A Chain unbroken

The new Chester Bridge is still taking up much of my attention, today should mark an end for trim on the east Portal. It’s been especially fun having a little autonomy and being able to play a little with the chosen detailing and help form up what is the face of this new bridge.

The volunteers are still showing, new faces and those who have played into the process from the get-go.

Many new friends, many new faces, from both far and near…

One of those new faces from the cast of Characters who dropped in to lend a helping hand with the bridge lets me segue back into the running theme of New Hampshiremen who have played into the wooden bridge community here. And in a way that had somehow never crossed my mind. It had occurred to me that someone somewhere should be interviewing people in those places (namely BC and Oregon) where wooden bridge building carried on well into the 20th Century. That there still is a base of knowledge, which for some, is still part of living memory, and that some attempt to record those memories should be attempted before those too are lost. Somehow it had escaped me that such living memory, still potentially resided here.

Then into the fray walks Chuck Ross, a member of a multi-generational family of Railroad men, and longtime member of the Boston & Maine’s bridge maintenance crew, a Railroad which built covered spans longer than any other major Railroad, well into the second decade of the last century. The B&M then fastidiously maintained them right through to the end of their service.

It turns out Chuck and I know several of the same bridges, well, something approaching intimately. This like you can only deeply know a structure, in the spending of many hours, or in replacing parts placed by someone who knew the same construction equally well, but years before.

Chuck & one of the still prone trusses

Chuck donned an Amtrak hardhat and climbed down under the new Chester Pratt to help remove the falsework with us.

Somehow I have to find a way to break bread with the man, tell tall tales and a few stories in trade for the chain of knowledge he might be willing to share.


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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