Covered Bridge Infomation

Between 1827 and 1912, over 300 covered bridges were built throughout New Hampshire.  Today, only just over 50 of these historic structures remain,  four of them are in Swanzey.  Many have been lost to flood, neglect or fire. Covered bridges are a link to our past, when the mode of transportation was horse and oxen. These structures are a testament to the timber framers and stone masons who built them.

New Hampshire Covered Bridge #4 Slate Bridge
156

Location: East of N.H.Route 10 on Westport Village Road near Westport Village over the Ashuelot River in Swanzey
Style of Bridge: Town lattice truss
Length: 142'3"
Year of Construction: 1862, rebuilt in 2001 after a fire in 1993
Original Cost: $1,850.64
Structural Characteristics:
The bridge is 142'3" long with a clear span of 123'3". It has an overall width of 20'9" with a roadway width of 17'1" and a maximum vertical clearance of 11'6". It is reinforced with four iron turnbuckle rods. The bridge is posted for six tons.  
Historical Remarks:
The bridge name originates from the Slate family who lived on a farm along the river north of the bridge. It is the second bridge on this location, the first having been built around 1800. In 1842 William Wheelock was halfway across the earlier bridge with a span of four oxen when the bridge collapsed dropping both driver and animals into the river. Although no one was hurt, Wheelock engaged an attorney from Keene to seek damages from the town. The current bridge was damaged by a snow plow in 1987 and was repaired at a cost of $2,000. The Slate Bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. On March 8, 1993, the Slate Bridge was destroyed by fire. At the time of publication, the town of Swanzey had expressed the intention to replace the structure with a new covered bridge.
New Hampshire Covered Bridge #5 Thompson Bridge
Thompson spring

Location: East of N.H. Route 10 on Main Street over the Ashuelot River in West Swanzey. The bridge connects two built-up areas of the town.
Style of Bridge: town lattice truss
Length: 136'10"
Year of Construction: 1832
Original Cost: $523.27
Structural Characteristics:
The bridge is 136'10" long with clear spans of 64'0" and 63'6". It has an overall width of 25'6" with a roadway width of 16'7" and a maximum vertical clearance of 11'11". There is a sidewalk on the south side of the bridge. The bridge was posted for six tons until the fall of 1990 at which time it was closed to all traffic. 
Historical Remarks:
The bridge was constructed by Zadoc Taft and is also known as the Thompson Bridge. In 1973, when it was posted for a six ton load limit, school busses were allowed to cross the bridge, but only if empty. When a bus full of students came to the bridge, the students would get off the bus, walk across the bridge, and reboard the bus on the other side. In 1976, a new concrete and steel bridge was built nearby to carry heavy vehicles. This new bridge cost $376,914.61. The bridge has been closed to vehicular traffic since the fall of 1990 after a report by state inspectors indicated the bridge was unsafe. The Swanzey Historical Museum has a collection of historical material relating to all the covered bridges in town including a scale model of the West Swanzey Bridge. A highway committee was formed in 1990 to develop proposals for the rehabilitation of the town's covered bridges. The West Swanzey Bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

New Hampshire Covered Bridge #6 Cresson Bridge
CressonBridge
Location: One mile north of N.H. Route 32 near the site of an old Indian community on Sawyer's Crossing Road in Swanzey. It spans the Ashuelot River.
Style of Bridge: Town lattice truss
Length: 158'5"
Year of Construction: Built in 1859 to replace a bridge constructed prior to 1771.
Original Cost: 1771 - 53 pounds, six shillings.
Structural Characteristics:
The bridge is 158'5" long with clear span of 61'6" and 77'3". It has an overall width of 21'0" with a roadway width of 17'2" and a maximum vertical clearance of 12'0". It has fully sheathed sides. The structure is posted for three tons.   
Historical Remarks:
According to the History of Swanzey by Benjamin Read, this structure is also known by the name Cresson. The bridge was reconstructed in 1859 at a cost of $1,735.94. The event was celebrated with a big dance held right on the bridge. Lanterns were hung from the rafters, a four piece orchestra played, lunch was served at midnight, and the dance continued all night. In 1953 the bridge was used by Arthur Godfrey as a tie-in with a Chesterfield cigarette Christmas carton. In response, Governor Hugh Gregg flew to New York to present Mr. Godfrey with an honorary deed to the bridge making him an owner. The bridge was repaired in 1983 at a cost of $61,028.15 of which $16,446.22 was contributed by the town. The remainder came from the state. The Sawyer's Crossing Bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

New Hampshire Covered Bridge #7 Carlton Bridge
246
Location: East of N.H. Route 32 on Carlton Road, one-half mile south of Swanzey Village spanning the South Branch Ashuelot River in Swanzey.
Style of Bridge: Queenpost
Length: 67'3"
Year of Construction: Approximately 1789
Original Cost: 15 pounds
Structural Characteristics:
The bridge has an overall length of 67'3" with a clear span of 60'3". It has an overall width of 16'6" with a roadway width of 12'4" and a maximum vertical clearance of 11'7". It has fully sheathed sides. The structure is posted for three tons.     
Historical Remarks:
Town records indicate the original bridge at this site was constructed in 1789, however, the exact date has not been verified. The current bridge was built in 1869. According to local tradition, the bridge was built by local barn builders since the truss construction of the bridge is similar to that used in barns. When it was built, a wagon fully loaded with hay was used as a standard for the height and width of the opening. The bridge was closed in June 1974 to await town appropriations for repairs, rebuilding, or reconstruction. On Flag Day, June 14, 1975, as a part of the Swanzey Bicentennial Commission program, the Carlton Bridge was painted by residents of the town. The Carlton Bridge was the smallest of the four covered bridges to be painted by the townspeople and was completed in five hours time. The bridge is now in need of major repairs. In 1979, the New Hampshire Department of Transportation estimated that it would cost $487,000 to build a new covered bridge in its place. The Carlton Bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Covered Bridges of Cheshire County Brochure 




Stay

Updated with us

SIGN UP TO GET UPDATES FROM THE TOWN