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Vermont Covered Bridge Society 9th Annual Spring Meeting
Waterville Town Hall,
VT Route 109, Waterville, Vermont
April 25, 2009
10:00 a.m. - Welcome
- Business Meeting
- Reading of minutes of last meeting
- Committee reports
- Old Business
- New Business - Archivist William Carroll will present his
work with the VCBS collections.
11:15 a.m. - Presentation: The Bridges of Lamoille County,
by Joe Nelson
12:00 p.m. - Break, Drawing for prizes, Memorabilia Table
1:00-3:00 p.m. - Tour Area Covered Bridges
There will be coffee, tea and snacks to be had during our
Bring your own lunch.
Directions: (also, see map) The Town Hall stands on Rt 109
across from the Church Street intersection.
From Burlington: Take Vt. Route 15 east to Jeffersonville,
turn left at flashing red light onto Vt. Route 108 north 1/8 mi.
then turn right on Vt. Route 109 North to Waterville.
From I89: Leave I89 at Exit 12. Go North on Vt, Rt 2A to
Essex Junction Five Corners. Take Vt. Route 15 east to
Jeffersonville, turn left at flashing red light onto Vt. Route
108 north 1/8 mi. then turn right on Vt. Route 109 North to
•Deer run Motor Inn, Route 15, Jeffersonville, Vt , 800-354-2728
•Sinclair Inn Bed & Breakfast, 389 VT Route 15, Jericho, Vt,
•Homeplace Bed & Breakfast, Old Pump Road, Jericho, Vt,
•Smuggler's Notch Inn, 55 Church Rock Path, Cambridge, Vt,
•Holiday Inn, 1068 Williston Road, S. Burlington, Vt, 800799-
•Comfort Inn & Suites, 5 Dorset Street, S. Burlington, Vt,
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The VCBS Annual Board of Directors Meeting
February 23, 2009
This year, the Board of Directors considered nine proposals:
Note: There are 14 directors on the board. Eight directors
constitute a quorum.
- The rules for Nominations and Voting are simplified.* Yes 13, No 0
- To update the bylaws to reflect changes in the types of
memberships offered and to remove the voting restriction
from the Student Membership.** Yes 13, No 0
- The requirement that the vote for officers must take place
at the Annual Meeting is deleted. Yes 13, No 0
- A cross-reference in the bylaws is corrected. Yes 13, No
- 6) To simplify the budgeting procedure by removing a
redundant step.*** Yes 13, No 0
- Should the terms of office for President, Vice President,
Secretary, and Treasurer be increased from one year to two?
**** Yes 13, No 0
- The proposed budget is presented for adjustment and
approval. Yes 13, No 0
- Shall Ellen Everitz be inducted into the VCBS Board of
Directors? Yes 13, No 0
- Shall the donations received in 2008 be put into the Save-
a-bridge Fund? Yes 13, No 0
*Item1: The rules for Nominations and Voting are simplified.
The original nomination system required the Board to
select a three person nominations committee each year. Due
to the lack of volunteers, this effort has never been successful.
The nomination process contacted the membership looking
for candidates, mailed out ballots to the membership with
write-in slots, received and counted ballots and announced the
winners. A write-in using this method is lost.
The new Nomination and Voting process eliminates
the need for a nominations committee, an expensive ballot
mailing, and gives potential candidates an opportunity to
make themselves known to the membership.
Each election year the society newsletter summer
issue will elicit candidates for president, vice president,
secretary, and treasurer. Candidates will submit bios to be
published in the fall issue with the ballot. Voters will return
the ballots provided in the fall issue of the society newsletter
by the published deadline for the winter issue of the society
newsletter, in which the winners will be announced. (The
incumbent officers will serve until midnight, December 31.)
Every member in good standing is entitled to vote.
This includes the adult members listed on a Family
membership and the contact person on a Business or
**Item 2: To update the bylaws to reflect changes in the types
of memberships offered and to remove the voting restriction
from the Student Membership. Three types of membership are
"Active" memberships, which are renewed each year,
are renamed "Annual." These include Individual, Family,
Student, Business and Organization/Municipality
The Associate membership is discontinued. There
have been no Associate members for a number of years. Life
memberships are updated to include Life-couple and
Honorary. Contributing Member (CM) memberships are
***Item 6: To simplify the budgeting procedure by removing
a redundant step.
Under the current rules, the Budget Committee is
charged with allocating Society funds among the several
standing committees using data collected by the Treasurer
from the chairs of those committees. The resulting proposed
budget is then presented to the Board of Directors for
Under the new rules the Budget Committee is deleted
as redundant because the chairs of the standing committees
are on the board of directors. The treasurer will present his
budget proposal directly to the Board of Directors and let the
board accept or adjust the allocated amounts.
****Item 7: Two year terms will begin with the 2010
The revised Member's Handbook with VCBS By-laws will be
sent to members on request. It will be available in print or
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This is an important time of the year for bridge-watch. The
snows of late winter/early spring are often the most stressful
time for covered bridges - especially those without metal
roofs to shed the heavy loads.
We are having our 2009 elections a little late this
year - per Bridger ballot. The reason is that with all the
exciting covered bridge events going on late last fall (2008),
we simply forgot to conduct elections. This election will be
for the 2009 term only. Please mark your Bridger ballots.
I look forward to seeing everyone at our VCBS
Spring meeting in April.
John Weaver, President, VCBS
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VCBS 2008 Election of Officers for One-Year Terms
Please find and complete the ballot included in this
issue of the bridger. Send your vote to: VCBS Election, c/o
Joe Nelson, P.O. Box 267, Jericho, VT 05465, or email your
choices to firstname.lastname@example.org. All ballots must be cast by
April 1 to be counted.
The membership was not canvassed for candidates
this year, so this ballot will serve that purpose. Members
wishing to run for office are asked to write themselves in for
the office of their choice and return their ballot with a bio.
The election results will be presented at the Annual Spring
Meeting to be held in Waterville, Vt., April 25. Write-ins
will be considered at that time.
If you wish to add your name to the Society Birthday
and Anniversary announcement list please fill in the bottom
of the ballot. If you have entered dates before, you need not
do so again. If you have a new email address you may enter
it here. Signing up for the PDF version of the quarterly
Bridger newsletter will save the Society mailing costs and
you will receive your newsletter in full color in a timely
manner (the website version is always posted at the end of the
quarter. Dial-up customers might not be happy with the
transfer rate of the PDF data set).
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THE COVERED BRIDGES OF ORLEANS AND ESSEX
by C. Ernest Walker
The LaMoille River formerly had its origin in the
southern outlet of a small pond in a high saddle between two
hills in the eastern part of Orleans County. The grist mill at
Glover on the north side of the saddle lacked water and it was
suggested that a small ditch from the high pond would
provide the additional water supply needed.
Unfortunately the ditch broke a thin seal of hard-pan
which overlaid a deep bed of quicksand. The pressure of
water quickly undermined the whole north end as the entire
pond surged down the valley, destroying the mill. As it joined
the Barton River, it continued, and emptied into Lake
Memphremagog that same night. A granite tablet by the side
of a large grassy depression marks the site of "Runaway
Pond". (June 6, 1810.)
Three of the covered bridges of this County have
been lost so recently that they are included in this article.
The "Orne" Bridge over Lord's Creek was taken apart
in nineteen hundred and fifty-eight and its timbers removed
to the LaBland Farm, with the intention of being used in
building a private bridge over the Black River. The original
bridge, built by John D. Colton in 1881, was very attractive
with an arched portal, and having winged curves to the eaves.
It was a short bridge, not long enough for its new location.
The Coventry Bridge in Irasburg over the Black River
is unique in the feature that all members of the frame are
gained in one inch at all intersections making a frame which
is flush at all points. It has long light plank auxiliary diagonal
braces which run by the uprights at top and bottom - a
common practice in Northern New England. Built in 1881 by
John D. Colton with a roadway of sixty-six feet, it is without
arch or middle pier and has an extended arched and winged
The small "Morgan Bridge" over Sucker Brook - the
highest above sea-level in Vermont, (fourteen hundred and
fifty feet) was removed in nineteen hundred and fifty-eight.
It was of queen-post construction and was built in eighteen
hundred and eighty-nine by Lorenzo and Osborne Farr.
The Westfield bridge, known as the "Taft Brook
Bridge", is over a tributary of the Missisquoi River. Lying
over a very deep ravine, its lattice frame is buttressed and it
appears well cared for.
Further north in North Troy two bridges spanned the
Missisquoi River. The "Lower" Bridge led to a privately
owned farm. Its latticed and side buttressed frame appeared
solid, but there must have been a weak spot in either the
bridge or the abutment, for about Christmas time in nineteen
hundred and fifty-seven the longer span of ninety-one feet fell
in the river and floated around a bend before it lodged and
collapsed. It was not far from the spectacular picnic ground
at Great Falls, on the River Road.
The "Upper" Bridge over the Missisquoi is of one
long span of ninety-three feet. The bridge has a pronounced
crown or camber, has red portals and three side buttresses on
each side. Both the Troy bridges were originally clapboarded
one-half way up, and were built of Town lattice construction.
So now there are only three covered bridges standing
in Orleans County, Vermont.
Probably there never were very many covered bridges
in Essex County, and only two now are standing; the
responsibility of the upkeep in each case being assumed by
New Hampshire, beyond Vermont's mean water-line, on the
I have been told that the cover of the Private Crate
Farm Bridge in Canaan has been removed. It was a low king-
post bridge, only thirty feet long over Leach Creek. Andrew
Holmes had the bridge built on a pasture lane of his farm in
nineteen hundred and twenty-seven and still used it for cattle
in nineteen hundred and fifty-four.
There are two Connecticut River Bridges still
standing between Lemington, Vermont and "Columbia
Bridge", New Hampshire; and between Lunenburg, Vermont
and Lancaster, New Hampshire.
The former is one hundred and forty-eight feet long
of one span, built an nineteen hundred and twelve by Charles
Babbitt to take the place of the one burned in nineteen
hundred and eleven. It has a strong Howe truss frame,
creosoted, and has its own electric light meter. The bridge is
picturesque, very well kept up and very important to its
The Lunenburg or "Mt. Orne" bridge has two spans;
two hundred and eight-five feet over all, and was built by the
Babbitt Brothers, in nineteen hundred and eleven. The same
Howe truss type of frame was used. The Guildhall, Vermont
to Lancaster, New Hampshire bridge over the Connecticut
River was removed about nineteen hundred and fifty.
*[This article was taken with permission from the January,
1960 issue of Covered Bridge Topics. Since this writing, the
Lower, or River Road Bridge was arsoned (1997). A replica
stands in its place today. The Westfield Bridge was replaced
with a culvert in 1961. If you would like to read more of C.
Ernest Walkers work, go to the VCBS Members Library and
sign out his Covered Bridge Ramblings in New England. See
the Library column in this issue - Ed.]
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February 1, 2009 - Dear Mr. Nelson: This is to acknowledge
receipt of your Society's check in the amount of $700,
representing the balance of Katherine Ramsey's bequest. It
has been deposited with our Town Clerk in the Lyndon
Heritage Fund account and earmarked toward the
rehabilitation of the Randall Covered Bridge here in Lyndon.
Please relay our thanks to President Weaver, Treasurer
Daniels, and the membership of the Vermont Covered Bridge
Society for their "due diligence" in carrying out Mrs.
I can't report any exciting news with regard to the
project. As I advised some time back, Dubois and King are
working on the rehab design specifications and RFP's to be
provided to prospective contractors in accordance with the
(fully-funded) $32,000 contract. Lyndon municipal
administrator Dan Hill is our liaison with the engineering
consultants and has been very supportive of the project. I
doubt that we will see the results until late spring or summer.
We still have to solicit some sizable preservation grants to
help finance the actual construction work. While I understood
that such funding was "readily available," we wonder whether
the state of the economy will alter that picture. Perhaps there
is a covered bridge bailout fund...?
At any rate, we will keep you posted whenever there are
developments worthy of reporting.
Once again Thank you - A. Richard Boera for the Lyndon
December 29, 2008 - Haunted Bridges
Hi Joe: Apropos of haunted covered bridges, there is an
article in the bridge files about an experience someone had at
the Hammond Bridge in Pittsford, which led them to believe
it might be haunted.
When I stopped there last summer or early fall, it
didn't feel haunted to me. But that was daylight hours, and
with other people around - Bill Carroll
[VCBS Life Member Bill Carroll is an archivist working with
the Society’s historical collections - Ed.]
The following was taken from the article sent by Bill Carroll.
It came from the October/November issue of Country
Magazine: - While vacationing in Vermont, a couple from
Connecticut visited the Hammond Covered Bridge in
Pittsford. The wife stayed in the car while the husband
walked through the bridge. Suddenly, the car door locks
clicked shut, then open, then shut and open again.
Her first thought was that the husband was pressing
the keyless remote, but the keys and remote were hanging
from the ignition switch. Just then, the husband returned to
the car. "I heard such strange noises on that bridge, like
people talking and working, but I walked all the way to the
end of the bridge, and no one was there.”
|The halos at the Bob White Bridge VA-68-01|
Photo by Don Overman
December 13, 2008 - Haunted Bridges
Joe: We just got our copy of The Bridger this morning.
I read with interest your article on the haunted bridges.
One of our ex members took the attached pictures at the
Bob White Covered Bridge in Woolwine, Virginia. I had
the pictures analyzed by a photo expert and he said he
thought it was sprocket marks.
The member, Don Overman thought they were
ghost pictures. When Mom and I were talking to the
people of Stuart, Virginia, I showed them these pictures
as kind of a joke. They became very serious and said it
was a HALO. They said they had seen this several times
when people were baptized in the creek next to the
Thanks Much; Steve Pierce, Covered Bridge
Society of Virginia, Inc.
December 11, 2008 - Hi Joe, I received the Vermont
newsletter and enjoyed it very much. A good job was
done on it!
The articles about the "Authenticity" of covered
bridges is a very interesting one. Most bridgers use this
term to describe a covered bridge that is fully truss
supported (not supported by stringer beams, etc.).
Therefore a covered bridge can be "authentic" regardless
of it's age.
I fully support the rebuilding of the Moscow
Covered Bridge in Indiana. It is a classic old covered
bridge that must be saved. With Jim Barker in charge of
the project, the chances of it being properly restored is
very good. This was my overall favorite covered bridge.
I should note (with no intentions of nit-picking) that the
dues for the Oregon Society are $15.00 for B&W issues,
not $25.00. (page 4). Also George and Tina Conn's
anniversary is listed on two different days (page 11).
[Oops! We mistook! Tina and George Conn celebrated
their wedding anniversary on February 14, not February
24, and Tina Conn's birthday was on December 24.
Richard Howrigan's birthday was on February 14, not
February 2 - Ed.]
The winter has arrived here much too early this
year and I have been extra busy getting firewood out of
the woods when it isn't too damp. This coming week will
be very wet, though. I much prefer to gather and cut
wood when it is below freezing. My furnace runs on
propane and it is too expensive to turn it on!
Take care, Brian McKee
[Brian, residing in Ohio, is Editor of the NSPCB
newsletter, and author of Historic American Covered
Bridges, 1997, ASCE Press -Ed.]
Hi Folks - This post card was sent to Liz by a college friend. Milo, Maine is at the confluence of the Pleasant, Sebec and Piscataquis rivers in Piscataquis County, at the junction of state routes 11 and 6/16. I have scanned front and back so you can see postage rates: "One cent for U.S. and Island possessions, Cuba Canada and Mexico. Two Cents for foreign." Any info that you can provide about this bridge would be appreciated. - Tom Keating
Hi Tom: Nice find. I checked Bill Caswell's http://www.lostbridges.org and found he has identified the bridge and has posted the same photo as that on your postcard. He identifies it as Village Bridge, Milo, Piscataquis County, ME, Built in 1869 Lost in 1915. His info source is N.S.P.C.B. Covered Bridge Topics, Volume LXI, No. 2 (Spring 2003), page 13. - Joe Nelson.
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August 1, 2008 - by William Carroll
Kidder Hill Bridge. On past visits to this bridge I have
noticed that Town of Grafton trucks use it, apparently to
access a gravel pit up the hill. These trucks are pretty large,
and heavy when filled. Now there has been a ford cleared and
graded adjacent to the bridge, and I assume that the trucks are
using this rather than the bridge. As usual with this bridge
there is considerable gravel on the deck, a result of rain water
sheeting down the road. There should be a concrete or
blacktop apron for a few feet at the portals with a transverse
drainage channel, like the covered bridges on gravel roads in
Victorian Village Bridge. The owners have done an excellent
job of clearing undergrowth and brush in and near the stream
Grafton Cheese Bridge. According to a plaque on the bridge
recently installed by the Windham Foundation, the name of
this bridge is the McWilliam Bridge, named after an early
farming family in the area.
Worrall Bridge. No rehabilitation work has been done on this
bridge at this time. There are recent numbers chalked on the
December 16, 2008 - by Ron Bechard
Cambridge Junction or Poland Bridge. Winter barriers to
exclude vehicular traffic are in place by the town road crew.
|Cambridge Junction Bridge, Broken Curb-rail. Photo by
Prior to placing the winter barriers, I noticed damage
to the approach-curb-rails has recurred, this time on both ends
of the bridge, but not as severe as the last time.
That damage was repaired and restored to its original state,
but I expect repeated incidents will cause the structure
damage that might be quite costly as well as presenting
hazards to structure and any traffic passing through.
The same conditions and possible causes of these
problems still exist as I explained in my reports dated 6/28/07
and 6/17/08. The bridge is in otherwise, great condition.
January 13, 2009 by Ray Hitchcock
Field Report - I stopped in city hall and visited with Everett
Hammond, Public Works Director for the town of
We visited on the Rockingham covered bridges in
general and my two assigned ones Bartonsville and Worrall
specifically. We discussed signage as suggested by Joe. He
was agreeable to modifying the existing signs posted at State Hwy’s
103 & 11 which mention only the load limits. He intends to add
height restrictions as well next summer. Load limits and height
restrictions are posted onlyat the bridge. The Worrall bridge
only has a historic sign on 103 with no reference to load limit
or height restrictions at this intersection. The arch bridge over
the railroad tracks on the way to the bridge looks worse – if that
is possible. I suck air each time I go over this old metal structure
with pocketed concrete deck.
|Worrall Bridge VT-13-10|
Photo by Ray
Hitchcock January 2009
He indicated that Rockingham is proud of its covered
bridges and intended to keep them for a long time. He also
reviewed with me the biannual maintenance that the town
provides to its bridges. This includes, vacuuming and then
cleaning the bridge with compressed air. They no longer wash
the bridges with pressure washers.
He did express an interest again in having volunteers
do light maintenance such as weed whacking or mowing. He
thought that the insurance concerns could be managed in a
variety of ways including temporary hiring of “volunteers” by
the town or the Society getting its own insurance. I intend to
follow up more on the insurance issue when I have a specific
project in mind.
|Frank Anderson Rockingham Highway Maintenance
Photo by Raymond Hitchcock February 2009|
He does appreciate the other set of eyes and really likes
digital picture of specific concerns. Even would like them
marked up with a close up shot.
It turns out a truck driver admitted damaging the Worrall
bridge. He apparently had the bed tilted up somewhat.
Although the damage on the adjacent Bartonsville bridge
looks extremely similar it did not occur in the same time
period. They have repair orders in on both bridges but crews
have been extremely busy with our wild winter weather. Seen
on the following photo is Frank Anderson of the Rockingham
Highway maintenance working on the replacement timbers
from a local sawmill. He replaced the broken hemlock roof
support beams with hemlock.
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VCBS Library News
Don't forget, we have books, a lot of them, seventy-
plus volumes on covered bridges, authored by Richard
Sanders Allen, H.W. Congdon, Eric Sloan, E.W. Walker,
H.R. Howard, and many others. All of these books were
donated to the Vermont Covered Bridge Society and are
available for sharing with members in good standing.
To borrow an item or request the book listing, please
call or write Warren Trip, P.O. Box 236, Groton, VT, phone
(802) 584-3545 (no email, for a listing in PDF, email Joe
Nelson at email@example.com).
If you have some books about covered bridges you
would like to donate to the library, please contact Warren,
he'll be happy to take them.
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The Events Committee will be making arrangements for the
Fall 2009 meeting in Windsor at the old toll house and
property in the shadow of the Cornish Windsor Bridge. The
meeting, hosted by Neil and Suzanne Daniels, will take place
in late September or early October, the date will be
announced in the VCBS website, www.vermontbridges.com,
and in the Fall Bridger (August 31).
The Spring2010 meeting
will be held in Jeffersonville at Terry and Jane's Art Gallery,
the date not yet set.
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Question number 10 - When Delaware County, New York
decided to refurbish the 173 foot span bridge in Downsville,
they designed a single span beam. Unadilla Laminated
Products took that as a challenge and proceeded to
manufacture and deliver the longest engineered glue
laminated beam. Covered bridge builders and restorers are
familiar with the glulam timber option. Often glulam is
acceptable because the installation is dubbed reversible.
Glulam is also a more acceptable option over steel beams
because, among other things, its expansion and contraction
characteristics are compatible with that of a wooden bridge.
Civil engineers may favor this choice when they restore a
bridge to increase its capacity. On the other hand,
preservationists reject the option because the option is not
traditional. - Trish & Bob Kane
In your opinion, do you feel glulam beams are an acceptable
option in restoring or rehabilitating our covered bridges
today? Is it an acceptable option over steel beams?
Joseph Conwill, ME
I do not think that glulam is ever acceptable in covered bridge
Robert Durfee, NH
There is no clear yes or no answer to this question. It is a
matter of application and under what circumstances. I will
answer this question in two parts: restoration or rehabilitation.
Restoration: Restoration of a covered bridge is to bring the
bridge back to its former state, to repair it in kind, to return it
to its’ original condition.
I do not feel glulam beams are an
acceptable option when restoring a covered bridge. Glulam
members are not historically accurate (traditional) for a
restoration. In almost all incidences of restoration I know of,
a broken, rotted or insect damaged member can be repaired or
replaced with sawn timber of the same species. If a higher
strength member is needed, the member can be repaired or
replaced with sawn timber of a stronger species (usually
Southern Yellow Pine or Douglas Fir).
Rehabilitation: Rehabilitation of a covered bridge is to readapt
it for a different use, add to it in some fashion, or to
improve its current condition. Rehabilitation many times
includes adapting the bridge for use by pedestrians only,
strengthening the bridge to carry heaver truck loads, adding
fire protection and fire prevention systems, or adding other
features such a lighting and windows.
I feel glulam beams
are an acceptable option when rehabilitating a covered bridge,
if sawn timber addition or replacement cannot satisfy the
structural requirements. Glulam if used, should be installed
in compliance with the “Secretary of the Interior- Standards
for Rehabilitation” in that any beams added are revisable, and
can be removed in the future under a restoration. There are
several covered bridges in New England where full length
glulam beams are added under the trusses, to
support heaver truck loads, while the trusses remain and
support lighter truck loads and cars.
Is it an acceptable option over steel beams? I would say yes
to this question. If a steel beam is being considered for
rehabilitating and strengthening a bridge, using glulam beams
would be preferable over a steel beam. Glulam beams are
preferred over steel beams because its’ expansion,
contraction and deflection (stiffness) characteristics are
compatible with that of a wooden bridge. For the same length
of beam needed, glulam beams are deeper than steel beams.
It is not always possible to “fit” a deeper glulam beam under
a bridge, and sometimes the only option is to install a smaller
steel beam that fits.
It would certainly be better not to use glulam. It does have the
advantages of more strength and longer lengths (and thus
fewer connections which are often weak points).
Vermont has taken the position that it is best to keep
covered bridges on the transportation system if possible. This
often means higher loads and traffic as well as provable
engineering. I agree with that premise.
Keeping them in use provides funding and
maintenance opportunities that don't exist for unused bridges.
Besides covered bridges are practical crossings that can most
often be rehabilitated to meet needs and still meet the
Secretary of Interior's Standards for Historic Preservation
Therefore the use of glulam makes sense under some
limited conditions. If, for example, additional strength is
needed in the bottom chord of a bridge to meet reasonable
weight limits, glulam can often be used in a way that holds
the dimensions of all the timber framing. If larger timbers
were used it changes the cuts and angles for timbers fit to the
chord. This is what makes it reversible.
The Windsor Cornish Bridge is a good example of
this use. New Hampshire passed a law that required this
bridge to meet H20 (semi-truck) loading. The only way that
could be achieved was through the use of bolster beams and
160 ft. long glulam bottom chords.
Another more radical use was in the small very
lightly framed covered bridge in Grafton VT. In that case two
large glulam beams were placed in the bridge to provide
support. Otherwise the entire bridge would have had to be
rebuilt with larger timbers etc. It is reversible and the original
bridge is in place. I will say that it’s not pretty. It is
important to remember that each covered bridge is an
individual with its own strengths, weaknesses and needs.
There is no single answer that we should never use glulam
that we should use it wherever we can.
I believe preservationists object to the use of glulams
and other non-traditional materials only when the historic
structure is functioning well without them. In the case of
wooden truss bridges, timber and timber connections
(particularly tension connections) are often stressed to and
beyond their limits, but we don't wish to either subdivide the
bridge or alter its use. The question then becomes: what is the
least intrusive intervention? Sometimes it is glulam.
Glulam has the virtue of being made of wood (and
glue) and coming in long pieces, thus eliminating the section
loss at tension joinery. Glulams have generally higher design
values, making them appealing to engineers who cannot get
"the numbers to work" for a given timber structure,
but paradoxically it doesn't mean glulams are any
stronger than a piece of timber of similar species and quality.
The higher design values come from the assumption that all
glulams are at the high end of any distribution of strength
properties for a given dimension and species. It is thought that
the process of factory selecting which lamina to use and
where to locate them in a glulam beam produce a beam
remarkably free of defects, but some glulams are better than
others and I have had to reject several.
Overall, I could probably restore almost any bridge to its
original camber without the use of glulams. In a bridge such
as Cornish-Windsor however, it probably would have
required increasing the dimensions of the natural timber
chords substantially. In other cases the tension joinery needs
improvement. Engineers should not specify glulams merely
to make their calculations work. They should spend adequate
time at the bridge to determine whether the member or
category of members they are tempted to replace is actually
distorting or failing in any way. If not, keep the member or
replace it in kind or with a stronger species, or with a slight increase
in cross section, et. al.
Sometimes glulam, steel or aluminum members are
specified under the assumption that you can't get natural
timber of certain long lengths. There are actually large trees
standing in the woods, you just have to find them and arrange
to get them. In the year 2000 I replaced two bottom chords on
the Warren, VT. Village Bridge with 12" x 12" x 60 ft.
spruce, acquired in northern Vermont and not even old
growth. In many regions of the east, south and Midwest there
are immense oak and yellow poplar waiting to be put into
bridges that were originally built of these species. These large
and long sticks can't reasonably be dried but can be graded
at some cost. Glulams, as well as SYP and Douglas Fir and
other timbers not indigenous to the bridges of the Northeast
all have aggressive marketing agencies that solve these
problems for the engineer. But why be a victim of advertising
and consumerism; in 99% of the cases bridges can be
restored using the local species in which they were built.
John Weaver, VT
Regarding historic covered bridge structures: I think
that there are no hard and fast rules for glulam member use.
I have always recommended its use rather sparingly and then
only when its incorporation in the structure would allow the
retention of other historic covered bridge members which
would have to be replaced otherwise due to condition and
bridge loading. Also, I think visibility of the new glulam
should be kept to a minimum. Further, the glulam members
so incorporated could be removed and replaced in the future,
should better rehabilitation alternatives be developed.
Two specific cases I recommended for glulam
use were replacing the lower bottom chords of plank lattice
trusses, the Brattleboro Creamery CB, and providing a cofunctioning
structural beam load carrying system for a
covered bridge superstructure, the Randolph Gifford CB. In
the case of the Brattleboro CB, the use of continuous glulam
lower bottom chords
allowed retaining much more of the original fabric of
the lattice trusses. This bridge is heavily used by vehicle
traffic. In the case of the Gifford CB, glulam side beams
were recommended because the existing trusses are in such
poor condition that they cannot carry but a small portion of
the total bridge live and dead loads. Gifford CB presently has
steel side beams, but these members are not
structurally compatible with the timber trusses. The only
other location where I recommended glulam side beam
carrying members was for the Williamsville CB in Newfane.
However their use at this location was anticipated to be
temporary, pending another permanent alternative.
| The Vermont Covered Bridge Society reserves the
right to edit all submissions to the Bridger. Those that
are deemed derogatory in nature will not be printed.
The views expressed on these pages are not necessarily
those of the Vermont Covered Bridge Society.
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Vermont Covered Bridge Society Archives
by William Carroll, Archivist
To date, most of the materials from the six New
England states has been processed, and finding aids written.
The collections include several of postcards and
photographs, and for each state a ‘bridge files’ collection,
which includes clippings, personal notes, and miscellaneous
Archival processing includes sorting the materials
into specific collections, arranging them by county and then
by bridge, using the World Guide numbers, and writing an
inventory list which identifies and describes each item.
Each item is preserved by housing it in archival
quality enclosures, either non-acidic file folders for clippings
and papers, or in chemically inert print protectors for
photographs and postcards. So far 15 collections have been
fully processed, and two more are being processed. Some will
be available for viewing at the Spring meeting.
Some of the more interesting items turned up so far
include a pre-1907 postcard, many photographs and postcards
of bridges no longer in existence, a manuscript description
and history of the Cornish-
Windsor Bridge, written in the 1930s, and many more items.
A request to anyone who might be saving clippings
or taking photographs to send along, please
identify the newspaper or magazine and the date of
publication, and please identify any photographs and write
the month/year the picture was taken. And if you write on the
backs of photos or clippings, always, always, ALWAYS use
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Membership Chairman, Sue Richardson
Going through the membership list of VCBS, there
are several members who live in close proximity to
Waterville, Vermont where our spring meeting on April
25,2009 will be held. I have contacted these VCBS members
and suggested that they invite their friends and neighbors to
An invitation has also been extended to the members
of the historical societies in the area as well as to members of
the select boards of the towns of Waterville, Hyde Park,
Morristown, Cambridge, Belvedere, Johnson, and
The history and construction of the covered bridges
of Vermont are objects of interest and historical pride to the
communities located on the Lamoille River, therefore I feel
that we should extend an invitation to all who wish to attend
the presentation by Joe Nelson, VCBS vice president and
author of "Spanning Time, the Covered Bridges of Vermont".
And now, our Early Renewal Contest. Many thanks
to each of you who mailed your membership dues on time. As
in years past, the drawing was done by Ruth Nelson's first
grade reading group at the Jericho Elementary school. (The
little rascals have fun doing it.) The winners are: Robert
Moore, a copy of Spanning Time, Vermont's Covered
Bridges, by Joseph C. Nelson; Laurie Tolmasoff, a copy of
New England's Covered Bridges, by Ben and June Evans; and
Sean James, two years free membership to the VCBS.
Congratulations all, and thank you for your membership.
Upcoming Birthdays and Anniversaries
2 John Billie
3 Gordon O'Reilly
4 Sarah Ann Gallagher
8 Neil Daniels
16 Bruce Laumeister
12 Priscilla Farnham
21 Thomas & Lisette Keating
23 Steve Miyamoto
13 Gary Krick
22 Anthony Daniels
3 William Carroll
3 Tom Davis
3 Thomas Keating
4 Sarah Ann Gallagher
9 Erwin Eckson
10 Charles Lovastik
11 Hank & Sally Messing
11 Steve Wheaton
12 James Crouse
15 Andy Behrens
17 Ron Bechard
19 Mary Ann Waller
22 Irene Barna
22 Lisette Keating
27 June Gendron
28 Bill McKone
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By Ellen Everitz
Covered Bridge Adventures
I spent many Saturday afternoons driving around
photographing the covered bridges in Vermont. Two incidents
stand out in my mind.
One day I drove from Burlington to Rutland County
to photograph the bridges. I ended my trip at Kingsley Bridge
in East Clarendon. After driving through the bridge, which
was on a narrow dirt road, `I looked for a side road leading to
Route 7. The only ones were narrow and probably were
private farm roads. Not wanting to back into or out of a
narrow driveway or road, I continued on and ended up in
Another time I got the surprise of my life when I met
master bridge builder Milton Graton at a construction site.
He was very pleasant and took time to visit with me. We
talked about the middle bridge in Woodstock, which he built.
What a thrill!
Vermont's Covered Bridges
Vermont's covered bridges are beautiful pieces of
architecture. Vermont is fortunate in having so many of these
lovely structures still standing to be enjoyed for many years
The beauty is in the design, as well as in the location
in most cases. The various styles are what makes them so
Fortunately, there are people who recognize the need
to preserve these historic structures and see to it that they are
properly cared for. With the cooperation of the various
towns, government agencies, historic preservation and the
Vermont covered bridge society, this is being accomplished
here in Vermont.
After I joined NSPCB in the 1950's or '60's, I was
paid a visit by Elmer and Phyllis Jackson when they were in
the area. This was a most delightful visit. I also started
corresponding with Althea Boxell, with whom I exchanged
postcards. She also sent me photos she had taken in Vermont.
This continued until her death.
Barbara Brainerd and her husband and I belonged to
the Green Mountain Folklore Society, of which I’m a longtime
member. We met at a meeting and got into a
conversation, which resulted in my being invited to visit them
at their home. It was quite a memorable experience.
As you already know, I sometimes get caught up in
a thought and pass it on. Such is the case with my reflections
on covered bridges. I was thinking about how fortunate we
are to have such attractive bridges, except for a few. Some of
the covered bridges in some other states have no style at all.
Those with flat roofs are not attractive. I think about the roofs
caving in after a heavy snowstorm like those sweeping the
country this winter.
[Ellen is our new Publicity Committee chair. Our
congratulations go to her for her article about the VCBS and
covered bridges appearing on pages 5 and 6 in the
March/April edition of Vermont Magazine - Ed.]
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Willard Covered Bridge BR-22 gets tuned up
Hartland, VT, March 6, 2009 - Willard CB in Hartland will
receive a new roof, fire retardant, insecticide, stone wall re-
pointing, and new railings, starting in early May 09. Wright
Construction is the prime contractor. Construction cost is
[Our thanks to John Weaver for this information -ED Jr]
Williamsville Bridge for sale
Williamsville, VT, March 2009 - Various news media are
reporting that this tired old bridge will be replaced with a
more modern structure which will handle the heavy modern
traffic. The bridge was built around 1870 over the Rock River
in Williamsville. Interested parties need to meet state
requirements and should be prepared to spend a sizeable wad
of money on the dismantling and transportation of this old
friend. It will be replaced with a replica.
Repairs to Bumps Intervale Covered Bridge
Campton NH, February 10, 2009 - The Town of Campton
on the recommendation of the New Hampshire Department of
Transportation (NHDOT) recently closed the Bumps Intervale
Bridge in July due to severe deterioration of the substructure
(piers and abutments). The Town selected the design/build
team of DuBois & King, Inc. (D&K) Consulting Engineers,
Nashua, NH and 3G Construction Inc., Holderness, NH to
complete emergency repairs this past fall and reopen the
“This is a unique type of covered bridge for New
England” says D&K project manager Robert H. Durfee, PE.
“The main span consists of a queen post type truss but the
piers are constructed of timber and are located in the middle
of the river. Timber approach spans (uncovered) are
supported by the timber piers and by the stone abutments.
“The approach spans were removed and the covered
bridge span was jacked up in order to make repairs” says 3G
President Stan Graton. “The timber piers were completely
decayed and needed total replacement. The east abutment
stone work was reconstructed where a failure of the abutment
The first bridge at this site was built in 1877. The
bridge collapsed into the river in 1971 due to decay. Milton
Graton advised the Town at the time that the old bridge could
not be repaired and proposed a new covered bridge at this
"I have a special connection to this bridge", says Stan
Graton. "Milton Graton, my grandfather, built the new bridge
in 1972. Me and my cousin (Arnold Graton) helped move the
bridge onto the piers. I was only 10 years old at the time."
Repairs to the piers and abutments proceeded on
schedule and were completed for a bridge re-opening in late
December 2008. “The processes to design repairs, obtain
permits, and acquiring heavy timbers needed for repairs on
such short notice were a challenge” says Durfee and Graton.
“We always like to be challenged” said the design/build team.
Teens to be charged in Deming Park Bridge Fire
Terre Haute, IN, February 10, 2009 - Three teens will be
charged in juvenile court with burning the Deming Park
replica bridge in May, 2008. The three used homemade
napalm, getting the recipe from the internet.
Stone Ridge Bridge Site Examined For Replacement
Fredrickton, NB, February 13, 2009 - Stone Ridge and
Morehouse Corner residents have been pressuring the
government to replace the bridge lost to arson last October 10.
The 4th Engineer Support Regiment from the
Canadian Forces Base at Gagetown have been conferring
with the provincial Department of Transportation on a
Authorities, because of cost, had not planned on
replacing the destroyed bridge which connected the
communities of Stone Ridge and Morehouse Corner over the
Keswick River. A single-lane Bailey Bridge would cost up to
Delaware Besieged With Graffiti
New Castle County, DE, February 17, 2009 - Travelers of
I-95 from Pennsylvania into Delaware are treated to the sight
of graffiti on nearly all prominent spaces, on commercial
buildings, fences, overhead signs, and overpasses.
Graffiti taggers have attacked the Wooddale Covered
Bridge [WGN DE-02-03] in Greenville three times since it
reopened in December following a $3.4 million restoration,
and defaced the Ashland Covered Bridge WGN DE-02-03]on
Barley Mill Road in Yorklyn, rebuilt between December
2007 and May 2008. The taggers like to graffiti the new
siding of the restored bridges, areas traditionally not painted.
Citizen volunteers of the Citizen Anti-Graffiti
Brigade, organized in the fall of 2007, are helping DelDOT
clean up, using supplies donated by the state and paint
Last year, Delaware increased the penalties for painting
graffiti and possessing the tools used to draw it. The penalties
increase the offense from misdemeanor to felony if the
damage exceeds $1,500, a minimum fine of $500, restitution
for property damage and 200 hours of community service.
[Our thanks to Trish Kane for finding this story - Ed.]
County to restore Clarkson Covered Bridge
Cullman County, AL, February 18, 2009 - The Cullman
County Commission approved a proposal with Almon
Associates of Birmingham for an engineering study on the
bridge, also approving an extension of an agreement with the
state of Alabama until 2011 for a $400,000 grant to restore
the bridge. In all, the commission has $750,000 in grants for
the restoration as well as approximately $160,000 set aside
for matching funds.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the
Clarkson Covered Bridge was constructed in 1904. At 270
feet in length, the bridge crosses Crooked Creek in two spans
using a Town truss. It is the last of two remaining covered
bridge in Cullman County. The other was the 50-foot Lidy
Walker bridge [AL-22-12] that crossed Lidy's Lake outlet
using a Town truss. This bridge was replaced in the summer
of 2001. [Our thanks to Tom Keating for finding this
story - Ed.]
Bartonsville Bridge to Close for Repairs
Bartonsville, Vt., February 17, 2009 - The Bartonsville
Bridge will be closed next week for repairs of roof supports
portal sheathing, damage caused by an unknown truck
The bridge, will be closed from 8 am to 2 pm Feb. 24 though
26. The 158-foot Bartonsville Bridge was built in 1871 by
Sanford Granger to cross the Williams River using a Town
[Our thanks to Johnny Esau and Ray Hitchcock
finding this story - Ed.]
Wind Takes Roof Off Millmont Covered Bridge
Union County, PA, February 13, 2009 - A windstorm with
55 to 65 mile per hour gusts took the roof off Union Counties
Millmont Bridge in Hartley Township.
Also called the Red Bridge and Glen Iron Bridge, the
154-foot span was built in 1855 to cross Penns Creek using a
Burr Truss. The bridge had been closed to traffic since 1998
but was slated for renovations this coming spring.
[Our thanks to Tom Walczak, President of Theodore
Burr Covered Bridge Society of PA, Inc., Tom
Keating, and Bob & Trish Kane, for finding this story- Ed.]
Larwood Covered Bridge Damaged, Reward Offered
Albany, OR, January 27, 2009 - Twice damaged by was
thought to be a logging truck, Linn County offers a standing
reward of $500 for information leading to the
arrest and conviction of any bridge vandal.
Damage done by the two incidents made it necessary
to limit bridge traffic to one lane. Repairs could cost between
$1,500 and $2,000.
The 105-foot Larwood bridge was built in 1939 to
cross Crabtree Creek using a Howe Truss
Brattleboro's Creamery Bridge to Close
Brattleboro, Vt., January 27, 2009 - The Creamery Bridge
is slated to be closed to vehicular traffic this summer,
however the new bypassing span will not be ready for traffic
Bath, NH, Covered Bridge Renovation to be Funded
Washington, December 22, 2008 - New Hampshire's Bath
Village covered bridge is getting $2.3 million from the federal
government for renovation. The renovation will replace
the metal roof and all deteriorated members. In addition a
laminated timber arch will be installed to increase load
capacity. A fire protection system will be installed
Wooddale Covered Bridge Reconstruction Complete
Greenville, Del, December 17, 2008 - The Delaware
Department of Transportation has finished work on the
Wooddale Covered Bridge on Rolling Mill.
The bridge, which spans the Red Clay Creek on
Rolling Mill Road, was washed off its abutments by Tropical
Storm Henri in 2003 and deposited downstream.
Reconstruction of the bridge began on Sept. 4, 2007,
by Middletown contractor Mumford & Miller Concrete, Inc.,
which finished the project for $3.374 million.
The bridge was rebuilt using Bongossi woo, a superstrong
type of African timber that was also used to make
repairs on Ashland Covered Bridge.
Gudgeonville Bridge Replacement Years Away
Gudgeonville, PA, February 04. 2009 - A temporary bridge
will be placed on the site of the arsoned Gudgeonville
covered bridge at a cost of up to $150,000. The site of the
permanent bridge has not been determined.
Girard Township supervisors have selected a
Conneaut, Ohio, company to demolish the ruins of the
Gudgeonville covered bridge, which was heavily damaged by
arson in November. The company will also salvage main
timbers from the bridge deck and take them to the township
building on West Ridge Road.
The Gudgeonville bridge was arsoned November 8.
On December 17, Joshua M. Bell, 21, of Albion, and Jeffrey
A. Gleason, 23, of Conneautville, were charged by the State
police with setting the fire. Bell is in Erie County Prison on
charges related to the arson. Gleason is in the Crawford
County Correctional Facility on burglary and other charges
unrelated to the burning of the bridge. State police said the
pair doused the Gudgeonville Covered Bridge with gasoline
“for fun,” then watched as the historic structure went up in
Gilbertville Bridge Will be Reopened
Hardwick, Mass., December 10, 2008 - Voters at a special
town meeting held Monday, December 8, approved obtaining
temporary easements to clear the way for the state to put the
$3.3 million Gilbertville Covered Bridge restoration project
out to bid later this month. Work on the bridge is to begin this
Similar easements were recently approved in neighboring
Ware, New Hampshire. The 137-foot Gilbertville bridge was
built in 1886 to cross the Ware River using a Town truss. The
old span has been closed since 2002 when the State Highway
Department determined its capacity to be inadequate to
support traffic. It was last reconstructed in 1986 at a cost of
Since 1886, the quickest route between Hardwick,
Massachusetts and Ware, New Hampshire was by way of the
Gilbertville Covered Bridge. The bridge is owned jointly by
The easement approved at the Hardwick Town
Meeting allows machinery and other equipment to be placed
on private property during the repairs, the last hurdle in a long
approval process. Voters in Ware passed a similar easement
in November. The $3.3 million renovation can begin. Federal
funds will cover 80 percent of the cost, with the state
providing the balance. Bids for the work will be sought by
The renovation will include steel beams under the
floor system, curbing in the roadway to protect the trusses and
allow for pedestrians on each side. The bridge will treated
with fire suppression chemicals and a fire detection system.
[Thank you Johnny and Joanne Esau for alerting us to the
Gilbertville bridge project - Ed.]
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Joe Nelson, P.O Box 267, Jericho, VT 05465-0267
This file posted March 22, 2009