The Mans Name is Nichols

Some attempt to shine light on the fact that the builder of The Blenheim Bridge is misidentified more often than not, has been a quiet crusade of mine for some while. I’m not entirely sure why, except that it is just plain wrong to call someone by a name not their own. It is innocent enough to add an a to the mans name in the mistaken belief, that an error is thereby being corrected. (this seems to be how this whole silly business began) But as it far more often happens, a long ago error is just repeated, and re-repeated, and then repeated yet again.

Even bronze plaques at Blenheim, and recent flood related mentions in newspapers, even in the mans towns of birth and residence misidentify him as Nicholas.

I’ve been intrigued by this bridgewright and his life’s work since the late Nineties when I was involved with the restoration of the Ashuelot Bridge. Though still unconfirmed, it is thought to be his work. The high level of workmanship, and details common to his other bridges, such as double Lateral Braces, strongly suggest to me that he was its builder. ( Sanford Granger builder of the Bartonsville, lived closer and also used double laterals, but tended to omit the third Chord ) It was that its builder “family’ed” the 3 X 11 Lattice plank in both the Chords and the Truss Webs, using the thicker plank just where time now tells us is most appropriate, which told me the Ashuelot’s Bridgewright was both practiced, and at building Town’s in particular. And a cut far above, simply capable.

I stopped by the mans grave a year ago or so on my way back from some distant work related travel, because it had occurred to me that his name etched in stone might bring it home.

The mans name is Nichols.

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

3 responses to “The Mans Name is Nichols

  • lettersfromheartscontent

    Hey there neighbor,

    I hope you are planning to be in the midst of the Bartonsville rebuild planning phase. Your insights will help.

    As to Nichols, could that be an apostrophe between the L and S? It very well could be NICHOL’S which would be short for Nicholas. Not enough room to carve it all? Some other reason for abbreviating? A thought.


  • lettersfromheartscontent

    Oh, I beg your pardon (with a blush of embarrassment), you are not a fan but a master builder.

    I am enjoying your posts. Wish I had seen the Blenheim. The photo of the splice is poignant. We have lost so much–far more than bridges. The loss of craftsmanship and knowhow is grievous. Are you documenting what you learn? I hope you are finding young blood to take the art forward.


    • Will Truax

      Hi, glad you stopped by.

      We are working to record and pass things on to a next generation.

      I’ll be part of the crew returning the Hall’s to service, stop by and say hey.

      And I trust that yours will be one of the many local voices of support for the rebuilding of The Bartonsville at tonight’s meeting.


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