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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Arthur A. Smith Covered Bridge - Colrain, Mass.

The Arthur A. Smith Bridge, named for a Civil War Army captain, was first in one location over the North River, then moved further downstream to the Lyonsville Road spot about 1886. It would be moved again, not downstream or upstream, but over onto dry land.

At the time of the photo above, the Arthur A. Smith Bridge, as you can see, was dry docked, for a lack of a better word, in a crumbling state and left in the embarrassing position of rotting in a cornfield since 1991. It had been placed on the National Register of Historic Placed back in 1983, so it was hoped the bridge could one day be restored.

Eventually, in 2005, it was. For a look at the restored Arthur A. Smith Covered Bridge, back in its function as a bridge crossing the North River, have a look at this website. The bridge had been built originally in 1870 (replacing an earlier bridge), a Burr arch design 99 feet in length, originally meant for one lane of traffic (horse-drawn, that is). It was not originally covered, but the roof was added in the 1890s. Today it is used only for pedestrian traffic.

The 1938 WPA “Guide to Massachusetts” lists two covered bridges at this spot in Colrain. If anyone knows more about the second one, I’d love to know. (There had once been several more covered bridges in Colrain, and the Arthur A. Smith is the very last.)

It’s nice to see the photo of the restored bridge over the North River off Rt. 112 all painted red and tidy, but the above view of the bridge to nowhere has perhaps even more emotion to it. There is something haunted-looking about an historic site left abandoned. As it is, the restored bridge, now open only to pedestrian traffic, is little more than ornamental. Perhaps the restoration of this long dormant chunk of 19th century infrastructure says something about the power and the worth of even what is only ornamental.


Unknown said...

That's a really compelling photo. Are many of the covered bridges only for pedestrian traffic these days? It seems most were open to car traffic when I lived in New England, but that was years go.

Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Hi, John. As far as I know, most are open to vehicular traffic, but I do know of at least one other covered bridge that is supposed to be pedestrian-only, and that's the Bissell bridge in Conway, Mass. I'll probably cover that one next month.

Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

NOTE: For an update on the Bissell Bridge, which I mistakenly referred to here as being open only to foot traffic, and mistakenly referred to as being in Conway, please have a look at this post from November 3rd on the Bissell Bridge in Charlemont (

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