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Covered Bridges

Town of Bath, New Hampshire

 

Bath has the distinction of having three covered bridges:  the Bath Bridge, the Bath-Haverhill Bridge, and the Swiftwater Bridge.  A fourth covered bridge, the Jackman Bridge over the Wild Ammonoosuc River, was destroyed by a flood in 1927.  The Bath Bridge, located in Bath Village, is the most widely photographed, usually from the west end so that the Bath Congregational Church and its imposing spire are included.  

 

BATH BRIDGE

Bath New Hampshire

bridge

Location:
West of U.S. Route 302 on West Bath Road in Bath Village over the Ammonoosuc River.
Style of Bridge:
Burr truss with supplemental arches
Year of Construction:
1832
Original Cost:
Approximately $2,900
Structural Characteristics:
The bridge is 374'6" long and is made up of spans of 117'6", 66'6", 62'6", and 80'0". It has an overall width of 24'6", a roadway width of 20'6", and has a maximum vertical clearance of 11'9". It also features an enclosed sidewalk. The bridge is posted as a one lane bridge for three tons, passenger cars only.
New Hampshire Number:
28

 

bridge             bridge

 

Historical Remarks:
The current structure is the fifth bridge to stand on this site. The first was constructed in 1794 at a cost of $366.66. That bridge was demolished by a flood and replaced in 1806 at a cost of $1,000. The second and third bridges were also destroyed by floods but immediately replaced in 1820 and again in 1824. The fourth bridge was destroyed by fire in late 1830. Rebuilding efforts began in March 1831 when $1,400 was allotted to cover the construction of two stone abutments and piers along with the purchase of other materials. In March 1832, an additional $1,500 was allotted to complete the construction. It appears that the fifth bridge was completed by early 1832. When it was first built, the bridge had hewn arches. New overlapping arches were added when the bridge was raised over the railroad in 1920. At one time, there was a sign posted at the bridge which prohibited riding horses across the bridge at a trot. It was believed that the impact of trotting horses could cause the structure to fall apart. The Bath Bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

BATH-HAVERHILL BRIDGE
Bath and Haverhill, New Hampshire

bridge

Location:
One-quarter mile north of U.S. Route 302 in Woodsville Village on N.H. Route 135 over the Ammonoosuc River.
Style of Bridge:
Town lattice truss with arches (two pan) - salt box type
Year of Construction:
1829
Original Cost:
Approximately $2,400 equally divided between the two towns.
Structural Characteristics:
The bridge is 256'3" long and has two spans of 104'0"; and 120'9". It has an overall width of 26'8", a roadway width of 14'2", and a maximum vertical clearance of 10'11". There is a sidewalk on the north side of the structure. The bridge is open for foot traffic only.
New Hampshire Number:
27

 

bridge             bridge

 

Historical Remarks:
According to New Hampshire Department of Transportation records, this is the oldest covered bridge in New Hampshire. It is the first and only bridge to be erected at this site. In March of 1827 the voters of Bath appointed a committee to hold discussions with the selectmen of Haverhill regarding the site of a bridge between the two towns. In September of 1828 the town of Bath set aside $300 to purchase stone and timber for a bridge. In March 1829, Ariel Miner was given the position of superintendent, but upon his request in June of that year he was released from this position and replaced by Moses Abbott and Leonard Walker. The bridge was completed later in the year. In 1973 it was repaired art a cost of $38,710. Ice damaged the structure in the winter 1980 and the bridge was repaired by the state in March of 1981 at a cost of $8,000. Someone unsuccessfully attempted to burn it on the night of September 11, 1983. The citizens of Bath and Haverhill mounted a fund drive to repair the bridge, which was rededicated in 2008 and opened to foot traffic.  The Bath-Haverhill Bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

SWIFTWATER BRIDGE
Bath, New Hampshire

bridge

Location:
North of N.H. Route 112 on Valley Road in Bath over the Wild Ammonoosuc River.
Style of Bridge:
Paddleford truss with added arches
Year of Construction:
1849
Original Cost:
Unknown
Structural Characteristics:
The bridge is 158'4" long with clear spans of 77'6" and 57'6". It has an overall width of 21'0", a roadway width of 14'6" and a maximum vertical clearance of 12'9". The bridge is posted for six tons.
New Hampshire Number:
29

 

bridge             bridge

 

Historical Remarks:
This bridge is the fourth to cross the Wild Ammonoosuc River at this site. The first was built in 1810. It was carried away in 1818 by a flood and replaced in the same year. Again, the bridge was destroyed by a flood in 1828. The third bridge was erected in 1829 and remained at the site until 1849. At that time it was dismantled and replaced by the current bridge. This bridge was rebuilt by the state in 1977 at a cost of $34,347. The rebuilding costs were shared by the state and town. This section of the river was used to float logs to the sawmill. Often log jams presented a hazard to the bridge. In one case, dynamite was used to break up a log jam and although the blast was successful, logs had to be removed from the roof of the bridge. The Swiftwater Bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Information taken from

New Hampshire Covered Bridges
Compiled and edited by
Richard G. Marshall
Chief System Planning
New Hampshire Department of Transportation
Color photographs by Arthur F. Rounds
1994

New Hampshire Covered Bridges