Sister Bridge

Those who read the last entry, and clicked on the the image at the bottom, (to expand to a larger version) perhaps noticed that the Tucker was closely paralleled by a second Covered Bridge. I thought I’d put up a brief entry on that construction, now one hundred and twelve years gone.

This was a Double Barreled Railroad Bridge built for the Cheshire Railroad by the Massachusetts Firm of Boody Stone & Company, and said to have been built under the direct supervision of Lucius Boomer, who would go onto move to the mid-west and form a bridge building partnership of some renown.

The bridges 1849 construction was challenged in a lawsuit all the way to the New Hampshire Supreme Court by Mr & Mrs Tucker, citing the inherited limitations of Colonel Hale’s charter and exclusive rights to build or keep a bridge within two miles in either direction, the chartered limits of his holding. This challenge was denied, in part because the Railroad bridge was intended for an altogether different purpose. Damages were assessed, but seemingly limited to compensation for confiscated land. Ironically the Railroad bridge was heavily traveled by pedestrians seeking to avoid the toll, so heavily the Railroad came to see it as a safety problem and a bit of a nuisance. And this unintended and unauthorized traffic, on this bridge and another nearby bridge built by the Sullivan Railroad, (which we will discuss in a future entry) quite clearly would have cut into the profitability of the Tucker Toll Bridge.

The bridge is often described as having been a Howe with arches, and Wm. Howe’s third Patent Truss (and the variation which would go onto be used with the greatest frequency, though typically without the arches) No. 4726 does include arches, and was patented in 1846, about the time the Cheshire was being planned. Though the following photograph clearly tells us it was a a Burr with Counter Braces.

These are seen as a possible variation in Mr. Burr’s Patent drawings, though were seldom used. However Counters would have been absolutely necessary in a Burr bridge designed to carry the heavy rolling loads of rail traffic, to buttress and counter the massive bending moments being imparted by the Braces (compression diagonals) to the Posts.

It is unclear as to whether this truss type confusion started because Boody Stone & Company were in time counted among Howe’s authorized agents, or perhaps it was mixed up with the nearby Sullivan. It is also not impossible that the Counter Braces and the X they formed, had something to do with this case of mistaken identity.

The Cheshire was removed in the Autumn of 1899 after the completion of its replacement, a two span stone arch.

A but brief window through time, now long closed, three bridges over Bellows Falls. Beyond The Tucker can be seen the bottom half of The Cheshire and the interface with its pier at midspan , beyond it, is its stone arch replacement, construction in process with arch falsework forms still in place.

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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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