Sunday, January 15, 2012

Comstock Covered Bridge, East Hampton-Colchester, CT

January, 2012
The Comstock Bridge, or the Comstock Covered Bridge or simply just "Covered Bridge" bridges the Salmon River and connects East Hampton and Colchester. It is one of Connecticut's three remaining covered bridges -- the other two being the Bulls Bridge in Kent and the Covered Bridge in West Cornwall.

Increasingly desperate measures were necessary to keep the bridge from falling into the river. A few years back, massive metal beams were bolted to the sides of the bridge, but that only delayed the inevitable. The state chose to rebuild the bridge, using as much of the wood from the original bridge as they could. Construction is nearly done and should be fully complete in February, 2012.

Ryan Blessing of the Norwich Bulletin writes:
The 90-foot bridge over the Salmon River and north of Route 16 was closed in March of 2009 so work could begin on the $1.1 million project, according to the state Department of Transportation. It is one of only three covered bridges remaining in Connecticut, the DOT said. “It’s a very unique and historical bridge,” DOT spokesman Kevin Nursick said. “There’s been a bridge at that spot since the 1700s.”
I first visited the Comstock Bridge at the beginning of October and was a little surprised (and a little disappointed) to find the bridge mostly taken apart.

October, 2011
I'd heard that Hurricane Irene had torn out some bridges and assumed (wrongly) that the Comstock Bridge had been one of her victims.

Turns out it was entirely intentional. I'd really wanted to visit the bridge; in fact I really wanted to ride my bike down to Colchester and cross that bridge.

No luck.

There's just not a lot of information about the bridge construction easily available online. I did some digging in the Connecticut Department of Transportaton's website, and finally had some answers. It was being rebuilt. Construction would be finished by the end of November, 2011.

(Oh, here's an article on nearby East Haddam's website about the reconstruction of the bridge).

November, 2011
I duly returned to the bridge in late November, hoping to take a walk over it, but it still wasn't done. There had been a lot of progress. The beam and truss frame was up and the roof was beginning to come together.

The foliage was beautiful. Next year, the finished bridge is going to be a perfect picture.

There are a lot of great places from which to photograph this bridge. Route 16 runs right past the bridge. Park in the parking lot just as you turn from Route 16 onto Comstock Bridge Road, then walk back up Route 16 to where it crosses the Salmon River, look upstream and take the shot (the first shot was taken from this point). If you walk up Comstock Bridge Road a little, you can hop over the guardrail and head upriver to get a great shot looking back at the bridge -- the third picture was done from here.

There's a trail used by fishermen on the Colchester side of the bridge that gives great views of the bridge (and beneath) for awhile before a bend in the river hides the bridge (second picture was from this vantage point).

The annual Salmon River 5.5 Mile Run starts and finishes at the Comstock Bridge. I might just have to run in it this year.

Steve of CTMuseamQuest.com seems to have dug up pretty much everything there is to know about the bridge as of 2007, before they started dismantling it. By the time I heard of the bridge, it was already being re-assembled. There's luck for you. I went down to Colchester lured by the pictures on Google Street View and was surprised to see just beams and part of a floor. I'd have been utterly shocked if it weren't there at all.


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