History of covered bridges in New Hampshire

Winchester Travel Blog

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MY 34TH STATE

Covered bridges represent a link with our past. They stand as monuments to builders who had the vision and the ability to design and construct engineering masterpieces of wood. Men such as Ithiel Town, Stephen Long, James Tasker, and more recently, Milton Graton have left a lasting impression on the landscape.

The romanticist might see that covered bridges represent a more relaxed time, free from the stress of modern age. These structures evoke images of a slow horse and buggy ride to church on a quiet Sunday, a stolen kiss under the cover of the bridge, or the peacefulness of fishing from a seat on the edge of the bridge, line in the water yet indifferent as to whether or not a fish bites. The historian might see in these spans the development of truss types still in use today, the original attempts to understand the strength of materials, and the analysis of stress on complex structures.

Everyone can agree that these bridges were essential to progress by replacing dangerous ferry crossings, reducing the isolation of rural areas, increasing travel speed, and aiding commerce.

Because of their obvious antiquity and their visual appeal, covered bridges have long been appreciated. New Hampshire's wooden bridges were highlighted in W. Edward White's 1942 booklet, Covered Bridges in New Hampshire, and in any subsequent articles and books. Because of such advocacy, covered bridges became the first type of historic structures specifically protected by state law in New Hampshire. The Laws of the State of New Hampshire, 1963, Chapter 96 pertain to the preservation of these bridges. The law recognizes that wooden covered bridges are of historical interest and are desirable to retain.

Ashuelot covered bridge 1864
These bridges are eligible for state aid for their rehabilitation, and a public hearing is required when such bridges are proposed to be demolished.

In reading the stories of the fifty-four covered bridges in this book, remember that these are what remain of almost four hundred covered bridges that once stood in New Hampshire. Many of these structures were destroyed by flood or fires. A greater number were doomed by neglect. The appendix offers a partial listing of the covered bridges that have disappeared.

Remember too, each covered bridge is captured at a moment in time. These stuctures will change. Some will disappear, succumbing to the ravages of time and the carelessness of man. The outward appearance of some bridges will change in the future as they are rebuilt. Many bridges will appear to grow stronger as everything around them ages while others will appear ancient in their modern surroundings. Each bridge however, contains a character and an individuality all its own.

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MY 34TH STATE
MY 34TH STATE
Ashuelot covered bridge 1864
Ashuelot covered bridge 1864
one of the many covered bridges i …
one of the many covered bridges i…
thompson bridge 1832
thompson bridge 1832
cresson bridge 1859
cresson bridge 1859
Winchester
photo by: furiousfowl