Note: Just west of Bennington, Vermont are three covered bridges I had the opportunity to visit while touring the region. Each of them can be read as their own article, but the journey to visit the covered bridges that morning was: : Silk Road, Paper Mill, and Burt Henry Covered Bridges.
The morning had been spent in Bennington, Vermont. I was nearing the end of a New England vacation that took my parents and I on what we referred to as “The Bridges and Burial Grounds Tour.” The title of our vacation was due to most of our stops involved 1) the resting places of notable authors, or 2) covered bridges. We had spent the morning at the Old Bennington Cemetery where I wandered the historic graveyard after paying respects to one of my favorite poets, Robert Frost. Note: More about Robert Frost can be found here: Robert Frost.
Leaving Bennington, we headed westward to visit the first of three covered bridges crossing the Walloomsac River. Heading downriver from Bennington, all three bridges are within a two-mile stretch of the river beginning with Silk, then Paper Mill, and ending with Burt Henry. Following Route 67A out of town, we turned left onto Silk Road and could see the first bridge of the morning ahead of us.
On the northern side of the covered bridge, there were pull-offs on both sides of the road. I parked there and stepped out to get my first look at the Silk Road Covered Bridge, often shortened to Silk Covered Bridge. The first thing I immediately noticed was the bridge was very busy that morning and vehicles did not stop, slow down, nor yield as they sped through the bridge from both directions. Thankfully, I witnessed no accidents, but I was waiting for one to happen while I was visiting the bridge that morning. Note: Despite not seeing any accidents, reading through the newspaper articles about Silk Road Covered Bridge, it has been the victim of numerous automobile crashes.
Carefully crossing the road, I set up the camera in the grass and began snapping pictures.
Silk Road Covered Bridge was erected around 1840. Also known as Robinson Ranch and Locust Grove, the covered bridge takes its current name from the Silk Family who lived near the bridge.
The Silk Road Covered Bridge was erected with a length of eighty-eight feet, a single span and a Town lattice truss with vertical boards on the outside to protect the truss. The outside vertical boards covered roughly two-thirds of the truss, leaving the top open to allow light to enter. The interior of both entrances had roughly five feet of vertical boards to help protect the structure from the weather.
Benjamin Sears, of the local bridge building family, is credited for the construction of the bridge. By 1973, the year the application for the National Registry of Historic Places was submitted, the northern abutment was still original stone covered in concrete while the southern abutment had been rebuilt with concrete.
By 1986, the bridge was deemed unsafe due to an arson attempt and numerous vehicle accidents. While not closing the bridge to traffic, a weight limit was placed on it and the speed through it was reduced. Silk Road Covered Bridge underwent a restoration in 1991, which replaced the rotted wood, while keeping its original appearance. The bridge also underwent rehabilitation in 2011 after damage from the flood waters created by Hurricane Irene.
I finished photographing the Silk Road Covered Bridge and was putting away the camera, when another car parked behind mine. “Busy morning,” he greeted as he crossed the road to where I stood. I told him it had been very busy and while I had hoped to take some pictures from inside the bridge, the traffic had prevented it. He was hoping the traffic would cease long enough to do what I was unable and photograph it from the inside.
After talking for a couple minutes and watching the cars speeding through the bridge, I wished him luck. I then drove through the bridge toward the next bridge of the morning.