Rivers of Time

With the distractions of distant travel and the teaching of a scribe layout timber framing workshop aside. And in celebration of work in earnest beginning on the Saxtons River and the Hall Bridge, and the town of Rockingham officially opting to replicate the Bartonsville, I thought we should take a moment, to again glance back at the life of its Bridgewright, Sanford Granger.

The following information, and the mans portrait were found in – The History of the town of Rockingham Vermont, Including the Villages of Bellows Falls, Saxtons River, Cambridgeport and Bartonsville by Lyman Simpson Hayes, published in 1907.

In addition to his bridge building, sawmill and brick manufacturing endeavors, Sanford seems to have been heavily involved in the establishment, support for, and and activities of his church. He is also known to have been devoted to several social movements of the day. These still seen as those defining and shaping his time – Temperance and abolition.

His work towards abolition is said to have extended to support for Canadian border bound escaped slaves. And this beyond the, there is an indian in every woodshed explanation for every dead space cubby under every stairwell, having somehow been a secret hiding place for the Underground Railroad. Sanford’s son Albert often recalled how his father provided a spot to sleep and a morning meal to those fleeing north.

The temperance side of things could not have always been welcome among all those working for Mr. Granger. This was a time when skilled tradesman were still often paid in part, with a daily Rum allowance. Contractual documents related to bridge building sometimes specifying how many drams per day each framer was to receive…

Mr. Granger shares a personal experience with current residents of the area, and was himself no stranger to flood damage, and the loss of personal property to high water. His sawmill on the Saxtons River was lost to a freshet on March 25th 1826. This report from the Bellows Falls Intelligencer of 3 April 1826 curiously lists the value of his “joiners tools” lost to the flood. Clearly suggesting the Mill also served as his carpenters shop. Sixty five 1826 Dollars would have a current value approaching $1500, a staggering loss when measured in hand tooling. When coupled with the loss of the almost personal relationships one develops with favored hand tools, this loss might approach something akin to immeasurable.


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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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