West Dummerston Covered Bridge

West Dummerston Covered Bridge, Vermont

The sun had peaked over the distant horizon as we left Brattleboro and headed northwest on Route 30. The plan for that day’s journey was to explore the covered bridges of Vermont and southwestern New Hampshire and make a stop at the grave of one my favorite authors – Willa Cather. More about Willa Cather can be found here: Willa Cather.

However, before we ventured into New Hampshire to visit her resting place, we left the hotel and headed towards West Dummerston, Vermont. Paralleling the West River, we passed through the community and soon saw the first stop of the morning – the West Dummerston Covered Bridge, which spans the river on our right.

I was in for a surprise when we arrived at the parking lot along Route 30 and the West Dummerston Covered Bridge. The lot was filled with motorcyclists who were preparing their own journey for the day – at least they had a nice day to ride.

Taking a couple pictures before driving through the bridge – the bridge itself is listed as East-West Road, which connects Route 30 and Camp Arden Road. The West Dummerston Covered Bridge is only wide enough for one vehicle to pass through at a time, and while I did not have to wait on the first pass, I found myself waiting on the other side before traffic cleared so I could drive back to Route 30. Turning back towards Brattleboro, I drove just a short distance when I saw a pull-off on the riverside of Route 30 and pulled into what looked to be a road at one time.

Getting out, I was greeted with a full view of the West Dummerston Covered Bridge. The historic bridge was erected in 1872 by Caleb Lamson to replace a covered bridge that once stood a quarter mile upriver which was destroyed by a flood in 1869. Lamson’s bridge took three years to build at a cost of $7777.06. With a length of two hundred and eighty feet, the bridge has a Town lattice truss and features two spans which rest upon a stone pier in the West River. During the construction of the covered bridge Lamson was injured when the falsework – the temporary framework used to support the bridge – collapsed with him on it. Lamson received a serious back injury when he landed on a rock in the river when it collapsed.

Note: most places list the West Dummerston Covered Bridge as being the only remaining bridge built by Caleb Lamson. However, in the June 11, 1998 edition of The Brattleboro Reformer, it is mentioned the Williamsville Covered Bridge was built by Lamson around 1860. Most modern sources list the Williamsville Covered Bridge as being erected by “builder known.”

The historic bridge had a total floor replacement in 1948 and had extensive repairs in the 1970s and 1980s to keep the bridge open. By 1994 the bridge was in poor condition and was leaning downstream. Temporary cables were placed to keep the bridge from falling into the waters of the West River. The bridge underwent rehabilitation and was open again for traffic in 1998.

I finished taking my photographs as the line of motorcycles passed by. Once they were all past, I joined at the end of their lines and headed back towards Brattleboro and then on towards New Hampshire.

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