Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Bissell Covered Bridge - Charlemont, Mass.


This is the Bissell Covered Bridge in Charlemont, western Massachusetts. If you look through the trusses you can just about see the small open bridge behind it. It almost looks like a symbol of the feud between past and present, but it’s really emblematic of the future, the kind of future we choose.

The Bissell Covered Bridge, this one, was built in 1951. There had been an earlier bridge here built in 1880, but was condemned in the 1940s. When the town chose to replace the bridge, they decided to replace it not with a modern open bridge, but with another covered bridge. The wood is Douglas fir from Oregon, and shingles are cedar.

This bridge was closed to vehicular traffic in 1995, and would have been replaced by the state with a modern open bridge, except Charlemont said no thank you in no uncertain terms. A stalemate lasted some 14 years while the state built that temporary bridge in the background, and the town continued to push for the renovation of the covered bridge, in the foreground. The bridge in the foreground won.

Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004, the one-span Bissell Covered Bridge is a variation of a Long Truss style, 92 feet in length. It was re-opened to vehicular traffic only about six months ago after a two-year restoration. (In responding to a comment on covered bridges opened only to foot traffic in this post on the Arthur A. Smith bridge, I mistakenly referred to the Bissell as being currently open only to foot traffic. I also mistakenly referred to it as being in Conway. Never rely on memory.)

So, drive your car on over to Charlemont and over the bridge, but then walk back. It’s worth a closer look.

2 comments:

John Hayes said...

That's a beautifully reconstructed bridge--interesting how the town fought for it. Good for them. Covered bridges are a real source of identity for New England towns I think.

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

Hi, John. The emotional response we seem to have for covered bridges is interesting. Covered bridges and lighthouses.