October - November - December - Fall 2005
|David W. Wright, President
P.O. Box 171
Westminster, VT 05158
44 Cleveland Ave.
Worcester, MA 01603
|Carmela Sciandra, Newsletter Ed.|
P.O. Box 398026
Cambridge, MA 02139
|Send dues to:
4856 Spencer Oaks Blvd
Pace, FL 32571
73 Ash Street
Manchester, NH 03104-4906
|KC Klingensmith, Newsletter Ed.|
P.O. Box 425193
Cambridge, MA 02142
David Topham, Treasurer, Nov thru April only: 11707 Oakmont Ct.,
Fort Myers, FL 33908-2825 239-433-1551;
Sunday, October 16 NSPCB Meeting at the French King Restaurant in Millers Falls, MA.
The next newsletter is scheduled for January 2006. Therefore, anyone wishing to submit any photos, articles, etc. should submit them to Carmela or KC by December 20, 2005. Any newspaper or magazine articles must include source information and details (such as name of publication, date, etc.). Electronic submissions are preferred. THANK YOU!
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Dear Fellow Members, Greetings:
I don't know how it has been where each of you lives, but this summer, here in Westminster, it has been hot, hot, HOT!!! It is still hot! (September 16th) it might even be still hot next week, or next month, for that matter, though do suppose that someday the weather will change. When it does of course, that will be an excuse for a different lament, given the current price of fuel oil.
The above having been said, I do hope that all of you have had pleasant summers. Mine has been a fairly busy one, not all of it spent in my vegetable garden. For example, as I write this message, we are but a week or so away from the time Timothy Andrews of Barns and Bridges of New England will begin the final phase of what our Society has committed itself to at the Contoocook Covered Railroad Bridge in Hopkinton, New Hampshire.
Then too, the New England College Covered Bridge in Henniker, New Hampshire, has been somewhat of a preoccupation.
As many long time members of the Society will probably remember, this span was erected with the full support of at least four Covered Bridge Societies; namely, the National Society, the New York State Covered Bridge Society, and the two then existing New Hampshire and Connecticut River Valley Covered Bridge Societies. Milton and Arnold Graton were the master bridgewrights who designed and built the structure, though due to several important previous commitments, much of the actual framing of the New England College Covered Bridge was left to Arnold, Milton being obliged to be elsewhere. Milton Graton, in his book, The Last of the Covered Bridge Builders, relates the following charming incident which touches upon his frequent but necessary absences: "...in the fall of 1971 I was working alone in Henniker one Saturday. The Professor of Engineering stopped by with his twelve year old son to whom I was introduced as the man who was building the Covered Bridge. The son was quick in responding. He said, 'I have been here lots of times, but I never saw him here,'" proof again, as if such proof were necessary, that out of the mouths of youngsters oft come half truths!!
Be the latter as it may, of recent years the New England College Covered Bridge has got itself into a somewhat dilapidated condition. First of all, it has been vandalized: part of the upper lateral bracing system was tom out a few years ago, and pieces of this system were used as battering rams on that occasion in order to punch holes in the roof. Second, and this ought to come as no surprise, after more than 30 years exposure to the elements, the original cedar shingled roof has itself become questionable. It leaks badly even where not vandalized, and much light can be seen up through it. Now no Covered Bridge enthusiast needs to be told about the consequences of water dripping down through a roof and onto a Covered Bridge truss, especially if such leaks should continue for an extended period. The problem with organizing immediate repairs to the structure has been that New England College, which owns the bridge, has gone through a spell where its financial resources have been stretched fairly thin, and consequently, it has not been able to tend to the span and still meet other of its more pressing obligations in a satisfactory manner. The College has nevertheless created a dedicated fund for the repair of the Covered Bridge, and your Society has contributed to it several times.
Next Sunday, September 25th, the Society will be holding its September meeting on the bridge, the meeting in question to start precisely at 1 o'clock in the afternoon. Several officials from the College are planning to be present for the occasion, perhaps even the newly elected President of the institution himself. In any case, members wishing to make a personal contribution to this fund should send their monies to the New England College Covered Bridge Restoration Fund, New England College, 24 Bridge Street, Henniker, New Hampshire 03242.
On the subject of Covered Bridge restoration in general, which matter has frequently been the focus of these reflections, occasionally a document comes along that reminds one of how well the question was understood sixty, seventy, or even eighty years ago. Consider the following letter, which appears here only slightly abridged, penned circa 1932 by Nelson J. Bell, a Civil Engineer and member of the American Society of Civil Engineers. This letter is part and parcel of that magnificent paper, A History of the Development of Wooden Bridges, a paper authored by Jonathan Parker Snow and Robert Fletcher, and published in the Transactions of the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1934 (volume 99, page 314). I would draw your attention particularly to the final paragraph of Mr. Bell's letter:
This paper is most instructive, especially since technical literature in the past half century seems to have almost wholly neglected the subject. The general opinion among engineers has come to be that the old wooden highway bridges are fit objects of sentimental interest, but of very little practical worth in this age of steel and concrete. The paper by Messrs. Fletcher and Snow should bring home the fact that with only nominal care these old bridges have served their purpose with almost 100% efficiency over periods of 50 to 100 years, and therefore, may be worthy of close technical study before it is decided whether one should be further preserved for practical use or should be condemned and scrapped. The mortality of these old bridges has been greatly increased in recent years because of the lack of knowledge concerning them and the consequent off-hand opinion that they are unsafe under present day traffic.
The preponderance of the evident brought out in this paper is to the effect that bridges built by Wernwag, Burr, and most of their imitators, had an excess of strength everywhere except in their floor system and lateral bracing.
Several years ago, the writer was employed to investigate a wooden bridge spanning the Kentucky River near Camp Nelson, about twenty miles south of Lexington KY. This bridge was built in 1828 by Lewis Wernwag. It has a single span of 240 feet and is composed of three trusses which are identical in all respects, except that the outer ones are curved horizontally so as to form flat arches, equal and opposite to each other. The outer trusses are spaced about 25 feet, center- to-center, at the middle of the span, and about 30 feet, center to center at the ends. The center truss is straight and bisects the bridge forming two one-way roadways. The general design is so similar to that of the bridge over the Cheat River, Preston County, West Virginia, that both must have been designed by the same man.
The Camp Nelson Bridge is much heavier, the arches being composed of six pieces, in two rings of three pieces each. There is also a double web system, the main diagonals being composed of two pieces each, passing outside of the arch rings. The verticals have three pieces each, the center one passing between the arch rings and the others passing outside. Thus the arches are clamped against lateral deflection by the verticals and the diagonals. The verticals are dapped over the arches and bolted to them. But the diagonals have no connection to the arches, except by friction. An illustrated description of this bridge, with a tabulation of maximum stresses and an outline of the method of analysis was published in 1928 by the writer and J.K. Grannis, M. Am. Soc. C.E.
It seems to be characteristic of Wemwag's bridges that they have heavy arches with comparatively light stiffening trusses, and that their ends are anchored to the abutments by tension rods. The Camp Nelson Bridge is composed essentially of three arches, each braced laterally and vertically by a stiffening truss, and the whole tied together with lateral trusses at the top and bottom. The points of application of the loading on each arch are spaced uniformly along the perimeter of the arch by means of the inclined posts, set normal to the curve of the arch. Dead and uniform live loading therefore, causes compression in each arch, coincident with its center line. The truss is not stressed except by eccentric loads, under which conditions it distributes the loads uniformly to the arch, thus limiting all stress in the arch to compression. The stress distribution can be reasonably compared to that in a suspension bridge, the only difference being that in this case there is an arch in compression instead of a cable in tension. With any eccentric load on the truss, it extends to rotate on the arch. This must be counteracted either by the dead weight of the truss, or by anchoring the ends to the abutments, and it is interesting to note that the trusses of the Camp Nelson Bridge were actually anchored by wrought-iron rods extending from the tops of the end post down into the masonry.
The trusses by Burr and some others do not lend themselves to stress analysis as readily as those by Wemwag, as they seem to have been designed on the principle of a simple truss aided and strengthened by arches, so that there is no definite place where truss action stops and arch action begins. It would certainly be on the safe side to make the analysis on the basis of a stiffened arch where the arches have lateral and vertical support to prevent distortion, but as the dead load of these bridges greatly exceeds the live loads, it is more practical to assign the dead load to the arches and live load to the trusses and analyze them separately. In any case the judgment of the investigator enters largely into the problem, and must supplement the mathematical work. The main point which the writer wished to make is that the old wooden bridges should not be condemned and scrapped just because they were not designed with the aid of present day engineering knowledge and standards. Many of them can be made safe and serviceable for modem traffic by very simple repairs and reinforcements of their floors and lateral bracing systems, at a small fraction of the cost of removal and replacement.
Happy bridging, and see you all at the Annual Meeting on October 16th.
Sincerely, Your President
David W. Wright,
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By Dennis Rasmussen
Co-chairperson of Citizens for Rebuilding the Wimer Covered Bridge
It was two years ago -- July 6, 2003 -- that the covered bridge in Wimer spontaneously collapsed into Evans Creek and left the community shocked and saddened at the loss of its historic centerpiece. After the pieces were hauled away, a small group of residents formed the Citizens for Rebuilding the Wimer Covered Bridge and kept alive the desire to rebuild.
In April of 2004, Jackson County officials and bridge engineers met with over a hundred local residents to outline options for another bridge across Evans Creek in Wimer. The community voted overwhelmingly to rebuild an exact replica of the old wooden bridge. In addition to available grants, the community was faced with raising $334,000 to make up the difference.
That's when we got serious.
One year ago, around the first anniversary of the bridge collapse, we reorganized the committee, elected five new board members and sat down to draw up a Strategic Plan. As a starting place for public outreach, Dave Ehrhardt of the Rogue River Press generously offered us a monthly column to keep the community updated on our progress.
In one year we went from a group of three persons hanging on the dream of rebuilding another covered bridge, to an active group of over 30 dedicated volunteers who want to see that dream become reality. This group -- along with business owners, concerned citizens, volunteers, friends, families and other contributors from all over the area -- understands the value of restoring our historic treasures, remembering our heritage and continuing the legacy of our collective memories so we might pass them on to future generations.
Also, on a practical level, we understand the economic benefit of restoring a community icon that will, as it did in the past, attract visitors, car clubs, bikers, history buffs and other travelers to our area.
Here is a summary of what the community has accomplished in the past year: We...
With all that activity and fund-raising, however, we still have a long way to go. The net results of our accomplishments to date are projected to bring us about half way to our goal. We intend to press forward. We'll soon make presentations to the Lions Clubs of Rogue River and Jacksonville and to other civic organizations. We have started gathering recipes for Volume 2 of our popular cookbook and will soon have a picture catalogue of our fund raising products. In September we'll have a presence at the Oregon Covered Bridge Festival in Stayton (near Salem), the Southern Oregon Home Show, and the Jackson Co. Harvest Festival. Watch for announcements of other innovative fundraising events. While we're on schedule with fundraising, we count on the continued support from the entire community. After all, when we build another covered bridge, it will belong to all of us.
July 29, 2005
Senator Jeffords secured $46 million for covered bridges, $6 million for Vermont specifically. This is a mandatory, highway trust fund. The money is not subject to appropriation.
Of the amounts appropriated in section 1934 for item # to the State of Vermont for the rehabilitation of historic covered bridges, Congress intends that the State shall allocate $450,000 for the Creamery/West Hill Covered Bridge in Montgomery, VT; $450,000 for the Bowers Covered Bridge in West Windsor, VT; $500,000 for the Quinlan Covered Bridge in Charlotte, VT; $500,000 for the Gifford Covered Bridge in Randolph, VT; $500,000 for the Worrall Covered Bridge in Rockingham, VT; $450,000 for the Kingsbury Covered Bridge in Randolph, VT; $1,500,000 for the Taftsville Covered Bridge in Woodstock, VT; and $1,800,000 on the Pulp Mill Covered Bridge in Middlebury-Weybridge, VT.
Elizabeth Wright Plimpton Obituary: "Lib" Plimpton passed away on September 16,2004. She was NSPCB Life Member number 7. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends, especially her brother Bob, life member number 73, who put together a wonderful pictorial anthology of her life.
By George Eysenbach
We recently visited the covered bridges of Lancaster County, PA that we had not already seen. Shenck Mill C.B. (38-36-30) which is in East Hempfield and Rapho, Lancaster County, PA, was damaged by an oversized truck on May 30, 2005. One overhead cross-beam is splintered and one was deemed likely to fail. The police cut or had someone cut the center part of the beam away, and tie up the stubs, which remain. I was told it took three hours to get the truck out of the bridge. You may be able to inquire of the local police or possibly PA State Police for details of the incident. These photos were taken May 31, 2005.
By Bill Caswell, Webmaster for CSOY Project
October, 2005 - Summer is a time to get away from the computer and do some traveling. Since the last update I have been able to go "on tour" and spread the word about Covered Spans of Yesteryear in person. The weekend of June 25th and 26th was spent at the Vermont History Expo in Tunbridge. For those of you not familiar with this event, it is an annual gathering of the state's historical societies, historic preservation groups, genealogical groups, and just about anyone else with an interest in the history of the state and its people. CSOY shared a booth with the Vermont Covered Bridge Society and offered a PowerPoint slide presentation of Vermont's past covered bridges. People stopped by to inquire about the former bridges of their town, shared stories, and offered additional details about those structures.
In July, I made an all too brief visit to Ohio. A couple of days of bridging and an opportunity to attend the Ohio Historic Bridge Association's annual picnic at the Salt Creek Covered Bridge northeast of Zanesville. It was a wonderful time of fellowship with people we have been working with through email. I'd like to thank OHBA president David Simmons for offering me a few minutes to talk about the CSOY project and Miriam Wood for sharing her vast knowledge and expertise on Ohio's bridges.
Those events, along with the NSPCB meetings in July and August, provided a number of opportunities to make contacts, gather information and keep people updated on our progress.
While I was out roaming around, Bill Cockrell of the Oregon Covered Bridge Society was busy gathering photos from the Oregon DOT archives and having them put on a CD. As of this writing, nearly 400 pictures have been received and added to the website. A CD containing almost 400 pictures from Lisa Plamondon of Michigan has supplemented data from Ohio, Pennsylvania, and a few other states. If you are interested in offering pictures of the lost bridges in your area and have the ability to scan them, please contact me. There is still a vast amount of territory to cover and any help will be greatly appreciated. Email is usually the most effective way to contact me - email@example.com.
Text information from Pennsylvania is still being added. By the time you read this, all of the known covered bridges in that state should be documented in some form. Pictures will be added when time permits. In between batches of Pennsylvania data, details of former bridges in Delaware and Kentucky have been posted. Next we will begin on the tremendous volume of information from Ohio.
We have established a number of contacts, but are still lacking in certain areas. Specifically, there is a need for people with knowledge of lost bridges in the southeastern states. If you can help in this area, please let us know.
by Bob and Trish Kane
Blenheim Covered Bridge - NY -32-48-01 A beautiful autumn day only complemented the 150th celebration of the Blenheim Covered Bridge. Unfortunately, we were not able to attend the celebration, but from all accounts, it was well attended and everyone had a great time walking through the village and participating in the events planned for the day. After 150 years, the Blenheim Covered Bridge stills stands proud and strong and is another one of New York's Covered Bridge gems.
Erwin Park Covered Bridge - NY-32-33-03 The weather cooperated
beautifully for the dedication of New York's newest Covered Bridge in
Boonville, NY. Approximately 250 covered bridge enthusiasts from all over
New York as well as other states were in attendance. If you were fortunate
enough to obtain one of the magnets and the pre-canceled envelopes, you
were very lucky. Both are beautiful and wonderful souvenirs from an
historic event and designed by Boonville artist John D. Mahaffy. The
authentic, old-fashioned-looking bridge spans the Black River Feeder
Canal, and connects the canal's towpath with Erwin Park, along State Route
12 in the village. Although the bridge is certainly strong enough to hold
vehicles, it was built for snowmobiles, 22 feet wide, including a 6-foot
walkway. Two 6-foot cupolas sit atop the bridge and feature a stained
glass window at each end. Nearly 3,000 hours of volunteer labor went into
the structure. Isn't it amazing what a small town and dedicated
volunteers can do when they put their minds to it! When visiting this
bridge, please take note of the beautiful pine cone engravings above the
portals and along the trim. The pine cones are significant because of the
Colorado blue spruce that once stood in another park in Boonville. This
tree was approximately 70 years old and 18" in diameter. The wood from
this tree is part of the trim over the portals. Congratulations to the
town of Boonville and everyone involved with the construction of this
beautiful covered bridge. The Erwin Park Covered Bridge is a wonderful
addition to New York's already great collection of covered bridges,
bringing our total of authentic bridges up to thirty- three.
Erwin Park Covered Bridge located in Boonville, NY. Richard Wilson, who took this photograph on August 27, 2005, and who is President of the NY State Covered Bridge Society, was the keynote speaker.
By Bill Cockrell, President of Covered Bridge Society of Oregon
About 30 die-hard covered bridge enthusiasts attended the dedication of the rebuilt Fisher School Covered Bridge on June 4, 2005. Although most of the timbers, roof and decking is new, Lincoln County kept the name, Fisher School Bridge. Also, the county nailed the old sign back onto the bridge with the bridge name and date of construction. Three Lincoln County commissioners and Lincoln County master, Jim Buisman presided over the festivities, which were co-hosted by the Covered Bridge Society of Oregon. Visitors enjoyed cake and punch following the ribbon cutting.
The Fisher School Bridge had been closed to traffic since the 1970s, when a new concrete span was built. Over the years, the covered bridge deteriorated and finally the county declared it unfit for pedestrian traffic.
Visitors pose for a photo at the Fisher School Bridge dedication. Photo courtesy of Bill Cockrell.
The Morning Call, Allentown, PA, June 22, 2005, Pennridge Hosts Movie on Mood's Covered Bridge. Approximately one year after the historic Mood's Covered Bridge was destroyed by arson, two local organizations have put together a 40-minute documentary called "Burning Bridges." The movie tries to catch the outrage from the community and also show the remorse of the six men who plead guilty to the crime.
Courier-Post, NJ, April I, 2005, Enduring Appeal of Covered Bridge. The Scarborough Covered Bridge which crosses the Cooper River is one of just two covered bridges in NJ.It opened on Valentine's Day in 1959 and was the last one built in NJ. It was also the first one built there in 92 years.
The Oregonian, August 7, 2005, A City Pins its Hopes on Face-Lift for a Bridge. The Lowell Bridge in Lane County is due for a $3.3M makeover that includes bridge renovations, construction of a rest area and interpretive panels. The project is scheduled to be completed next June.
The Eagle, Cambridge, NY, August 18, 2005, Buskirk Bridge Suffers Minor Damage to Facade. A truck hit the top of the recently renovated Buskirk Covered Bridge causing some $2500 in damage to three wooden slats in the entrance to the bridge.
Rutland Herald, VT, June 22, 2005, A Truck Too Tall, A Bridge Too Small. The top of a dump truck caught the wooden beams of the historic Depot Covered Bridge over the Otter Creek. CONTRIBUTORS: Arlene Mills, Sandy Adrian, Bill Cockrell, Richard Wilson, Irene Barna.
by Gordon O'Reilly
Good news for three Massachusetts covered bridges. The Massachusetts State Highway Department is in the process of rehabilitating the Burkeville Bridge in Conway, the Arthur A. Smith Bridge in CoIrain and the Bissel Bridge in Charlemont. Two of these bridges were in very poor condition so it is encouraging news. The bridges will be designed and rehabilitated to carry vehicular traffic and support code wind and snow loads. The Burkeville Bridge construction is nearly complete. The Smith Bridge is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2006. The design is complete for the Bissel Bridge with construction scheduled to begin in the spring of 2006 and to be completed in the summer of 2007.
An excellent treatise on the rehabilitation engineering involved with these bridges is written by Matthew Anderson and S.D. Daniel Lee in "Wood Design Focus," Summer 2005.
by Pauline Prideaux
First, I want to thank all of you who spread the word of our society by putting tack-up cards at the Covered Bridges that you visited over the spring and summer. I have lots of cards if you need more. Our annual meeting is approaching and I thought I'd let you know how the membership is growing. We had 58 members reinstate with us and we're very glad to have your continued interest and support. Three members took advantage of the Life membership status. We are also excited to welcome 23 new members this year to the society. With the fall and winter months ahead we can continue the membership drive with tack-up cards being used on your next bridging photo trips. On a side note, I appreciate your patience with my move to Florida coming at the same time the newsletter went out in July. Please make note of the new address.
We are very happy to have to offer a couple of items in commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the National Society for the Preservation of Covered Bridges.
Tote Bag - Has the National Society for the Preservation of Covered Bridges emblem in dark blue on front pocket measuring 12 1 /2" by 15 1 /2" with a top snap and 20" handle straps. Available for $15 including shipping
Ornament -Also has the Society emblem. It's a 3" round glass maroon ornament with the emblem in gold. Available for $7 including shipping
Pens -Pens have "I love Covered Bridges - N.S.P.C.B." written on them. Available for $1.25 including shipping.
PLEASE MAKE CHECKS OR MONEY ORDERS TO N.S.P.C.B. INC and mail to;
The following are items still available through the Society: All of the items below are available from June Roy, 73 Ash Street, Manchester, NH 03104-4906 or E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
The Book, Life in the Slow Lane is still available for
$16.95 + $3.95 Shipping and Handling.
Books Available by Andrew Howard:
CB's of Madison County IA, A Guide . . . . . .$6.50
There is also an excellent book out on Vermont Covered Bridges called, "Spanning Time -- Vermont's Covered Bridges." You can get a copy by contacting Joseph Nelson, 2 Sugar Hill Road, Underhill VT 05489 or visit www.vermontbridges.com. Joseph Nelson is the President of the Vermont Society.
New book by Joseph Conwill: Images of America, "VERMONT COVERED BRIDGES." It sells for $19.99 plus $3.00 shipping and handling.
Return to topJoe Nelson, P.O Box 267, Jericho, VT 05465-0267