Note: This is a part of a series about the covered bridges in southwestern New Hampshire. While I reference the covered bridge I had come from and the one I was headed to visit, these articles can be read without needing to read the entry about the previous bridge visited. The six covered bridges visited in this journey are: Carlton, Sawyer’s Crossing, West Swanzey, Slate, Coombs and Ashuelot.
I had finished photographing Slate Covered Bridge and returned to the vehicle. I was in the process of putting the camera away when I was informed I had somehow missed a covered bridge located along my route. While waiting for me at the bridge, my mother was reading a pamphlet we had picked up and New Hampshire’s covered bridges and reading it, she had discovered another covered bridge a short distance away.
“It’s not too far away,” she informed me as I drove through Slate Covered Bridge. I followed Westport Village Road, and turned left onto Route 10 and immediately turned right onto Coombs Bridge Road.
The Coombs Covered Bridge was instantly in sight. The bridge was on Coombs Bridge Road at the junction with Old Westport and Old Swanzey Roads. Two things immediately jumped out about this bridge was 1) unlike the previous covered bridges of the day, this one was not painted the familiar red with white trim, with the wood unpainted and weathered and 2) I arrived at the same time as other photographers – a lot of photographers. Cars lined both sides of the road with people carrying their cameras to points along the road to photograph it.
“This is odd,” I spoke as I noted the lines of vehicles. “I wonder what is going on?”
“Not sure,” my mother replied. “You going to photograph it or let it go?”
“What do you tell me? It may be a long time before I get back up here?” I pulled in behind an old truck and parked. Grabbing my camera, I got out and walked to the bridge.
The Coombs Covered Bridge is a single span bridge that crosses the Ashuelot River. It has a length of one hundred and ten feet and features a covered Town Lattice Truss.
The early years of the bridge is debated. Some places state that it was erected by Anthony Coombs, Jr. on his property in 1837. Other places state it was erected the mid-1840s after the town decided a bridge needed to be built at this location. In the application for the bridge being placed on the National Register of Historic Places states the bridge was erected by “one of the descendants of Anthony Combs, or Coombs, who settled in Winchester shortly after the Revolution.” This application places the erection of the bridge in 1837.
When the bridge was erected, the stone abutments – the stone bases on each side of the stream or river on which the bridge rests – was only stacked stone that was not strengthened with concrete. The original bridge also did not have the outer wall to protect the Town Truss and the outer walls are a more recent addition. Note: I had not been able to determine when the outer, protective walls were placed on the Coombs Covered Bridge. Looking through older pictures, it appears the side walls may have been added during the renovations that happened in the late 1960s.
The bridge underwent extensive repairs in 1964, and massive rehabilitation in 1969 due to its deteriorating state. It was suggested by the state to bypass the bridge, but this suggestion never received merit from the community. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in November 1979.
I finished taking my photographs as more vehicles parked along the roadway to visit the bridge. I left them have their time there and headed back towards Route 10 and the final covered bridge on my morning’s journey – The Ashuelot Covered Bridge.
Note: for the record, I never did figure out why everyone was interested in the Coombs Covered Bridge that morning. Of the six bridges, this was the only one that I had encountered any other visitors. I believe it was just an odd coincidence that we all arrived to visit the same bridge at the same time.
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