A Name Unknown and a Face to a Name

The Long journey winds down, though, in the way such quests often do, not with complete or even definite answers. But with something of a greater understanding, and with puzzle pieces found, which were yet to be recognized as missing.

As curiosity suggested I begin a search for an answer to what seemed like a good question, one which might have an answer which might be out there to find. And that it might be a knowable, the name of the Bridgewright that had helped the good Col. Long to know aspects of that which he was designing like only a seasoned bridge carpenter could. (A curious potential in and of itself, for most all of the carpentry work preservationists put eyes and hands on, those we follow, those whose work we come to intimately understand and emulate and even share as coworkers of sorts, almost always, their names are lost to us – More was put to paper with bridges. It is at times, possible to know by name, those whose work we touch, and who it is we are following.)

I began that search with a supposition, that that bridgewright might well be Stephen’s cousin, Horace Childs. This based on the seeming timing of the release of “Description” by a Concord NH publishing house in 1836, at the tail end of a brief three year re-residency in New Hampshire, and with the knowing provided by this earlier 1834 pamphlet announcing his brother Moses as his agent, and making mention that cousin Horace was the “architect” / builder of the pictured bridge. It seems highly probable that all three cousins had direct input in the construction of this span and visited the Haverhill site.

As it turns out the original version of “Description” was titled “Description of the Jackson Bridge, together with directions to builders of wooden or frame bridges” and was published by Sands & Nelson of Baltimore in 1830, this roughly coincident with the March patent date.

This suggests that the Colonel probably had direct interaction with the construction of the Jackson or one of the two other bridges built for this Railroad in two short years. Experience and information he went on to describe in “Description” This RR has often been misidentified as the Baltimore & Ohio, but as the ad included in my earlier entry suggests, this was in fact the Baltimore & Susquehanna, a short line less than a full forty six miles in length. A line soon to, time and again, be acquired by larger railroads. Its records, and the name of the bridgewright contracted to build its bridges seem to have been lost to time.

So, we may return to the Colonel…

But will for the coming entry turn our attention to cousin Horace and his works.

A man who turns up, and extends a wry glance back from the turning pages of time –

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About Will Truax

I'm a timberframer and preservation carpenter, and regularly work on Covered Bridge restoration projects. Bridgewrighting can be a tough row to hoe, for a myriad of reasons. From scheduling issues to differing opinions and philosophies on what is appropriate in methods and materials, to multiple jurisdictions still not sufficiently vetting bidders resumes - Which is to say, just because a company is on that state approved list and capable of building that seven figure overpass, this does not mean they are capable of restoring a wooden bridge... So, I have much to say about all this and more - And despite my tough row observation, I promise not to whine. View all posts by Will Truax

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