Those from among my longtime readership will recognize that my ofttimes mention of Maryland’s Gilpin’s Falls Bridge, go all the way back to a description of its system of un-nailed flooring, and how it came to be returned to this long neglected Burr in my maiden voyage entries. That first of frequent mentions having to do with the return of The Gilpin’s to its original fastener free flooring system, and the connection of that system to many early Bridgewrights, and Wooden Truss patent holder Col. Stephen Harriman Long who described it in his Set of Directions to Bridge Builders.
While recently back in the area involved in a non bridge related timberframe Preservation effort, I stopped back in at The Gilpin’s to check on how both the replacement timber, and the once common and now uniquely applied flooring, was seasoning in, in the three years which have now passed since the bridges celebrated and awarded restoration saw completion.
I was happy to see a second return of tradition and methodology to the Gilpin’s. One that like other aspects of followups in Bridgewrighting, ( See August ’12 entry – Less Than Hardwired for Hardware – for example of other similar seasoning driven followups ) and how a full understanding of the materials used, demand and require a return to the bridge for simple maintenance as timbers in these bridges, and their claddings and other wooden elements of finish and enclosure necessitate. To use the terminology of the day through the words of Col. Long – After seasoning and shrinkage of the Flooring, the “Binders” had been taken up, the un-nailed Flooring had been moved to remove the gaps left by seasoning, and every eight or ten feet along the bridges length – A new piece of Flooring had been added to cancel out the aggregate of those 3/16” gaps. A dozen or so pieces in total along the bridges length.
The full return of this system of Flooring, has with these added pieces of Flooring, now been returned to our Nations Covered Spans. On Sunday the 28th of the coming month, The National Society for the Preservation of Covered Bridges will hold one of its Summer meetings at The Gilpin’s. My longtime associate Tim Andrews, the fellow Bridgewright I subcontracted to on this restoration effort, will discuss challenges, victories and aspects of the effort both structural and logistic. As well as this now revived system of Flooring.
As it was, at least for this piece of Maryland history, is for the foreseeable future, as it will be…