The Covered Bridges of Litchfield County
Covered bridges that date back to colonial times are an iconic image of Northwest Connecticut, and the Kent/Cornwall area boasts some of the oldest of these structures still in existence in New England. On Sunday, March 20, 2016, these beloved landmarks were explored by an expert who knows their history and their engineering.
Author William S. Caswell Jr. shared many historic photographs and information gathered for his book, Connecticut and Rhode Island Covered Bridges, which boasts rare vintage images and postcard memories of days gone by.
During their heyday in the 1800s, more than 150 covered bridges dotted the landscape of Connecticut and Rhode Island, with many concentrated in the hills of northwestern Connecticut. Since then, fires, floods, and progress have claimed all but three of the historic structures.
Connecticut was the birthplace of two of the nation’s best known covered bridge designers: Ithiel Town and Theodore Burr. Half of the covered bridges currently standing in the United States are supported by trusses patented by Town or Burr.
Kent’s Bulls Bridge is an example of a modification of Town’s lattice truss design, for which he received his first patent in 1820. The covered bridge in West Cornwall is another example of the modified truss design. They are two of the remaining three covered bridges in the state.
Caswell, an engineer for the NH Department of Transportation, is president and historian for the National Society for the Preservation of Covered Bridges, and also maintains a website dedicated to gathering and sharing covered bridge photographs and information.
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