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New Hampshire's Covered Bridges - A Compilation Of Facts, History and Locations Of Covered Bridges Throughout New Hampshire

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

Covered bridges are generally romanticized, but in fact, are a practical matter. A bridge built entirely out of wood, without any protective coating, may last 10 to 15 years. Builders discovered that if the bridge's underpinnings were protected with a roof, the bridge could stand for 70, or even 80 years. The state with the most covered bridges is Pennsylvania. The state with the most covered bridges per mile is Vermont.

Covered bridges represent a link with our past. They stand as monuments to builders who had the vision and the ability to design and construct engineering masterpieces of wood.The romanticist might see that covered bridges represent a more relaxed time, free from the stress of modern age.These structures evoke images of a slow horse and buggy ride to church on a quiet Sunday, a stolen kiss under the cover of the bridge, or the peacefulness of fishing from a seat on the edge of the bridge, line in the water yet indifferent as to whether or not a fish bites.

The historian might see in these spans the development of truss types still in use today, the original attempts to understand the strength of materials, and the analysis of stress on complex structures. Everyone can agree that these bridges were essential to progress by replacing dangerous ferry crossings, reducing the isolation of rural areas, increasing travel speed, and aiding commerce. Because of their obvious antiquity and their visual appeal, covered bridges have long been appreciated. New Hampshire's wooden bridges were highlighted in W. Edward White's 1942 booklet, Covered Bridges in New Hampshire, and in any subsequent articles and books. Because of such advocacy, covered bridges became the first type of historic structures specifically protected by state law in New Hampshire.

Click here to see the New Hampshire covered bridges.