There and Back

Recent treks around the State, have somehow dovetailed nicely with both this weblog, and recent treks around the Nation. I’ve found myself within the confines of Henniker New Hampshire in recent days. A town I’ve made mention of in prior entries as a hotbed of wooden bridge building, and home to a number of the States storied Bridgewrights, and to a now long forgotten Bridgewrighting yard.

The almost unknown ripples of good and enterprise in the bridge building world, found from seeds sown and knowledge shared here, in this one town, were and are widely cast.

Recent treks across some of the Nation bring me full circle back to “The only Henniker on Earth” – When this past month, as part of my participation and demonstrations at the Second National Covered Bridge Conference in Dayton Ohio. I, along with fellow attendees on the last day of the conference, took in a tour of the bridges of nearby Preble County, home of a collection of bridges of a Truss Type patented by Henniker native Horace Childs.

This tour and their bridges had me again ramp up our research on Mr. Childs – Though I’ve posted a number of entries on his work, I found this bit of town lore on the Childs brothers, and other town Bridgewrights as worthy of sharing.

Other bits are churning up, more to follow…

From Cogswell’s 1880 History of Henniker –



This town history published two years prior to the notice in the Engineering News and American Contract Journal citing the expiration of the Childs Patent, (see the archival entry cited in the caption four photos below) said to have inspired Sherman to make this his chosen truss type.

Built in 1887 by Everett Sherman - The Brubaker was rehabbed in 2005

Built in 1887 by Everett Sherman – The Brubaker was rehabbed in 2005

Oblique view of a Preble County Sherman variant Childs Truss

Oblique view of a Preble County variant Childs Truss

The merchant stamp of a Michigan Sawmill - Being hardwood country, Ohio imported the Bridgewright specified & desired for max minimization of Dead load Michigan White Pine for hundreds of its bridges

The merchant stamp of a Michigan Sawmill – Being hardwood country, Ohio imported the Bridgewright specified & Dead load desired Michigan White Pine for hundreds of its bridges

As described in July '11 archival Childs bio entry "Children of Childs"  - The only known existing timber constructions attributable to Horace are a Long Truss Bridge in neighboring Hopkinton - And this, the former Henniker Academy building - Now home to the Henniker Historical Society - No Childs Truss bridges exist here in New Hampshire, most such bridges were constructed for area Railroads and were long ago replaced

As described in July ’11 archival Childs bio entry “Children of Childs” – The only known existing timber constructions attributable to Horace are a Long Truss Bridge in neighboring Hopkinton, the hometown of Col. Long – And this, the former Henniker Academy building – Now home to the Henniker Historical Society – No Childs Truss bridges exist here in New Hampshire – Most such bridges were constructed for area Railroads and were sadly, long ago replaced

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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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