Western, Central Massachusetts are home to historic covered bridges
More than 100 covered bridges have been built in Massachusetts since Timothy Palmer’s 1792 open timber truss bridge at Amesbury was roofed in 1810. In the 20th century, Massachusetts experienced a modest revival of timber covered bridge construction. A handful of “Massachusetts modern” covered bridges were built in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s as replacements for historic wooden bridges too dilapidated to be saved. Today, a handful of both the old and the new covered bridges of Massachusetts still stand, and delight visitors, photographers, and people who love traditional structures.
Conway, MA, 01341
Location: From Greenfield take Route 91 South to exit 25 and Route 116 North to Conway. From the center of Conway go north on Route 116 toward Ashfield, about one mile. The bridge is on the left, open only to pedestrians.
The Burkeville Covered Bridge, built in 1870, is the oldest surviving covered bridge in the United States. The bridge crosses the South River just west of Conway. It is believed to be unique in the Northeast in its forward-looking incorporation of iron tension members into a traditional timber truss, and it has been said to represent state of the art wooden bridge building as practiced by knowledgeable builders of its period. Closed to traffic. One-span variation of a Howe truss; 107 feet long. There is one small parking area directly in front of the bridge.
Upper Sheffield Bridge
Bridge Road (also: Covered Bridge Lane)
Sheffield, MA, 01257
Location: Take US 7, about 0.8 miles north of Sheffield, then east 0.2 miles to the bridge.
The Upper Sheffield Covered Bridge, built in 1999, carries Bridge Road over the Housatonic River. This bridge is replaces a historic bridge which was built in 1832 and destroyed by fire in 1994. It was designed to be as close to a reproduction of the historic original as modern engineering standards would allow. The bridge is now open to foot traffic only. One-span Town Lattice truss; 93 feet long.
Charlemont, MA, 01339
Location: Route 2 to Charlemont; turn right onto Route 8A North; the bridge is 600 feet from Route 2.
The Bissell Covered Bridge, built in 1951, crosses Mill Brook just north of Charlemont. The bridge is closed to vehicles but open to pedestrians. The bridge is the second covered bridge at this location. One-span variation of a Long truss; 60 feet long. Parking on the north side of bridge along Route 8A, on the east side of the road.
Vermont Covered Bridge (Service Bridge)
Originally erected in Dummerston, Vermont, in 1874, the former Taft Bridge was dismantled, moved, and re-erected on the grounds of Old Sturbridge Village in 1952, where it crosses the Quinebaug River. It is a fine example of a single-web, single-chord, wooden-lattice truss. This patented 1820 design by Connecticut architect Ithiel Town was popular across the country throughout the 19th century. Length of 55 feet.
Gilbertville (Ware) Bridge
Bridge Street, off State Route 32
Gilbertville, MA, 01031
The Gilbertville Bridge, built in 1886, cross the Ware River. It uses a heftier version of the Town lattice truss, using doubled chord members to increase the stiffness of the lattice trusses. Length of 137 feet.
Arthur A. Smith Bridge
Colrain, MA, 01340
Location: Route 2 to Shelburne and Route 112 North to Colrain.
This is the last surviving Burr arch-truss covered bridge in Massachusetts. Originally erected further downstream about 1870, the bridge was moved to the Lyonsville Road crossing of the East Branch of the North River in 1886. The single-plank timber arches that sandwich its multiple-kingpost trusses (forming the Burr arch-truss configuration) appear to have been in place from the start. A much heavier pair of nail-laminated plank arches was added in about 1930 inside the trusses to strengthen the bridge. Length of 100 feet.
Pumping Station Bridge
Eunice Williams Drive
Greenfield, MA, 01301
Location: From the rotary in Greenfield, take Route 2 West to the first light and go right onto Colrain Road. Just past Nash’s Mill Road, the road forks. Bear left onto Green River Road. The next right is Eunice Williams Drive. Follow Eunice Williams Driv
The Green River Pumping Station Covered Bridge, built in 1972, crosses the Green River north of Greenfield. The bridge is currently closed to vehicular traffic. The bridge is the second covered bridge at this location, replacing a bridge built in 1870 and destroyed by rson in 1969. The bridge’s very deep eaves that shelter a sidewalk on the northerly side give the structure a distinctive profile. One-span Howe truss; 95 feet long. Parking is available on either side of the bridge.
Ashfield, MA, 01330
Location: On the south side of Creamery Road, south of the village of Ashfield.
The Creamery Covered Bridge, built in 1985, crosses Creamery Brook south of Ashfield. It is the entrance to private property. One-span queenpost truss; 40 feet long. No parking available.