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Marshfield Bridge to Return to River
[WGN 45-12-06]

Martin Bridge. Photo by Joe Nelson, June 2, 2004
Martin Bridge {WGN 45-12-06]
Photo by Joe Nelson, April 1996
Martin Bridge. Photo by Joe Nelson, June 2, 2004
Moved by Renaud Construction Company, the bridge
stands near its abutments awaiting repairs
Photo by Joe Nelson, June 2, 2004
Martin Bridge. Photo by Joe Nelson, June 2, 2004
A view of the cut stone abutments.

Marshfield, Vt. March 26, 2009 - The Martin Bridge, standing in a field off U.S. Route 2 and adjacent to the Winooskki River for nearly five years, will be returned to its place over the river this summer.
      When the bridge is opened to the public, it will serve as an entrance for pedestrians to the Marshfield town park. The project manager is engineer Richard Phillips, a town resident.
      The Martin Bridge was built for William Martin in 1890 by Herman Townsend and his sons. The bridge utilizes a Queenpost truss and was built solely to provide access to Martin's agricultural lands on the far side of the Winooski River.
            The Martin Bridge is the only covered bridge remaining in Marshfield and is the only original covered "farm" bridge left in Vermont. A "farm" bridge was a bridge built solely for agricultural use. The Martin Bridge and surrounding land was acquired by the Town of Marshfield in November, 2003.
      Despite it's sporadic maintenance, overall the bridge is in good condition for its 119 years. However, due to extensive rotting at the ends of the bottom chords and shifting of the abutments, the bridge had tilted significantly and was in danger of complete collapse.
      In order to ensure its continued existence, on May 18, 2004, the Martin Bridge was lifted off its abutments and placed on temporary concrete supports in an adjacent field. With the bridge out of immediate peril, local volunteers shifted their attention to designing the necessary repairs and fundraising.
      Charles Thorndike, of New Hampton, N.H., gave the town of Marshfield the 120 acre property, valued at $87,200, in exchange for the $1,300 he owed in school taxes. The selectboard agreed to the deal.
      The Martin Bridge, also known as the Orton Bridge, is in very poor condition and probably would not have survived many more years without intervention. John Weaver, PE, Bridge-watch Coordinator for the Vermont Covered Bridge Society, after reading about the gift of the Martin Bridge to the town: "Marshfield Makes a Deal", in the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus, contacted the Marshfield selectboard and volunteered to evaluate the bridge at no cost.
      The World Guide to Covered Bridges, published by the National Society for the Preservation of Covered Bridges, lists the Martin Bridge as number 45-12-06, built in 1890, 45 feet long using the queen post truss, located one mile north of the main intersection in Plainfield, on US 2.
      *The Town of Marshfield was granted to the Stockbridge Indian Tribe by the General Assembly of Vermont in 1790. The Indians intended to settle here, but after white settlements were founded around their town, they sold it to Captain Isaac Marsh of Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The Indians moved on to the then unsettled forests of New York.
      William Martin was an early settler of Marshfield. He bought a farm about a mile north of Plainfield Village and resided there until 1840. His farm was reputed to be one of the finest on the headwaters of the Winooski River. The Ortons bought the old Martin place and gave it their name for a time.
      The Martin Bridge is believed to be the last surviving example of the work of Herman F. Townsend. The forty-five-foot queenpost truss structure stood high on abutments of cut granite and rubble stone laid dry. A cattle gate is hinged at one of the queenposts.
[*Short history adapted from Spanning Time: Vermont's Covered Bridges, by Joseph C. Nelson.]

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Joe Nelson, P.O Box 267, Jericho, VT 05465-0267
This file posted 03/27/2009