Old Covered Bridge - Upper Sheffield Covered Bridge, Sheffield Massachusetts

Date added: March 06, 2024 Categories: Massachusetts Covered Bridges Town Lattice Truss
Looking north towards the southern elevation (1978)

The Old Covered Bridge of Sheffield is the oldest extant covered bridge in Massachusetts and is one of the earliest examples of a Town Lattice Truss bridge.

Ithiel Town, a New Haven architect, received his first patent for his lattice truss bridge design in 1820. The principal feature of the design was its ability to span great distances with its relatively simple engineering. In 1835 he modified his design with the addition of secondary chords for greater stability. This bridge was built between April 13th, 1837 when Sheffield Selectmen advertised for its construction, and April 2nd, 1938 when the bridge was accepted at a town meeting.

The bridge has been closed to vehicular traffic since 1970.

Bridge Description

The Old Covered Bridge of Sheffield spans the Housatonic River in the Plains region of Sheffield. The surrounding area is predominantly rural; the immediate area is the floodplain of the river. The bridge, in 19th-century fashion, is angled, and runs southwest to northeast across the river.

It is approached on either side by Covered Bridge Lane which runs approximately east to west. The easterly approach is from Boardman Street and is twenty-six hundred feet long. The six-hundred-foot-long westerly approach begins at Main Street (U.S. 7). The bridge is ninety-three feet long with an outside width of fifteen feet, eleven inches. The interior width is eleven feet, eleven inches.

The bridge has a shallow slope ridge roof with gables facing east and west. The most arresting feature of the bridge is its structure. The bridge employs Town lattice trusses with secondary chords. The top and bottom chords are six inches by fourteen inches with four one and three-quarter inch trunnels to stabilize the lattice ends. Lattice members are three inches by ten inches and the secondary chords are six inches by ten inches. Timbers are principally hemlock; trunnels are oak, and the flooring is oak and elm.

Exterior sheathing is vertical board with board and batten on the gable ends. There are single window openings near the apex. of each gable. The roof is covered with asphalt shingles. Bollard-like posts have been placed at the entrance to discourage vehicular traffic.

The bridge sits on granite piers that have been seriously undermined by periodic flooding.

Old Covered Bridge - Upper Sheffield Covered Bridge, Sheffield Massachusetts Looking east towards the bridge (1978)
Looking east towards the bridge (1978)

Old Covered Bridge - Upper Sheffield Covered Bridge, Sheffield Massachusetts Interior showing lattice (1978)
Interior showing lattice (1978)

Old Covered Bridge - Upper Sheffield Covered Bridge, Sheffield Massachusetts Looking north towards the southern elevation (1978)
Looking north towards the southern elevation (1978)

Old Covered Bridge - Upper Sheffield Covered Bridge, Sheffield Massachusetts Looking west towards the east elevation (1978)
Looking west towards the east elevation (1978)

Old Covered Bridge - Upper Sheffield Covered Bridge, Sheffield Massachusetts Looking south towards the north elevation (1978)
Looking south towards the north elevation (1978)