INSIDE THIS ISSUE:
The Vermont History Expo at Tunbridge is soon coming up (and may be over by the time this is mailed out) It is our big chance every two years to tell the general public who we are and what we do. This will be the third time that I have participated, and hopefully we will continue to reach and influence more and more people every time. It also is an opportunity to attract new members, and sometimes even raise a few dollars.
Bill Carroll, President VCBS
While in Tunbridge for the History Expo, take some time to visit the town's five covered bridges.
Keep your calendars marked for the Vermont Historical Society Expo at Tunbridge, Saturday and Sunday, June 21 and 22. The Vermont Covered Bridge Society will have a booth there to celebrate the Artisans of the Covered Bridge with a picture show. All members are welcome to join our "sitters" in explaining the intricacies of the covered bridge to a curious public.
Check the Vermont Historical Societies web site: www.vermonthistory.org/expo for all of the activities. A visit to the historical Tunbridge Fairgrounds is always a treat.
The attendees of the Annual Spring Meeting thought that our Annual Fall Meeting should be held at Lyndon this year.
The VCBS has a history with Lyndon: our first "All Members Meeting" was held there on the Sanborn Bridge, hosted by the late Jim Fearon, member of the Lyndon Chamber of Commerce, and chair of the Chamber's Bridge Committee.Return to top
A volunteer-run organization like the Vermont Covered Bridge Society needs worker bees to fulfil its mission, i.e. Promoting the preservation of covered bridges. Please give serious consideration to our needs:
We are still hoping a member will step forward to take over the duties of the present editor of The Bridger newsletter. Because of the passing of David Wright, President of the National Society for the Preservation of Covered Bridges, William Caswell, Vice President of the NSPCB, has moved into the late president's chair. Bill has volunteered to continue as editor of The Bridger until a replacement is found.
The editor is called upon four times a year to receive articles and photos sent to him by the membership for the newsletter we all know so well. He edits these items and using Microsoft Word, assembles them into the newsletter using PDF format, then sends it on to me for printing and posting. What could be simpler, and you get your name up in print. If you are unfamiliar with Microsoft Word, training and the software will be given to you.
Please, someone out there, have mercy on Bill and let him move on. The location of the volunteer is not a concern; the publishing process from start to finish is all done electronically. In fact, one of our past editors resides in California.
Steve Miyamoto, VCBS website editor and designer of the "Branding Project", has taken the suggestions he received at the Annual Spring Meeting and is implementing them, i.e. two labels to a bridge, plastic lamination, and positive attachment of the labels to the bridge.
For Steve's report on the progress and function of the project, see the spring meeting minutes.
I expect to be consulting with our Bridgewatch coordinator, John Weaver, at the Expo about permission-to-post-letters to the bridge owners.
When the project is ready, our membership will be asked for volunteers to place the patches.
The Vermont Covered Bridge Society has set up a lending library available to all society members-in-good standing through media mail.
Librarian Warren Tripp has created a detailed book list complete with a description and critique of each book. Copies of the index are available by mail, or you may contact Joe Nelson for an electronic copy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A borrower can contact Warren Tripp who will send the book by Postal Service Media Mail. Books are returned the same way.
Send Warren the complete title of the book(s) you wish to borrow. He will respond with the mailing cost and mail the order when the fee is received. The borrower is then responsible to return the item(s) in a reasonable time, preferably not more than two months.
Contact Warren Tripp, P. O. Box 236, Groton, VT 05046, email@example.com, Phone (802) 584-3545.
New - The lending library has recently inherited some covered bridge books. They include: The Last of the Covered Bridge Builders by Milton Graton, The Building of Zehnder's Holz Brucke by Milton Graton, Vermont's Covered Bridge Road by Ed. A. Lewis, and many others.
The books were donated by Marybeth Perilli, descendant of Neal G. Templeton of The First Vermont Bank.
Mr. Templeton wrote a pamphlet, Vermont's Covered Bridges, published by the bank, describing 114 covered bridges (including some we list as Romantic Shelters) with a map and 10 photos.
Templeton's Covered bridge listing or one like it using Templeton's language, is used by DeLorme's The Vermont Atlas and Gazetteer.
Warren Tripp is cataloging these additions into the library and updating his listing for our borrowers.
This is an excellent time of the year to get out and visit covered bridge sites. Please note bridge and stream conditions, as well as those of the approach roadways. We are not aware of any covered bridge rehabilitation (construction) projects going on at this time. However, there are a number of projects being scoped and designed including: Brown Bridge in Shrewsbury (45-11-09), Warren Bridge (45-12-15), Big Eddy Bridge in Waitsfield (45-12-14), and Green River Bridge in Guilford (45-13-04).
Formerly Big Bridge in Cambridge (45-08-49x), this double-barreled single-span Burr truss bridge was built in 1845 on what is now VT 15 over the Lamoille River. In 1951 the bridge was given to Shelburne Museum, who dismantled it and reassembled it off Route 7 in Shelburne as the main entrance to the museum. It spans an artificial pond (Burr Pond) The main entrance to Shelburne Museum was moved around 1971 to allow for better parking and to relieve unnecessary strain on the bridge. The bridge today is used primarily by pedestrians and maintenance vehicles.
In our archives we have newspaper clippings relating to the donation of the bridge to the museum, and the dismantling and reassembly. Also we have prints and postcards of the bridge at its present location, as well as snapshots of the bridge at its original location in Cambridge.
This two-span Howe truss bridge crossed the Winooski River between Burlington and Colchester. It was built around 1860 and was lost around 1935. All we have in our archives about this bridge is an old newspaper print, undated, from the Burlington Free Press.
There are probably about 30 known lost bridges in Chittenden County, but this is the only one for which we have any information in our archives.
Known today as "Vermont's Recreational Crossroads," Waterbury provides fast access to an unlimited variety of diversions during all seasons of the year. It was in this part of Vermont that American skiing started at nearby Stowe in the 1930s. Today, within a fifteen-mile radius of Waterbury are four major ski areas, plus great hiking, mountain biking, swimming, canoeing, and fishing.
Far more than just outdoor pursuits, this little community possesses an interesting history, as well. Back in 1763, King George III of England granted a charter through Governor Benning Wentworth of New Hampshire for land in the Winooski River Valley. The subjects, mostly from Waterbury, Connecticut, received the charter and named the new township after their hometown. Then in 1783, James Marsh became the first permanent settler.
Waterbury's early industries included lumber, baskets, children's carriages, leather products, scythe handles, and agriculture. With the winding Winooski River flowing through town, bridges had to be constructed to get these locally made goods to market, plus people needed safe transportation to travel from point A to point B. That's where the covered bridges came in.
Just west of Waterbury village was the Winooski Street Bridge. Unfortunately, very little seems to be known about the history of this former covered span. According to the Waterbury Historical Society, it was located near a creamery and provided access to Duxbury across the river. Like so many other Vermont bridges, it was destroyed on November 3, 1927 in the flood that created havoc throughout the Green Mountain State.
The real photo card shown here gives us a good glimpse of the bridge. This was taken from the Duxbury side looking north into Waterbury, with the Worcester Range in the background. The Winooski Street Bridge was a single span Howe truss, with large diagonal portals and vertical siding. You'll also note that there's a large advertising sign pasted onto the bridge's weatherboarding. What better place to catch the attention of the person entering by buggy, auto, bicycle, or on foot? Since the river is quite wide at this location, the bridge must have been impressive to cross or observe from a nearby vantage point.
So, the next time you're in Waterbury, turn south in the center of town on Winooski Street and check out the location of this former covered bridge. It's only a short jaunt south of today's Route 2 and provides access to Duxbury's River Road. This unpaved route meanders along the south bank of the Winooski in true Vermont fashion. It's just the type of road we bridgers love!
Please join me in welcoming a new member to our group: Tim Andrews of Gilford, NH, who joined us at our Annual Spring meeting. A warm welcome to you! Tim is a director of the National Society for the Preservation of Covered Bridges, proprietor of Barns and Bridges of New Hampshire, and contractor for the effort to save the Sanborn Covered Bridge in Lyndonville.
Also, please refer to the Spring Meeting Minutes for the semi-annual Membership Committee report.
Happy Birthday and Anniversary to:
We have a number of clippings of covered bridge interests in Vermont, largely Sanborn Bridge and other recent or current projects. We actively collect covered bridge news from the entire state, so please save any clippings for us. Thank you.
Fifteenth Annual Spring Meeting
Saturday May 10, 2014
The Fifteenth Annual Spring meeting of the Vermont Covered Bridge Society was held in the historic Nickwackett Fire House Rutland, Vermont on Saturday, May 10, 2014.
Fourteen people were in attendance when Vice President, Joe Nelson called the meeting to order at 10:17 am.
Minutes of the Annual Fall meeting held in Montgomery, VT were not read as they are published in The Bridger newsletter.
Neil Daniels reports the following for the period January 01, 2013 thru December 31, 2013:
In his absence, Bill Carroll writes: "Please join me in welcoming a new member to our Society, who joined us since our last annual meeting: David Coburn of East Montpelier, Vermont. We have known Dave since our annual meeting held at the East Montpelier Historical Society and our celebration of the restoration of the Martin Covered Bridge. He has produced an outstanding report on the Coburn Covered Bridge viewable at www.vermontbridges.com/davidcoburn.htm
We have received news of the passing of Wilfred Thompson. Wilfred has been a long-time member of our Society providing the valuable service of watching out for our covered bridges in the southern counties of Vermont, and forming friendships with the owners and neighbors of the bridges.
I don't believe he missed a single meeting since he joined us back in the year 2001. He was always ready and willing to help make the meetings a success. He will be missed.
In lieu of flowers, the family requested that donations be made to the Vermont Covered Bridge Society.
The Membership Committee is in need of a volunteer to serve as Coordinator assisting the Membership Committee Chair. The volunteer needs not be a resident of Vermont to maintain the membership roster and to serve as contact for the membership. To sign up for this position contact Bill Carroll @ firstname.lastname@example.org".
It was suggested that the fall meeting be held at Lyndon, VT. This is tentative.
Because of the passing of David Wright, President of the National Society for the Preservation of Covered Bridges, William Caswell, Vice President of the NSPCB, has moved into the late president's chair. Bill will continue as the editor of The Bridger newsletter until a replacement is found.
So; WANTED: a newsletter editor trainee to take over the editorship of The Bridger, a key element in the Vermont Covered Bridge Society's mission to promote the preservation of covered bridges.
Steve Miyamoto, VCBS website editor, has designed and is completing the coding of what he has dubbed the "Branding Project". The code, residing in the VCBS website, VCBS Branding Project will respond to a patch in each Vermont Covered Bridge giving the story and vital statistics of that bridge, to the viewer using an iPhone or a laptop.
The VCBS still needs reporter/correspondents to bring covered bridge news to The Bridger with on-the-scene reports, photos and/or newspaper clippings. We find it embarrassing to be scooped in covered bridge news by organizations other than ourselves.
For more information or to sign up, please contact Joe Nelson.
Also wanted: Vermont Covered Bridge clippings from your local newspaper. Please send them to Joe at PO Box 267, Jericho, VT 05465 or to email@example.com. He will share them with our newsletter and with our Historical Committee.
Steve Miyamoto elaborated with further details on the "Branding Project" reported in the Communications report above:
Steve showed a print of cards to be posted in each bridge that have the coded web link or QR Code* from which a visitor can, using an iPhone, capture the image which will bring up a web page of that county with thumbnail photos of each of the covered bridges in that county. A tap on a thumbnail on the mobile screen will bring up information about and the location of that bridge.
Steve is currently working on the details of the distribution of the patches.
It was questioned that to post these patches in each bridge, should permission first be obtained from the owner of the bridge? That is one of the details outstanding.
But, it went on to also be questioned if permission had been granted for all of the other postings seen in bridges. It was also questioned if the information might be available in booklets so that it could be found other than in the bridge itself. No further discussion followed.
*(QR code is the trademark for a type of matrix barcode which is a machine-readable optical label that contains information about the item to which it is attached).
Vermont History Expo:
Vermont History Expo 2014 will be held June 21 and 22 in Tunbridge, VT. The VCBS will again host a booth and staffing is needed. A sign-up sheet circulated among those present for staffing commitments.
Warren Tripp owns a covered Bridge model which he offers to have displayed at the Expo.
Warren Tripp said that there are now 70+ books in the library - of Vermont and of other states. For lack of a headquarters, the library is located in Warren's basement. A listing of the books available from the library will be posted on the VCBS website.
A date for the next meeting was not set.
No further discussion, the meeting was adjourned at 11:15am.
The program which followed was by Tim Andrews owner of Barns and Bridges of New England who presented a very informative slide/talk on the status of the Sanborn Covered Bridge in Lyndon.
We give a thank you to the Rutland Historical Society for hosting us in their historic 1860 Nickwackett Fire House and to Tom Carpenter, one of our VCBS members, for being an especially welcoming host.
West Windsor, VT
by Jan Lewandoski
The Bowers Bridge is a 46 ft. bowstring truss covered Bridge crossing Mill Brook just to the west of Brownsville, in the Town of West Windsor, Vt. Joe Nelson dates the bridge as early 1900's and indeed there is a carving on the inside of the downstream chord with the name Howard Kittredge and the year 1903, possibly the builder and date.
In August of 2011, flood waters from Tropical Storm Irene lifted the bridge from its abutments and carried it several hundred yards downstream. One abutment was also destroyed. I examined the bridge in the Fall of 2011 where it had run aground and saw that its much repaired cover was largely destroyed but the truss itself, while not damaged much by the flood, should be looked at carefully, particularly where the bottom chords and arches met the abutments and road.
The Bowers Bridge and its smaller but identically built neighbor in Town, the Best Bridge, is a bowstring truss (Joe Nelson dates the Best at 1890 with A.W. Swallows as the builder). A bowstring truss is a sort of tied arch and frequently the terms are used interchangeably. A bowstring truss usually has more "geometry", i.e. more truss work attaching the arch to the bottom chord, than does a tied arch, that may just suspend the chord between points of tension connection near the ends.
The bottom chord of Bowers was composed of 5 lamina of 2x10 spruce plank, 12 to 16 ft. long, standing on edge. The lamina were joined by numerous 3/4 inch bolts and both 1 inch and 1 1/2 inch diameter wooden pins. There were no shear blocks, splices or other tension connections within the lamina. The arch was composed of 5 lamina of 2 x 10 plank laid flat, bent to the curve, and held together by nails, 3/4 inch bolts, and the 3/4 inch rods with their washers and wooden shoes that joined it to the bottom chord. There were two categories of 3/4 inch rod: those that were perpendicular to the bottom chord, suspending it, and those that were perpendicular to the arch, producing a sort of truss action by moving loads in the direction of the abutments. The arch dapped into the bottom chord in a sawtooth fashion about 2 ft. from each end of the bridge. This crucial connection was reinforced with a 3 inch x 3 ft. Ustrap that captured the end of the arch and then bolted to the bottom chord. At its mid point, the arch was less than 8 ft. above the bottom of the bottom chord, limiting the depth and thus the carrying capacity of this truss.
The trusses came to rest upon 12" x 12" treated yellow pine bed timbers of recent origin. The floor joists, also treated SYP, sat atop the bottom chord, 2 ft. o.c. The flooring was 3 layers of 2 inch spruce and hemlock, laid flat and nailed.
The first post-Irene restoration of the bridge was done in 2012, when the bridge had been carried back to the site but not yet placed on the new abutments over the river. A very good timber framer rebuilt the covering structure entirely, noting that there was very little left of the original cover frame, and that the remains of a previous restoration of the frame were weak and largely destroyed. The new cover was close in form to the original with 6 x 6 posts, plate, tie beams and sills sitting on the joist ends, 4 x 4 braces, and a larger 6 x 8 post at midspan to provide more tension capacity for an overhead tie beam at that point. Rather than having this 6 x 8 come farther into the bridge it was expressed and cased to the outside, both in the original and in the reproduction. The cover has no mechanical connection to the arch other than a couple of bolts designed to steady it during construction. Unfortunately no repairs were made to the truss during this project and the bridge was put back on the river and into service.
At this time I believe a misunderstanding occurred in the minds of the users of this bridge. In most covered bridges, the side wall of the cover is the truss, so if the sidewall is completely rebuilt, it can be assumed the truss has been repaired or renewed. At Bowers, the sidewall has no connection to the truss, and the bowstring truss was left no stronger than before and with all the problems it ever had, including short repairs at the ends, a bottom chord shear failure at one downstream end, and rotted arch lamina and bottom chord at the other downstream end. The timber framer who built the new cover phoned me in late 2012 asking me to look at the bridge believing some heavy vehicle had broken the downstream truss, because his new frame appeared kinked.
According to persons living nearby, vehicles weighing between 60,000 and 73,000 pounds had begun using this relatively weak bridge.
In doing so they had exacerbated the existing shear failure and cracked previously undamaged bottom chord lamina near midspan. The Town became involved, closed the bridge, and asked me to fix it.
I go to great lengths to keep existing structure intact and in fact I sometimes describe my occupation as being "hired to fight with engineers". However, since no one has come up with a good method of keeping overweight vehicles out of covered bridges, and since this one has a large opening, a height of truss about 1/2 of what is typical in the state, and had failed even where it wasn't rotten, I felt I should strengthen it while it was easy to do, but do so within the same structural system.
We removed the bridge from the river with Miller Construction's 120 ton crane. The bottom chords, which were 5 lamina of 2 x 10, I replaced entirely with 3 lamina of 4 x 12 inch timber in long pieces, many of them 22 to 25 ft. sticks. The 24 ft. long middle lamina at midspan was made from select structural Southern Yellow Pine, an idea I picked up from the original builders of the Fisher Covered RR Bridge in Wolcott, Vt. The rest was eastern spruce. We bent an additional lamina of 2 x 10 spruce to the top side of the arch, as well as laying in different lengths of 5 other rotted lamina, and replaced all the rods and bolts and most of the wooden blocks. We reused many of the old ogee washers but the old rods and bolts were rusted to the point of section loss, as well as too short for my increased truss height. The original U-straps at the arch to chord connection were reused, we just welded more height to their heel to accept the bearing of more arch lamina. The new bottom chords were bolted with (40) 1 1/4 inch bolts and (40) 1 inch diameter wooden pins.
In early March of 2014 we placed this bridge again on its abutments and the Town opened it to traffic. As with many of our bridges, it is still possible to overload this one, but it now has more ability to resist.
Spanning Time: Vermont's Covered Bridges by Joseph C. Nelson
Spanning Time: Vermont's Covered Bridges features 102 color photographs of Vermont's covered bridges in fifteen chapters, each a guided tour. The tours are complete with maps, commentary on the uniqueness of each bridge, and historic highlights about the towns and villages in which the bridges stand.
An appendix provides: A Summary of Vermont's Covered Bridges, listing information on each; A Covered Bridge Glossary, describing the details of a covered bridge; A Bridge Truss section, explaining how trusses work with drawings of the trusses used in Vermont; The Bridge Builders, providing thumbnail biographies of people who designed and built the bridges; A Covered Bridge Reading List, for bridge and history buffs; A detailed Index. Spanning Time: Vermont's Covered Bridges: 7" x 10", 288 pages. Published by New England Press at P.O. Box 575, Shelburne, VT 05482. Spanning Time is available directly from the author for $39.00, free shipping. (Vermont residents add 6% sales tax)
World Guide to Covered Bridges - 2009 Edition
New York State Covered Bridge Driving Tour Now Available! - Would you like to see all of New York State's Covered Bridges at your leisure in the comfort of your own vehicle? Well now you can! The New York State Covered Bridge Driving Tour is a spiral bound, full color tour which includes turn by turn directions and color photographs of each of New York's authentic and historic covered bridges. Included are the statistics on each bridge and an interesting history of the bridge and the surrounding town, and old postcards of how the bridges looked during an earlier time.
To obtain a copy of the tour, contact:Bob and Trish Kane
167 Williams Rd.
Sherburne, NY 13460
Covered Bridges of New England - DVD
Connecticut and Rhode Island Covered Bridges
To order your signed copy, send $25.00 to:Bill Caswell
535 Second NH Turnpike
Hillsboro, NH 03244.
Vermont Magazine Covered Bridge Notecard Sets
Covered Bridges of Vermont Print - The Covered Bridges of Vermont features 19 photographs of covered bridges taken throughout the state by photographer, and VCBS member, Ray Arsenault. The print is beautifully printed on professional high quality 100lb paper, and measures 18" x 26.5". Order now at: www.coveredbridgesofvermont.com.
I love so many great things about Vermont. I was in my twenties on leaving, but I have spent many summers there visiting family.
I want to share this poem that I wrote some time ago. Vermont is such a beautiful place.Merrilyn Towne, San Diego, CA
By Merrilyn Towne
Maple Trees in sugar orchards
Sunlit meadows filled with strawberries
Lilacs by the armful, every hue
Narrow country roads
Ponds of shimmering water
Silver birches, both white and yellow
Blackberries and Raspberries in wild patches
Church spires, pointing upward
Holiday gatherings at Grandparent's farm
Church camp in summer, picnics by the wayside
Christmas caroling in winter
Choir practice on Saturday nights
School programs, special times
Good books, especially The Book
Snowy winter sports
Summer camps, meeting old friends, making new
Happy events throughout the years
Blessings that have brought us to this special place.
Lebanon, CT. - Wilfred Earl "Tom" Thompson, 84, died Sunday, March 30, 2014.
He was born to the late Carl and Mildred Thompson, September 21, 1929, in Ledyard. Wilfred graduated from Robert E. Fitch High School in 1947 and joined the U. S. Navy in 1948. He later became a land surveyor for the state's Department of Transportation. He married Dorothy Thomas in 1952 and they lived in Norwich.
Wilfred retired in 1980 and went into the land surveying business with his friend and former colleague, the late Norman Angel. He later worked in the Millstone Nuclear Power Plant and for the URS Engineering Corporation.
Wilfred was a former member of the Gideon's International and was an active member of several Baptist churches and historical societies throughout the northeast. He was known for his wit and humor and enjoyed the fellowship of friends and family. He was an avid outdoorsman, hiking, bird watching, covered bridges, trains and lighthouses were a few of his passions in life.
Wilfred is survived by three children, Byron Thompson of Norwich, Robert Thompson of North Haven and Catherine Candelaria and her husband Anthony of Stafford Springs. He is also survived by five grandchildren, Anguli Palumbo and her husband, Gino, Robert Candelaria and his wife, Anne, Janele Candelaria and her partner, Kyle Mathew and Zachariah Candelaria, along with four great-grand children, Jackson, Samantha, Alexis and Liam.
In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that donations be made to the Franklin Historical Society or the Vermont Covered Bridge Society.