History of covered bridges in New Hampshire
Winchester Travel Blog› entry 4 of 24 › view all entries
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.
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.
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.