Back to Tunbridge Celebration.

Tunbridge's Mill Bridge Back in Place

Monday, July 3, 2000

Mill Bridge at Tunbridge: Photo by
Joe Nelson, 7/3/00

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.
        On Monday morning the new bridge sat ready on rollers. A four-sheave block and tackle attached to the bridge and to the near shore was stretched across the river between a pair of steel girders, the hauling line made fast to a windlass, or sweep, with several turns around its barrel.

Mill Bridge at Tunbridge: Photo by
Joe Nelson, 7/3/00         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.
Mill Bridge at Tunbridge: Photo by
David Guay, 7/3/00         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.

Mill Bridge at Tunbridge: Photo by
Joe Nelson, 7/3/00         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.

Mill Bridge at Tunbridge: Photo by
Joe Nelson, 7/3/00The new bridge is in place just sixteen months after the original was destroyed, possibly a record.

Bridge. Photo by Dick Wilson, 5/13/00 The bridge under construction, May, 2000.

Return to top

Joe Nelson, P.O Box 267, Jericho, VT 05465-0267,

No part of this web site may be reproduced without the written permission of Joseph C. Nelson
Text Copyright © 2000, Joseph C. Nelson
Photographs Copyright ©, 2000, Joe Nelson, David Guay, and Richard Wilson, repectively.
This file updated July 29, 2000