This post is brought to you by our friends at Visit New Hampshire!
There are few things more charming than a vintage covered bridge. Back in the day, wooden bridges were built across streams and creeks all over the country. Roofs were added to preserve bridge lifespans, as a wooden bridge without a roof usually lasted only 10 to 15 years. Only a mere fraction of the 400 covered bridges that were once in New Hampshire have survived to the present day, and the ones still standing have undergone maintenance to keep them in good condition. While New Hampshire might not have the most covered bridges, it does have the longest (and some of the prettiest as well; we can’t forget the really scenic ones!) Pack a picnic, grab your camera, find your sweetheart, and check out some of New Hampshire’s most unique historic covered bridges.
Windsor-Cornish Covered Bridge
The Windsor-Cornish Covered Bridge is probably the most famous bridge in New Hampshire. Up until 2008, it was the country’s longest… and this one gets brownie points for being built in 1866. It crosses state borders, connecting Cornish, New Hampshire and Windsor, Vermont, and is the fourth bridge on this site. Earlier ones were built in 1796, 1824 and 1828. The current bridge is owned and operated by the state of New Hampshire, and was most recently fixed up in the 1980s. It only carries car traffic.
Jackson Honeymoon Covered Bridge
The Honeymoon Bridge in Jackson gets its sweet name from a local tradition of sweethearts kissing below it for good luck. Though the legend of the name dates back to the 1930s, the bridge itself was originally built in 1876 by Civil War veteran Charles Austin Broughton and his son Frank. It was illuminated with lights in 1899 and a sidewalk for pedestrians was added in 1930, but the most exciting addition to the bridge came in 2001 when a fire protection system was added to keep it safe for years to come.
The Bath Covered Bridge is one of the state’s oldest, built in 1832. The first bridge here was built in 1794. That bridge was washed away by flooding in 1806, as was the next bridge in 1820. That one, incidentally, was also destroyed by a flood in 1826. The final bridge before the current one was taken down by a fire. The Bath Covered Bridge sees little traffic (though it can support cars and pedestrians) as it’s in a rural area… but it’s quite scenic, directly over a small waterfall on the Ammonoosuc River.
Cilleyville Bog Covered Bridge
The Bog Bridge in Cilleyville is as about as untouched as covered bridges come. The lattice truss is distinctive, giving it flair. The asphalt roof shingles are, however, a more recent addition. This bridge was built in 1887, and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989. It even survived a hurricane in 1938, which is pretty impressive. This bridge is for foot traffic only. As you cross, you might feel a slight tilt; that’s because it was built without lateral bracing.
Contoocook Railroad Bridge
Covered bridges weren’t just for people, horse-drawn carriages and cars; they were great for trains as well. The Contoocook Railroad Covered Bridge is the oldest covered railroad bridge in the country. It was built in 1889 to serve the Concord and Claremont Railroad. It served the railroad well until 1962. After that, it was used as a warehouse through the 1990s. It’s a tough old bridge, having survived a flood in 1936, a 1938 hurricane, and was even moved off its foundations, not once, but twice. The tracks running through it saved it many times.
Ashuelot Covered Bridge
Built between 1864-65, the Ashuelot Covered Bridge has been guiding locals over the Ashuelot River for generations. It can handle cars and pedestrians, but it’s best experienced by walking over. That’s because the walls aren’t fully sheathed, meaning you can peer out over the river between the lattice slats as you stroll across. The long eaves of the roof protect the bridge from the elements.
Cold River Bridge
The current Cold River Bridge (sometimes called the McDermott Bridge) was built in 1869 by Albert S. Granger, and has the distinction of being the fourth bridge constructed on this site. It once carried cars, but Crane Brook Road was rerouted to carry auto traffic over a modern bridge not too far away. That means it’s a secluded little spot for a stroll and some pictures.