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The Covered Bridges of Coos County
 

The bridges of Coos County are a source of community pride, spanning not only rivers and streams, but well over a century of history.

 

Spring is a nice time to explore the covered bridges, for this is a quiet season, lending itself well to standing in the middle of the bridge and contemplating the sense of history and mesmerizing flow of water beneath you.

In the early years of covered bridges, they were called “spooning places,” where lovers found some privacy in their courtships. One romantic 1930s-era author suggests that if you stand in a covered bridge at midnight, “you will hear a murmuring like little kissing winds ...”

 

Your covered bridge tour will, with a couple of exceptions, follow the mighty Connecticut River along U.S. Route 3, from Lancaster clear up to Pittsburg, a distance of about 60 miles. Depending on your sense of adventure, you will want to leave at least half a day to see them all.

 

Lancaster Covered Bridge

 

LANCASTER - The 94-foot Mechanic Street Covered Bridge, right off Route 3 in downtown Lancaster, crosses Israel’s River. Built in 1862, it owes it longevity to citizens electing to prohibit driving across the bridge at a pace faster than a walk. This vibrant red bridge was rebuilt several years ago.
 
 
Mount Orne Covered Bridge

                                                                         

 

 

The 266-foot Mount Orne Covered Bridge, is located off Route 3, west on Route 135 (aka Elm Street), crosses the Connecticut River into Lunenburg, Vermont. First built around the 1860s, the bridge was taken out by a log jam in 1908. A ferry service operated until the bridge was rebuilt in 1911, for less than $7,000!  It is currently undergoing repairs.

 

                                                                        

                                                         Groveton Covered Bridge

 
GROVETON - Travel north from Lancaster on Route 3 to Northumberland, where the Groveton Covered Bridge welcomes visitors. Built in 1852 and spanning 126-feet across the Ammonoosuc River, the bridge is closed to traffic, but pedestrians can walk over it. A lovely picnic area is situated on the banks of the Ammonoosuc River for all to enjoy.
 
 
                                                           Stark Covered Bridge
 

STARK - Located off Route 3, about 7 miles east on Route 110, the Stark Covered Bridge is worth the drive. Even if you have never visited Stark, The 135-foot historic Stark Covered Bridge spans over the Upper Ammonoosuc River. The sight is classic New England, with the Union Church and the Stark Village Inn Bed & Breakfast alongside the bridge. This spectacular site has graced magazine covers, post cards, calendars and jigsaw puzzles.   Legend has it that when residents voted in the 1950s to replace the bridge with a steel one, the outcry from photographers, artists and covered bridge aficionados was such that plans changed and it was renovated, rather than torn down.
 
 
Columbia Covered Bridge
 
 
 

COLUMBIA - The 145-foot Columbia Covered Bridge was built in 1912 to replace the one destroyed by fire. The claim to fame for this bridge is that it is the northernmost covered bridge connecting New Hampshire with Vermont.

The Columbia Covered Bridge and the Mount Orne Bridge in Lancaster are the only highway bridges remaining in the state of New Hampshire which are supported by Howe trusses. Both bridges, which were completed in successive years (1911-12), are also the last covered bridges built on public highways during the historic period of covered bridge construction in New Hampshire and Vermont, which began about 1820.

The Howe truss, which was introduced about 1840 with its combination of wood and iron structural members, represents the transition from wood to iron bridges. The lower initial cost of the Howe structure compared with that of wholly iron or steel construction undoubtedly accounts for its extraordinarily late use at the two lightly traveled crossings served by the Columbia and Mount Orne bridges.

 Pittsburg-Clarksville Bridge
 

 

PITTSBURG - The northernmost, and largest, town in New Hampshire once had seven covered bridges! Now, only three remain.

Just south of Pittsburg, on Bacon Road, the 88-foot Pittsburg-Clarksville Bridge is the first bridge to cross the Connecticut River. Town records indicate that money was raised to build this bridge back in 1876, but it was closed to traffic in 1981.

Six miles north on Route 3, on Hill Road, the 60-foot Happy Corner Covered Bridge crosses Perry Stream. It was built in the mid-1800s, taking its name, according to legend, from the store where “a group of jovial men ... while away the hours with cards and fellowship.”  It is one of the oldest covered bridges in northern New Hampshire.

Finally, we come to the 50-foot River Road Covered Bridge, located 7 miles north of the village on Route 3, on the road to Lake Francis State Park. It also spans Perry Stream and was built in 1858. It is closed to traffic, but in the summer, pedestrians can walk across it and chat with volunteers who try to maintain it and take care of minor repairs.