures when I was on travels for work or other things. Somehow, my boss never seemed to notice when I detoured a bit to shoot a photo of a covered bridge.
With forty-two bridges left, I decided to try to get four in a day. All four are within a half an hour’s drive of one another in the central part of the state between the Lakes Region and the White Mountains. Sunday, I got up and out the door by 4:30 AM to head off to the Blair Bridge in Campton, NH about an hour and a half away. I like the strategy of going to the furthest bridge first and then working backwards so that the drive home seems a bit shorter. Unfortunately, this meant the drive there felt long especially after not driving all that far for three months due to coronavirus.
I arrived there just after 6:00 AM. The bridge sits on a rather calm and shallow section of the Pemigewasset River. The bridge is 292 feet long and 20 feet wide. The odd thing about the bridge is that it’s on a road connecting the highway to a state road. Like most covered bridges, there is only one lane. If a car is coming through the bridge, you have to wait for it to come through before going ahead. It’s a busy road for a covered bridge but it must work for them to continue the tradition of having a covered bridge on this site.