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Old Stone Arches

Monday, August 26, 2013

Bridges fascinate me. Mostly they help us avoid some hard places to cross in a very efficient manner. In our lives they span some difficulties in relationships or ease us through those troughs of sorrow and confusion. Bridges of stone can remind us to bridge our own personal gaping gaps.
DH and I just learned that New Hampshire has two National Historic Civil Engineering Landmarks: the Mt. Washington Cog Railway and Hillsborough’s five stone arch masonry bridges. To attend the festivities on Jones Road last weekend, we crossed one of these, the Carr Stone Arch Bridge across Beard Brook. (built in the 1850’s)

On Wednesday, I decided to go photograph each of the bridges. Four of these 1830-1866 spans continue to be used for regular foot and vehicle traffic. When I walked to the opposite side of the Carr Bridge for a “photo op”, a great blue heron flew under an arch and sped down stream. Unfortunately, I missed capturing it “on film”.

The next bridge up Beard Brook Road is the Gleason Falls Stone Arch Bridge (1830). The rocks all around are massive and water often gushes through the arches. The wonder is that after so many spring-summer-fall-winter seasons, these mortarless arches still stand against all elements.

The “hidden” bridge is on Gleason Falls Road( mid-1800’s), nearly buried under foliage. But I was able to get some shots of these very calm waters above the falls.

We live just off Second New Hampshire Turnpike (now Route 31), which was once the main route from Boston to Vermont. Completed in 1801, the turnpike originally had a timber bridge crossing North Branch River near Fuller Tannery. However, with frequent storms and flooding, the weaker wooden bridges did not last. So stones were carefully cut at angles to hold together in “dry construction” (no lime mortar was used). These two arches were completed in 1864.

The fifth bridge is Sawyer Stone Arch Bridge(1866) which once held the traffic from Peterborough and southern towns, coming from and going to Hillsborough leading east to Concord. (Route 202) Now it has become “the bridge to no-where”,standing stately beside its modern day replacement.

So what are the areas of your life in which you need a crossing?
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Beautiful bridges! We have them like that in my area (in the country). I love those too!
    1637 days ago
    These pictures are absolutely beautiful! Thanks for the history to go along with them. I love old bridges. Great blog post;)
    1638 days ago
    emoticon I love those bridges. I've never seen stone arch bridges. They are beautiful! And no mortar between the stones? Wow! That's amazing!
    1638 days ago
  • 68ANNE
    I lived on 2nd NH Turnpike in Unity for over twenty years and learned much about it from Unity's local historian. Claremont does not call it 2nd NH Tpk anymore and parts of Lempster are the same, too. I was more fascinated with the way they maintained and plowed the old road than the bridges.
    1638 days ago
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