West Swanzey Covered Bridge, Swanzey New Hampshire

Date added: April 08, 2024 Categories:
Portal (1974)

Among the picturesque covered bridges of New Hampshire, the West Swanzey Covered Bridge is one of the finest and an excellent illustration of the Town Truss design in one of its best Granite State applications. The crossed planks, forming a lattice-like web fastened together with wooden pins or trunnels, provided an efficient but structurally indeterminate construction design, which is especially important historically in such a well-proportioned example as the West Swanzey Covered Bridge. The bridge has the added value of illustrating a bridge construction within a busy village, a rare type today as all covered bridges face serious preservation challenges of an endangered species.

An important transportation link between two parts of West Swanzey village, this bridge is a vital part of the town's transportation system, serving as a connecting link for the village and greater township as well.

Bridge Description

Spanning the Ashuelot River in West Swanzey village, this double-span bridge with center pier is located on a surfaced town road just east of Winchester Street off NH Route 10.

Originally built in 1832 under the supervision of Zadoc Taft, master workman, for $523.27, this bridge occupies a central village site and, typical of bridges located in towns, was originally equipped with two sidewalks, of which only one remains. It probably retains much of its original appearance. A picturesque example of the popular Ithiel Town Truss construction, it has fine proportions and an especially attractive facade with balancing overhang roadway and pedestrian walkway arches. Partially open sides expose the web of heavy planks crisscrossed in a lattice-like web. The bridge has a length of 155' with stone abutments and a central pier. It has been quite carefully maintained; repairs costing $431.58 were made in 1859 and nearly $2,000 was spent on it in 1888. When it was discovered unsafe, it was closed briefly, and a $17,000 renovation was undertaken in 1973, which included a new floor, roof, and supporting beams. The bolts, replacing wooden trunnel pins and other supporting additions, give evidence of continued repair and maintenance of this important structure.

The site of this bridge in the proximity of a busy textile mill and near village stores, fire station, and school has put heavy demands upon it and, although limited to 6 tons, school busses and other heavy vehicles crossing the single-lane bridge are an increasing problem to its preservation. Fortunately, plans were made for another bridge nearby to take heavy traffic from daily use of the older one.

National Society for the Preservation of Covered Bridges World Guide to Covered Bridges number 29-03-04; New Hampshire Department of Public Works and Highways number 093/124; New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development number 5.

West Swanzey Covered Bridge, Swanzey  New Hampshire Portal (1974)
Portal (1974)

West Swanzey Covered Bridge, Swanzey  New Hampshire Interior view, showing Town Truss construction (1974)
Interior view, showing Town Truss construction (1974)