This Bridge was destroyed by a flood in 1987


Low's Covered Bridge, Sangerville Maine
Date added: February 25, 2024 Categories: Maine Covered Bridges Long Truss

The Towns of Guilford and Sangerville are in the southwestern part of Piscataquis County. In the Guilford section, the surface of the land is generally uniformly covered with a soil of sandy loam. This area in the earliest of times of the white man's penetration was important for stands of timber, for which the cutting was first undertaken in 1800. The Guilford Township was one of those conveyed to Bowdoin College by Massachusetts and the sale of timber lands helped support that institution. The first settler was Robert Low, Jr., who moved in with his family in 1806. He was followed by a steady flow of farmers who cleared the land and in 1812 the quiet borough of "Lowstown" was organized into plantation No. 6, 7th Range. In 1816 the Massachusetts General Court was petitioned for its incorporation into the Town of Fluvanna, but the Court changed the name to Guilford. Over time the farming community grew and came to support several small industries until in 1881 a large brick woolen mill was completed which still exists. In 1880 the population was 881. Today, (2020 census) the population is 2173.

In the Sangerville section, the surface of the land is somewhat hilly but still suitable for cultivation. Phineas Ames was the first settler in 1802. Over time, a farming community: grew. The proprietor of this Township was Col. Calvin Sanger, who had purchased 3/4 of it as early as 1800. The Township was first called Amestown, but in 1814 it was incorporated as Sangerville. Local small industries developed and by 1880 the population was 1140. Today, (2020 census) the population is 1306.

As the two communities grew, it was found that a bridge was needed to span the Piscataquis River. In November of 1830, the Town of Guilford voted the sum of $600.00 to be used for labor and materials for the building of a bridge as its half of the expenses. Sangerville met the balance needed and the first of four bridges on this site was completed in 1830. The bridge had barely been completed before a freshet swelled the waters of the Piscataquis River and the ensuing flood carried it away in 1832. The bridge was rebuilt and survived intact until 1837 when it was seriously damaged by a Spring freshet. Repairs were made, but these amounted to the actual rebuilding of the bridge, which was completed in 1843. The third bridge held intact until the flood of 1856. At this time, the river carried the span away. The present bridge was built the following year, 1857. Other bridges have been built as needs and new locations demanded. Nearly all the farms and homes that the Low's Bridge was built and rebuilt to serve have now reverted back to nature.

On April 1st, 1987, flood water swept the bridge downstream, destroying it.

Bridge Description

This covered bridge spanned the Piscataquis River 4½ miles west of the village of Dover-Foxcroft and 1 mile east of the village of Guilford. The River at this point is the dividing line of the towns of Guilford on the north and Sangerville on the south. The River flows from west to east. This covered bridge was visible by automobile travelers on Maine route 6. The bridge was not on Route 6 as it served a side road that meets Route 6.

This wooden covered bridge rests on two granite block abutments which are 20' high. The span of the bridge is 125', the width is 22' and the height from the floor to the peak of the gable roof is about 20'. The overhead clearance is about 15'. The engineering concept employed in the span of this bridge is best described as a Long Truss system. This system was designed by Col. Stephen H. Long in the 1830's. The main feature of the Long Truss was a series of crossed braces between upright King posts. The Low's bridge was built on the Long principle but varies in that an extra timber has been added to double timber one of each of the cross's braces. These morticed cross braces provide the strength for the principle chord on the bottom of the span and again for the tie chord on the top of the span. The two spans were built in parallel 20' apart. The floor of 4" x 6" planks was laid on the top of narrow-spaced cross beams which were affixed on top of the bottom chords. The flooring runs lengthwise of the bridge. The gable roof obtains its basic support from the top chord of the Long Truss which provides the plate for the roof. The rafters tie into the plate and a roof supporting truss work with a ridge pole completes the support of the gable. The roof, boarded in, is then covered with cedar shakes. The sides of the bridge are boarded in. Boards run up and down. The ends of the gable roof are partially boarded in, down to the point of clearance and then down the sides about 2' wide. These end side boarded areas reduce the side-to-side clearance to about 15'. The end boards are then covered with clapboards. The bridge is not painted.

Low's Covered Bridge, Sangerville Maine