Covered Bridges of Vermont
Warren Covered Bridge
The covered bridges of Vermont are among its most cherished and symbolic historic resources. The Warren Covered Bridge is the only bridge to remain in the town of Warren. Combined with other surviving bridges in the area, the Warren bridge reflects the widespread construction of covered bridges on Vermont's public highways from around 1820 to 1904, one of the highlights in Vermont's transportation history. Covered bridges were roofed and enclosed to protect the wooden structural elements from the weather, which in Vermont can be quite harsh. Little more than 100 covered bridges remain in the State, the result of expanding highway systems, intensive commercial development, and physical neglect. Still, Vermont has the greatest concentration of covered bridges in the country, and in the recent past has become dedicated to their preservation. Vermont law now protects all covered bridges and none can be torn down without the permission of the Governor and the Board of Historic Sites.
The Warren Bridge is a short and simple structure. Built by Walter Bagley from 1879-80, it features a single span supported by queenpost trusses. To date, it has not required reinforcement devices, as have many other bridges. Unique features of this structure are the differing portal openings at either end of the bridge, the result of an overhanging gable roof on the west side of the bridge. The bridge will remain unaltered in the future unless, according to the stipulation of a town ordinance, two-thirds of the legal voters approve any proposed change. The Warren Covered Bridge is today an important symbol of the town.
Covered Bridges of Waitsfield
Two covered bridges remain in the Village of Waitsfield, the Great Eddy and the Pine Brook. Both reflect the widespread construction of covered bridges on Vermont's public highways from around 1820 to 1904, one of the highlights in Vermont's transportation history.
The Great Eddy Bridge, built in 1833, is a major historical and visual landmark of the Waitsfield Historic District. The oldest operating covered bridge in the State, the Great Eddy is also distinguished as the covered bridge with the longest clear span of any Burr truss bridge in Vermont. The Great Eddy is only surpassed in age by the Pulp Mill Covered Bridge in Middlebury. Burr truss construction was used on both these early bridges, although the Pulp Mill required reinforcements. The basic structure of the Great Eddy remains intact, but much of the flooring and braces were replaced in the 1970s. A pedestrian walkway, part of the original design that had been removed, was also rebuilt at that time. The bridge continues to provide a vital function in transporting citizens and visitors to Waitsfield over the Mad River.
The Pine Brook, the only other covered bridge to stand in Waitsfield, remains structurally unaltered and fully operational. Built in 1855, the strength and endurance of this bridge's original design are remarkable, as many other covered bridges throughout the State require reinforcing devices. Half the size of the Great Eddy, the Pine Brook is representative of the more abundant small and simply executed bridges built across Vermont's numerous smaller rivers and streams.
Both the Great Eddy and Pine Brook Covered Bridges are on public highways and accessible to the public. The Great Eddy is located on Bridge St. where it crosses the Mad River. The Pine Brook bridge is 1.2 miles north of Waitsfield Common where Town Rd. 3 crosses Pine Brook.
Covered Bridgesof Northfield
Five covered bridges remain in the Village of Northfield, the second highest concentration in the State.
Three of Northfield's covered bridges stand within a quarter mile of one another. The Upper Cox, Lower Cox, and Northfield Falls Covered Bridges are closely located on Cox Brook Road, as that road passes over the winding Cox Brook, a tributary of the Dog River. The first of these, the Northfield Falls bridge, was built in 1872 of Town lattice truss construction, a type widely used on many early timber bridges and later in building construction. Additionally, it is the longest bridge in Northfield by far, 137 feet long, more than twice as long as any of the others. The Upper and Lower Cox bridges were built soon after the Northfield Falls, both of queenpost truss construction. This group of bridges is further distinguished as the only place in Vermont where one covered bridge can be seen from the portal of another, as is possible from the Lower Cox and Northfield Fall bridges.
Slightly below the Cox Brook bridges stands the Slaughterhouse Bridge. This particular covered bridge, also of queenpost truss construction, is the only one in Northfield that has not been structurally altered. It carries only an occasional vehicle across the Dog River to the abandoned industrial site of a local slaughterhouse, after which it is named. The fifth Northfield bridge, the Stony Brook Covered Bridge, is representative of the end of the era of covered bridge construction in Vermont. Built in 1899, is was the last kingpost truss covered bridge built on a Vermont public highway.
The three covered bridges crossing Cox Brook are located on Cox Brook Rd., which leads west from the village of Northfield Falls. From there, the Slaughterhouse Covered Bridge is due south on Slaughterhouse Rd. just east of Rt. 12. The Stony Brook Covered Bridge is southwest of Northfield Center on the south fork of Stoney Brook Rd. east of Rt. 12A. All are accessible to the public.
Coburn Coverd Bridge
Coburn Covered Bridge is the only one to remain in East Montpelier. The Coburn Covered Bridge was built by Larned Coburn in the 1840s. It is 69 and a half feet long and of queenpost construction. The wood trusses and superstructure are intact and in excellent condition, although the original timber deck has been replaced with steel beams and concrete. The bridge spans the Winooski river, once called the Onion River. Mr. Coburn gave the bridge to the town in exchange for changing the path of the town road to pass by his house. The bridge, in relationship to other historic structures and the villagescape, helps to form the unique historic environment of East Montpelier.
Information provided by:
National Park Service