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, Paper Mill, and Burt Henry Covered Bridges.
I passed through Paper Mill Covered Bridge, I turned left onto Route 67A, followed the GPS to the last of the three covered bridges spanning the Walloomsac River west of Bennington, Vermont. What I did not know as I turned onto Route 67A, was had I went the opposite way on Murphy Road, I would have arrived at the same destination. Instead, I followed Route 67A a short distance before turning left onto River Road.
There was a small park near the bridge close to the intersection with Murphy and Harrington Roads. I got out of the vehicle and walked toward the river, just north of the bridge. I picked my spot and was in the process of setting up the camera when a voice called out from the wall of brush separating the park from the flowing waters.
“Nice morning,” the voice called out. “You know it’s not original?” An older man dressed in fishing gear, complete with hip waders, appeared from the brush.
“I read somewhere it had been replaced,” I replied. “This is a replica of the original.”
The older man flinched. “Don’t tell locals it is a replica. They might run you out of town. There were a lot of hard feelings when the state decided to raze and rebuild rather than rehabilitate.”
“Why was that?” I asked.
“Locals were promised the bridge would be saved, but at the last minute, it was changed and they demolished the bridge. Thing is they failed to tell the locals until after the decision was made.” He fumbled with putting bait on the hook, taking his attention to something other than the bridge.
“Going to be a nice day to fish, but not for you,” he spoke as he stepped into the flowing waters.
“Going to rain. You are going to get wet, but the fish should be biting good today.” He only waded out a couple steps before casting his line into the flowing waters. “My father used to tell me if you teach a man to fish, he’ll go broke buying the gear he needs.” He laughed at his joke and I had to admit I smiled at the stranger’s words.
The original Burt Henry Covered Bridge, which is commonly referred to as the Henry Covered Bridge, was erected around 1840, though some believe it may have been erected as early as 1830. The bridge was named after the Henry Family who operated a water-powered grist mill near the southern entrance to the bridge.
Burt Henry Covered Bridge was a single-span with a length of one hundred and twenty-one feet, and featured a Town lattice truss. The outside wall had vertical boards that covered the bottom half of the bridge and the interior, like the other two of the morning’s journey, had interior coverings at both entrances to protect the truss.
At some point after being erected, the bridge had additional supports added to allow heavier vehicles to cross it. These additional supports did little to the bridge as it sagged greatly. After years of use, it was closed in 1952, having sagged more than seven inches over the previous year. The decision was made to close the bridge until repairs could be made. When those repairs were made, the additional supports that had been added were removed. The original bridge was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places on August 28, 1973.
The years had not been good to the bridge and in 1989, the original bridge was demolished and rebuilt. The new bridge was erected at the same location over the Walloomsac.
The man was still calling out advice and warning me of the coming storms as I finished up and repacked my camera. I wished him luck as he continued to fish in the shadow of the Burt Henry Covered Bridge.