Covered Bridge Capital of New Hampshire


Bath New Hampshire Covered Bridge Capital

Tourist love the romance of covered bridges and the New England region has a ton of them.  There are 54 covered bridges to find and explore in New Hampshire alone and in a few areas you will find a cluster of them.  Bath, New Hampshire is one spot which has a number of beautiful covered bridges and in dramatic settings.

The main draw right in “downtown” Bath, a quaint little town in the White Mountains which features a cluster of New England white churches, a dramatic water fall, an old railroad bed converted into a multiple use trail for bikes, ATVs and snowmobiles, and the oldest country store in America.

The Brick Store is one of the stores to claim that it is the oldest in America. It has been in business since the early 1790s, and still boasts some of the old, slanted counters that allowed women in hoop skirts to get a closer look at the merchandise. If you visit, indulge in some of Nancy’s Homemade Fudge or enjoy meats and cheese from the Brick Store’s smokehouse.

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A short stroll around the corner from The Brick Store is the impressive Bath Covered Bridge which is the longest covered bridge that has both ends in the state of New Hampshire.

Bath Covered Bridge

This bridge has had a long history of being rebuilt and the current one is only a few years old after being damaged by Hurricane Irene.

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.

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Two other covered bridges are a short drive away from the Bath bridge. The Bath-Haverhill Bridge built in 1827 and considered the oldest standing covered bridge in America, and the smaller Swiftwater Bridge.

Swiftwater Covered Bridge

Its a quick drive from the Bath bridge to the Swiftwater covered bridge along the Wild Ammonoosuc River. The road to the bridge – Porter Rd off of R112 is marked by an old metal truss bridge on display on one side of the corner and a campground on the other. The ride along the Wild Ammonoosuc is beautiful and is full of gold flakes judging by the number of “Prospecting with permission only signs”. The bridge itself has a nice parking area on the far side of the bridge with a path leading down to the rivers edge. From here you can get a nice view of the cascading waterfall and bridge above.

North of N.H. Route 112 on Valley Road in Bath over the Wild Ammonoosuc River. 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.

 

Haverhill-Bath Covered Bridge

Located in downtown Woodsville, this one of the three in the area is probably the least photogenic but its the oldest.

The Haverhill-Bath Covered Bridge is a historic covered bridge over the Ammonoosuc River joining Bath and Woodsville, New Hampshire. Formerly used to carry New Hampshire Route 135, the bridge was idled in 1999. Restored in 2004, it is now open to foot traffic only. It is believed to be the oldest covered bridge in the state.

Now this area does indeed have a nice concentration of covered bridges but there is another area in the state that has an even longer covered bridge plus its has two lanes of traffic and you enter in one state and come out in another….

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To see more of my covered bridge photographs from around New England, Vermont and New Hampshire check out my covered bridge portfolio at: http://edward-fielding.pixels.com/collections/covered+bridges