Bridge Tour (9/7/18)
September 7, 2018
7:30 am - 5:00 pm
Learn about the amazing dry stone bridges of Southern New Hampshire. This guided tour will get you an up close look at some of the best historic examples of dry stone bridges in New England. Sept 7th. 7:30 – 4:30
Pair this tour with the bridge building workshop Sept 8 &9!
The forces of geology, technology and economics combined in the period from 1830 to 1875 to drive a bridge building boom in southwestern NH. Dry stone arches were the material of choice for heavily traveled routes that had modest spans. Foreign stone masons hired by the railroad brought technology and technique. Yankee ingenuity and economics did the rest.
The Stone Trust Bridge Tour will guide you to see 11 of these bridges that are still standing. Four still carry daily traffic! From the iconic to the forgotten, our tour will explore each of these in a day-long journey around this corner of NH.
You will be learn about the history of each bridge and also about their construction. The bridges selected for the tour range from light duty to massive. They also range from rustic to refined. As an added bonus, the tour transits some of the most beautiful parts of NH.
At each bridge we will explore up close to see the builder’s skill, and the effects of time. It is our goal that through the course of the day, you develop an understanding of how bridges are built and how they fail. We also hope you will be moved by the combination of artistry and skill that is reflected in these beautiful structures and the native materials shaped by hand to construct them
Lyndeborough – Two bridges in one stop allow Stoney Brook to cross Old Temple Road. The two arches were not constructed with the same degree of skill. The larger is a 20 foot span in excellent condition. The smaller provides our first lesson in how poor construction can lead to failure!
Hillsborough – We will stop at four of the five remaining arches in Hillsborough which was once home to eleven stone bridges! The bridges we will visit include a single arch bridge and three double arch bridges. All still carry auto traffic. Each has its own allure; rushing water through Gleasons Falls, the elegant lines of the Carr Bridge, the tranquility of Beard Brook from downstream, or the sheer stubbornness of Sawmill Bridge resisting time.
Stoddard – This iconic double arch bridge is captured in many a painting and photo. Built on bedrock, the bridge stands as a testament to the strength of granite in compression.
Gilsum – This bridge carries daily traffic over a 34’-high clear span. Roughly quarried stone speaks to the builders economic choice. The graceful lines of the bridge illustrate how skilled craftsmen made this material sing.
Keene – The Cheshire Railroad Bridge is a mammoth structure with a 90 foot span and 60 foot clear span. Built in 1847 to carry two rail lines, the bridge is no longer used. This structure is the most refined bridge we will see and is a truly awesome site.
Marlboro – The Webb Arch carried a railroad spur serving nearby granite quarries. Similar construction techniques were employed as the Cheshire bridge. The structure has an elegance the belies its simple utilitarian roots.
New Ipswich – The High Bridge is quite different from the others on the tour. The actual arch is relatively small however it sits beneath 35 feet of stone! State highway improvements resulted in the construction of a steel and concrete bridge with several feet of open space between the stone and the new bridge.
Brian Post is one of the few Dry Stone Master Craftsmen in North America. He is also a Licensed Landscape Architect, and the only person with both credentials. Brian started building stone walls at age 10 and has been working with stone whenever possible since then. In addition to working in New England he has trained and traveled extensively in the UK. He is the Executive Director of The Stone Trust.
Tim Berry is a painter and carpenter specializing in historic preservation. Too lazy to pursue a career in engineering he is never the less very interested in how things are built, particularly bridges of stone, steel, wood and concrete. Since moving to south central New Hampshire eight years ago I’m particularly taken with the dry laid native stone arches our region is famous for.
I’ve been in the building trades for over 40 years including a brief stint laying brick, block and stone about 30 years ago. Other than that my interest in stone work comes from appreciation of the hard work, skill and history surrounding these monuments to man’s skill and creativity.
Pete Ryder is a certified Dry Stone Instructor and President of The Stone Trust. He is a New Hampshire native who builds and teaches dry stone construction in New Boston NH. As a retired engineer he is drawn by the simplicity and strength of stone arch bridges. As a New Hampshire native son he finds a sense of place in these remaining testaments to hard working yankee craftsmen.
We will depart at 7:30 from Lorden Plaza (614 Nashua St) in Milford NH. The Stone Trust will provide vans to transport you on the tour to enable discussion between sites and to facilitate access and parking at the bridges. Anticipate approximately 9 hours for the tour.
A handout summarizing the tour will be provided for your reference and note taking.
Conditions for viewing the bridges vary. Please come prepared to encounter occasional poison ivy or brambles. You will have the opportunity to see most of the bridges from the water. If this appeals to you, please come equipped with footwear for wading and climbing moderately rough or slippery terrain. For those less adventurous, the beauty of most of the bridges can be appreciated from roadside or similar vantage points.
We are not providing lunch but will be stopping at a convenient sandwich shop for a brief meal at midday. Please bring snacks and refreshments as needed. No alcohol is allowed.
Landscape Architects receive 7.5 credit hours for taking this workshop through the LA CES system.