New Hampshire Covered Bridges

Scattered around the state, the covered bridges in New Hampshire allow you to experience history and enhance the scenic beauty found everywhere. Historically, bridges were covered to protect the wide floorboards from the elements. The floorboards were expensive to make, and were worth more than the timber used to cover them. Once, there were more than 10,000 throughout the United States. Today there are only 750 vigorously protected ones remaining. Of these, 54 are New Hampshire covered bridges that provide a wonderful counterpoint to driving tours, and are especially picturesque during the autumn foliage season. These are the first historic structures that were specifically protected by law.

Spanning the Ammonoosuc (an Abenaki word, meaning “small narrow fishing place”) River in the northwest of the state is the Bath-Haverill Bridge. This is one of the most important covered bridges in New Hampshire and was built in 1829. It’s the oldest continuously used bridge in the state, and its original building cost, shared between the two towns, was $2,400. Today it’s on the Register of National Historic Places.

The Cornish-Windsor Bridge is the longest in the country and the longest two-span covered bridge in the world, spanning the Connecticut River border between the towns of Cornish in New Hampshire and Windsor in Vermont. It was built in 1866 and is the only remaining of the three that originally crossed the river between the two states. This is also on the Register of National Historic Places. Of all the New Hampshire covered bridges you can enjoy, you’ll find that the Blow-Me-Down is the most whimsically named. It’s also located in the town of Cornish and was built in 1877. If you visit these two bridges in August, you’ll be able to enjoy one of the popular area events, the three-day Cornish Fair.

Perhaps the most photographed of the New Hampshire covered bridges is the Stark Bridge, located in the northeast of the state near the Maine border. One of the reasons for its popularity with photographers is the fact that it is picturesquely located adjacent to a lovely typical New England church. It was built in 1862. The town voted to replace it with a steel bridge in the 1950s, but the outcry from artisans and historians saved it.

In the Lakes Region at Plymouth is the Smith Bridge. Originally built in 1850, it was completely rebuilt in 2001 and is almost 150 feet long. This is one of the few New Hampshire covered bridges in this region. Another can be found in Sandwich, a little north of Meredith. This is the Durgin Bridge, and was built in 1869. The history of the state shows that this was one of the links on the Civil War era Underground Railroad that traveled north from Boston.

Because of the many rivers around the White Mountains, you will find other covered bridges in New Hampshire that provide access to ski resorts, the national forest, numerous state parks, and the Conway Scenic Railroad. There are two actually in the town of Conway. The Swift River Bridge was built in 1870 and the Saco River Bridge dates to 1890.

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