West Dummerston Covered Bridge
National Register Nomination Information:
The West Dummerston Covered Bridge is supported by two flanking timber Town lattice trusses. The bridge is built in two spans, resting on a central pier, that extend a combined length of 267 feet along the floor. The Westerly span is 143 feet long, and the easterly is 124 feet. The gable ends overhang the floor at each end of the bridge by two feet; hence, along the top of the trusses, the bridge is 271 feet long. The bridge is 22 feet wide, with an 18-foot roadway. The pier and the abutments supporting the ends of the bridge are constructed of stone blocks. The abutments are anchored to the underlying bedrock with iron reinforcing rods.
On the exterior, the large planks pegged together diagonally to form the trusses (and side walls) of the bridge are sheathed with flush boards hung vertically. Rectangular openings in the side walls near each corner of the bridge were added early in the automobile era to provide increased visibility of on-coming traffic. Six diamond-shaped windows were later cut in each side of the bridge to allow more light to enter the interior.
The ends of the bridge were originally flat and sheathed with horizontal siding of flush boards. Now, however, the gable ends overhang the portals, and clapboards have replaced the flush boards. Both ends of the bridge and the wooden siding which protects the ends of the trusses immediately inside the portals have been painted white. The roof of the bridge, originally shingled in wood, has been covered with corrugated metal sheeting. The floor of the bridge has been paved to impede damage from weathering.
About 1942 the bridge deck underwent extensive repairs including replacement both of structural members and deck planking. Two laminated stringers have been added to the underside of the floor parallel to the trusses for reinforcement. Each stringer consists of short timbers tie-bolted together. This was done to strengthen the bridge for heavier vehicular traffic
The West Dummerston Covered Bridge is the second longest covered wooden highway bridge wholly within the state of Vermont, and the longest covered bridge still open to traffic. Constructed in 1872 by Caleb B. Lamson, a locally prominent bridge builder, the West Dummerston bridge is the only known example of his work to survive.(l) While some reinforcement has been added to the floor of the bridge, its structure has not been significantly altered from its original condition. The vehicular load limit of ten tons currently allowed across the bridge attests to its structural soundness and to the ability of its builder.
The covered bridges of Vermont are among its most cherished and symbolic historic resources. About one hundred bridges still stand in the state, probably the greatest concentration by area of covered bridges in the country.(2) Many of these bridges are integral parts of unique architectural environments whose physical setting and cultural context have been little altered until recently. However, extensive highway construction programs are now drastically changing the historic environment of the state. The Vermont Division of Historic Sites hopes to extend the recognition and protection of the National Register to the majority of the surviving covered bridges, including the West Dummerston bridge.
Morse, Victor (rev. by R. S. Allen). Windham County's Famous Covered Bridges. (Brattleboro, Vt: The Stephen Greene Press, 1960)
Allen, Richard Sanders. Covered Bridges of the Northeast. (Brattleboro, Vt.: The The Stephen Greene Press, 1957)
DATE ENTERED: May 8, 1973.
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