My first real encounter with a covered bridge in New England was in Woodstock, Vermont. I’m sure I had passed them by before but not done any belly-to-belly dialogue with one.
Then a trip to Connecticut bought me through the town of West Cornwall and the covered bridge you go through on route 128 over the Housatonic River in Litchfield County. Here was a working bridge and a chance to stop and look at one of these beauties up close and personal as they say.
Like art, I know what I like, even if I can’t explain the connections, and I came to appreciate these once functional devices for the heritage and the workmanship that went into building and marinating them.
The covered bridge in West Cornwall is a much photographed bridge and one of just a few in Connecticut – Vermont has the most covered bridges in New England – but I recommend you take a stop when in the area to admire it. Park in the town and walk back to the bridge.
The West Cornwall Bridge is a lattice design, which apparently was popular design for the era it was built in – 1841.
There’s been much written about why covered bridges were built at all, after all it seems like a lot of extra work to do just for a bridge. The most plausible reason I’ve read is protection. Apparently by covering a bridge it protected the main structure from the harsh extremes of weather in New England and the bridges survived longer and with less maintenance.
Of course today we don’t worry about that aspect when we build bridges. But there again we don’t tend to stop and admire the handiwork of the latest steel and concrete bridges being built these days. At least I don’t.
Of course the area of West Cornwall is picturesque for other reasons than the covered bridge, in fact there’s another covered bridge a short distance away at the Kent Falls State Park. It’s a small one and modern in the sense it was built in 1974, but the park is great to visit anyways to see the falls and walk the paths and trails and rest for a picnic.
If you’re more adventurous, and visiting during summer months then you can take a rafting or kayak ride along some of the challenging rapids in the area at Bulls Bridge – I’m told experts only on this section!