Thursday, June 21, 2012

Coombs Covered Bridge, Winchester, NH

The Coombs Covered Bridge crosses the Ashuelot River
I didn't even know this bridge existed. I'd planned my trip to New Hampshire to pass by a couple covered bridges in Massachusetts (the Eunice Williams Bridge in Greenfield and the Burkeville Covered Bridge in Conway), but hadn't even checked to see if I'd be passing any such bridges in New Hampshire. No worries, though -- NH wasn't going to let me stay ignorant. Signs on Route 10 called me out to bridges again and again. The Monadnock area has seven covered bridges -- the Coombs Bridge is #2.

This bridge was built in 1837 by Anthony Coombs Jr, whose father, Anthony Coombs, was a Massachusetts expatriate who settled in Winchester after the Revolutionary War. Coombs lived just past the bridge.

After deteriorating to uselessness, in 1964 the bridge was extensively repaired and in 1967 completely renovated, with a new tin roof, beams, and sidings. Nonetheless, the bridge still appears today much as it did in 1837. A hundred and fifty years ago, if you'd looked down the river in the month of May, this is what you'd have seen. Well, except that in the nineteenth century, most of New England was deforested and given over to farms, so it's likely there would have been a lot fewer trees. New England is more covered with forest now than it has been for hundreds of years. Urban sprawl, however, is cutting into the forests once more, and this is the kind of growth from which forests find it hard to recover.

Portal to the Coombs Covered Bridge
The split granite abutments for the bridge are fitted so closely that there is no need for mortar. The truss work is in the patented Town truss style, instead of the more common Howe truss. The designer, famed Connecticut architect Ithiel Town, licensed his patent for two dollars a foot; this 118 foot bridge would have cost $236 to license. Town's design was also used for the West Cornwall Covered Bridge and the Bull's Bridge, both in Connecticut.


  1. I helped replace framing on this bridge nine years ago. Heavy truck damage a number of ties and several sets of Upper Lateral Bracing, as well as the replacement of most of the siding & trim on the east Portal.

    Did you get over to see the Ashuelot just a few miles to the west?

    I'm yet to see West Cornwell & Bull's, but they're on my short list.

    I know I Will be stopping back by !

    1. Yeah, I am saving the other covered bridges for later, spacing them out, but the Ashuelot Bridge is probably the nicest covered bridge of the bunch. Nice design, separate walkway.

      You get to work on covered bridges? SO JEALOUS!!!! Also, definitely adding your bridge blog to my reader :) Thanks!