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Tunbridge's Mill Bridge Back in Place
Monday, July 3, 2000
On March 5, 1999, after a two day struggle to bring in equipment to rescue it, the Mill Bridge
was destroyed by river ice. On July 3, just sixteen months after the loss, a covered bridge crosses
the First Branch of the White River at the Village of Tunbridge once again. Actual construction
began during the first week of March, very nearly on the anniversary of the ice jam.
One last chore and all would be ready; a crewman climbed to the gable-end to install the recently restored sign "One Dollar Fine for a person to drive a horse or other beast faster than a walk or drive more than one loaded team at the same time on this bridge."
At 9 a.m. Tom Mullen brought his team of oxen, Buckshot and Shorty to the sweep and began the circular journey. Three other teams of oxen took their turns as the bridge was inched across the stream. Contractor Neil Daniels worked with his crewman as they made adjustments and measured progress. The bridge's designer, consulting engineer Phil Pierce, watched from the crowd of onlookers. Five hours and twelve minutes later, after many stops and starts, screechings and groanings, and one startling bang! The bridge is in place.
The bridge will be officially opened to traffic with a dedication to take place on July 22. Meanwhile, The new bridge will be lifted onto bed timbers, the deck and siding completed and the steel girders removed.
The new structure is probably the fifth to span this place. Photographic evidence from the 1870's indicates that an open bridge served here before it was replaced by the bridge recently lost to ice. The house at the west approach has changed but little in outward appearance from those early years. The brick building beside the bridge was a blacksmith shop first established in 1791. The first bridge at the site was built in 1797 and destroyed by flood the following year. The replacement bridge served until 1815 and was followed by a third.
The fourth bridge, according to Euclid Farnham, was built by Arthur Adams in 1883 at a cost of $523.32. The timbers were prepared at the sawmill housed in the brick and frame building that still stands next to the bridge site. The new bridge, Built by Neil Daniels Construction of Ascutney, Vermont, cost $230,000.
For a brief history of Tunbridges Mill Bridge, click on The Mill Bridge Reconstruction -- Tunbridge,Vt.
The new bridge is in place just sixteen months after the original was destroyed, possibly a record.
The bridge under construction, May, 2000.
Joe Nelson, P.O Box 267, Jericho, VT 05465-0267, firstname.lastname@example.org
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