One of the attractions of the Monadnock Region is our covered bridges. There are six nearby covered bridges and a seventh not too far from the Bridges Inn. And the grand covered bridge of all, the Windsor-Cornish covered Bridge, is about an hour from the inn. Detailed information on these covered bridges can be found on the Bridges Inn’s website.
The covered bridges, a glimpse into yesteryear, are considered historical landmarks. And why are covered bridges covered? There are many theories, such as to protect livestock, travelers caught in a storm, and to protect the wood. But according to Busmante Engineering Staff, “wooden bridges with exposed superstructures are vulnerable to rot; covering and roofing the bridges protects the trusses from the weather, and so they last longer. Bridge engineers pointed out that uncovered wooden bridges have a 20-year lifespan, but if you covered a wooden bridge with a roof it could last upwards of 100 years.”
About 150 years ago, there were thousands of wooden covered bridges in the United States, with more than 4000 in Ohio and about 700 in Kentucky. But most were replaced when roads began to be made of concrete. Now in New Hampshire there are 58 old, new, and restored bridges in the state.
Nearby, we have six covered bridges, all of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and can be seen in an hour’s drive by following the covered bridge loop directions.
Shown above is our beloved Thompson Covered Bridge, located 100 yards from the front door of the Bridges Inn. Also known as the West Swanzey Bridge, the Thompson covered bridge is considered to be one of New Hampshire’s most beautiful covered bridges, painted red with white trim. Originally built in 1832, the bridge was presumably named for West Swanzey resident Denman Thompson (1833 – 1911), a playwright and theatre actor, who wrote the play, The Old Homestead, for which Thompson gained national recognition.
The Ashuelot Covered Bridge, is located south of West Swanzey in Winchester. It is considered by local historians to be one of New Hampshire’s most elaborate covered bridges, built in 1864 to transport wood across the Ashuelot River for use by the Ashuelot Railroad, which had a railroad station in the village of Ashuelot.
The Carlton Covered Bridge, is one of the oldest in New Hampshire, believed to have been built in 1789 and the current bridge was built in 1869.
The Coombs Covered Bridge, a “Town lattice” truss style bridge located just south of West Swanzey in Winchester, was named after its original builder and owner, Anthony Coombs. It once played an important role in both the social and commercial development of the area, has been rehabilitated, and is still in need of repairs.
The Cresson Covered Bridge (also known as Sawyer’s Crossing Bridge), located just west of Swanzey Center is a “Town lattice” truss style bridge has two spans, is 159’ long with a clear span of 61’6″, and has a center pier. Considered Swanzey’s most famous covered bridge, it is a favorite subject for artists and photographers.
The Slate Bridge, located in the small village of Westport (part of Swanzey township), was named after the Slate family who lived on a farm along the Ashuelot River north of the bridge. This bridge is believed to have been built around 1835, but because town records are missing, the exact year of construction is unknown. On March 8, 1993, the Slate Bridge was destroyed by arson. The current bridge was rebuilt in 2001 at a cost of $900,000 from funds raised by the Slate Covered Bridge Committee.
In addition to our six nearby covered bridges, there’s a seventh covered bridge in our region, the Hancock-Greenfield Covered Bridge, located about 40 minutes from the Bridges Inn, spanning the Contoocook River. This long truss bridge was originally built in 1852, but a disastrous flood damaged the bridge beyond repair. The current bridge was rebuilt in 1937.
And the grandest covered bridge of all is the Cornish–Windsor Covered Bridge crossing the Connecticut River from Cornish, New Hampshire to Windsor, Vermont. This bridge is a 157-year-old, two-span, Town lattice-truss bridge which is the longest wooden bridge in the United States and the longest two-span, covered bridge in the world (according to the American Society of Civil Engineers).
Wherever your New Hampshire travels might take you, you will enjoy seeing any or all of these charming covered bridges.