New Hampshire and Maine Fall Trip 2022 - Covered Bridges

October 10, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

When I do my fall trips, I spend months planning my routes and what there is to see and do along the way. My daughter, on the other hand, prefers to be more carefree and and not have to follow an itinerary. I feel like this trip had a good balance of things I wanted to do, but also allowed her to plan some spontaneous things like places to eat, a change to places we stayed, and to make other stops along the way.

What I didn't mention in the previous blog post, was that a couple of factors delayed our trip by one day. We originally were going to fly out of Orlando on a Thursday, but Hurricane Ian had other plans. We called United and were able to swap our flight to Friday out of Miami. My daughter was almost stuck in Orlando due to work, but drove down in the hurricane bands late Wednesday night. Obviously it all worked out, but we lost a day sight seeing in Vermont because of it. So it was really fun to cross the NH/VT state line and run into an unplanned covered bridge in Vermont! What a find!

We ended up visiting 5 covered bridges on this trip. Below is a little history of each bridge and some of my favorite images and a link to the galleries. I'm pulling the history from the NH Department of Transportation website, which is full of fascinating information for the approx. 60 covered bridges that exist in the state (not sure of exact number, as there are different counts online). NH Department of Transporation - Covered Bridges

Here's the link to the Covered Bridges Photo Gallery: Covered Bridges Gallery

ALBANY COVERED BRIDGE

Spanning the Swift River, this bridge is 120' long by 15'-3" wide and can be found in the town of Albany. The first bridge on this site was constructed in 1857 and destroyed by a windstorm in 1858. At that time, Amzi Russell and Leandre Morton entered into an agreement with the town to build a new bridge for $1,300, minus the amount previously paid for the original bridge. The bridge has wide shallow arches and sharply raked facades. The U.S. Forest Service replace the wooden floor timbers with steel in 1981-1982. 

SACO COVERED BRIDGE

Spanning the Saco River, this bridge is 224'-9" long by 30'-4" wide and can be found in the town of Conway. In 1850, Jacob Berry and Peter Paddleford built a covered bridge to replace a crudely framed log bridge that had collapsed at this site. The 1850 bridge stood until the Swift River covered bridge crashed into it in 1869. The Saco River covered bridge was rebuilt by Allen and Warren of Conway but it was destroyed again by a tannery fire in 1890. The current bridge was built by Charles Broughton and his son Frank (who also built the Jackson Covered Bridge). Additional reconstruction was done in 1987-1990 by the NH Department of Transportation. 

SWIFT RIVER COVERED BRIDGE

Spanning the Swift River, this bridge is 129'-4" long by 21' wide and can be found in the town of Conway. The first bridge on this site was built by John Douglass in 1850. It gave much needed access to the north using West Side Road and served local commerce well until the spring of 1869. At that time, heavy rains swelled the river and the raging waters lifted the bridge from its foundation, turned it around, and sent it rapidly downstream into the Saco River Covered Bridge knocking it off its moorings. Both damaged structures broke up and came to rest two miles downstream. In a striking demonstration of Yankee thrift, much of the lumber salvaged from these two bridges was used in the building of the new Swift River Covered Bridge constructed by Jacob Berry and his son Jacob Jr. The current bridge was bypassed when a new concrete and steel bridge was built nearby in 1974.

HONEYMOON COVERED BRIDGE

Spanning the Ellis River, the Jackson bridge or Honeymoon bridge is 121'-1" long by 16' wide and can be found in the town of Jackson. This covered bridge was built by Charles Austin Broughton and his son Frank. Charles Broughton lived on the Broughton dairy farm on the east side of the Saco River. During the Civil War he was a sergeant in the 18th Regiment of the New Hampshire Volunteers, Company E. He was a finish carpenter, an avid fiddler, and a skillful bear hunter. For ten years he was an agent for the Swift River Lumber Company in Albany, New Hampshire. According to town records, the sidewalk was added in 1930. Originally, the trusses were more exposed than they are today. In 1965 the approach from N.H. Route 16 was rebuilt to improve visibility and to provide parking. 
   

MT ORNE COVERED BRIDGE

Spanning the Connecticut River between the towns of Lancaster, NH and Lunenburg, VT, the Mt. Orne bridge is 127'-4" long by 14'-5"' wide. The first bridge at this site was constructed in the 1860s or 70s to connect the towns Lancaster and Lunenburg. The owner, Union Bridge Company, operated it as a toll bridge until it was destroyed by a log jam in 1908. Ferry service connected the two communities until a new bridge was built in 1911. Each town contributed $2,500. The remaining $1,678 was raised by subscription. The timber for the bridge was precut and assembled at the site. In 1969, a truck loaded with highway salt dropped through the deck and landed on the ice below. The front of the truck hooked on a steel rod in the bridge while rear rested on the ice. The truck was raised, disengaged from the bridge, and lowered to the ice. It was quickly dragged away from the salt weakened area, turned upright and loaded onto a flatbed on the Vermont side of the river. The bridge was closed on July 5, 1983 for twelve weeks to allow rehabilitation by the state of New Hampshire at a cost of $133,000. Funding came from the towns of Lancaster and Lunenburg, the states of New Hampshire and Vermont, and a federal Historic Preservation Fund matching grant from the National Park Service of the U.S. Department of the Interior through the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources. The rededication of the bridge took place on November 23, 1983.


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