Monadnock Region Covered Bridges
There are six covered bridges in the area, all quite close together and easy to visit in one loop. Just over 30 miles, the loop can be done in an hour. CLICK HERE for a printable set of directions.
New Hampshire Covered Bridge #5, listed on the National Register of Historic Places
Located 100 yards from the front door of the Bridges Inn at Whitcomb House, you will find the Thompson Bridge, which is also known as the West Swanzey Bridge. Considered to be one of New Hampshire’s most beautiful covered bridges, it is painted red with white trim. It was originally built in 1832 by Zodoc Taft at a cost of $523.27. The bridge was presumably named for West Swanzey resident Denman Thompson (1833 – 1911), a playwright and theatre actor, who wrote the play, The Old Homestead, for which Thompson gained national recognition for his portrayal of the character of Joshua Whitcomb. This bridge is of the “Town lattice” truss style which was patented by Connecticut architect Ithiel Town in 1820 and 1835. It has two spans across the Ashuelot River, is 136’10” long with clear spans of 64’0″ and 63’6″, and once had two sidewalks, but now has only one, on the north side.
Directions from the front of the Bridges Inn: Look to your RIGHT and you wil see the Thompson Bridge.
New Hampshire Covered Bridge #1, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Located south of West Swanzey in Winchester, the Ashuelot Bridge, is considered by local historians to be one of New Hampshire’s most elaborate covered bridges. It was built in 1864 to transport wood across the Ashuelot River for use by the Ashuelot Railroad, which had a railroad station in the village of Ashuelot.
This structure has also been called the “Village Bridge” or “Village Station Bridge.” Some sources credit Nicholas Powers as the builder. This “Town lattice” truss style bridge is 169’0″ long, with two spans of 77’0″ and 77’3″ long, and has sidewalks on both sides of the bridge.
Directions from the front of the Bridges Inn: Go RIGHT on Main Street and through the Thompson Bridge; Main Street becomes California Street. Continue to Route 10. Turn LEFT on Route 10-South and continue 8.3 miles. Turn RIGHT onto Route 119 and continue 1.9 miles. Turn LEFT onto Bolton Road and you will see the Ashuelot Bridge.
New Hampshire Covered Bridge #7, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Located just south of Swanzey Center, the Carlton Bridge is one of the oldest in New Hampshire. Although the exact date of construction is not known, due to the loss of town records, the original bridge is believed to have been built in 1789 and the current bridge was built in 1869. The bridge was modified again in 1988 placing steel supports to stabilize the structure, and completely reconstructed in 1996 at a cost of $414,000 ($83,000 of which was paid by the town).
The Carlton Bridge crosses the South Branch of the Ashuelot River, connecting Swanzey Center and East Swanzey. This Queenpost style bridge has an overall length of 67’3″ with a clear span of 60’3″.
Directions from the front of the Bridges Inn: Go LEFT on Main Street and continue to the stop sign. Turn LEFT onto Railroad Street. In 0.2 mile, Railroad Street becomes Eaton Road. Continue for 2.5 miles and bear RIGHT onto Old Homestead Highway / Route 32. Continue 1.4 miles and turn LEFT onto Carlton Road and you will see the Carlton Bridge.
New Hampshire Covered Bridge #2, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Located just south of West Swanzey in Winchester, the Coombs Bridge was named after its original builder and owner, Anthony Coombs. This “Town lattice” truss style bridge is 106’6″ long with a clear span of 101’9″.
The Coombs Bridge once played an important role in both the social and commercial development of the area. Originally built in 1837, extensive repairs were made by the town of Winchester in 1964 and the bridge was reopened the same year. The bridge was rehabilitated in 1971 at a cost of $13,340 and is in need of repairs today.
Directions from the front of the Bridges Inn: Go RIGHT on Main Street and through the Thompson Bridge; Main Street becomes California Street. Continue to Route 10. Turn LEFT on Route 10-South and continue 2.9 miles. Turn RIGHT onto Coombs Bridge Road and you will see the Coombs Bridge.
New Hampshire Covered Bridge #6, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Located just west of Swanzey Center, the Cresson Bridge, named for an early settler, Thomas Cresson, is also known as Sawyer’s Crossing Bridge. This “Town lattice” truss style bridge has two spans, is 159’ long with a clear span of 61’6″, and has a center pier. Considered Swanzey’s most famous covered bridge, it is a favorite subject for artists and photographers. Arthur Godfrey used the bridge as a publicity tie-in for the Christmas carton of Chesterfield cigarettes in 1953. New Hampshire Governor Hugh Gregg flew to New York to present Mr. Godfrey with an honorary deed to the bridge, making him an owner. Spanning the Ashuelot River, the original bridge was built before 1771 and replaced in 1859 at a cost of $1,735.64. To commemorate the bridge’s completion, an all-night dance was held for the residents of Swanzey. According to In the Shadow of Monadnock by Suzanne Bergeron Whittemore, “The bridge was lighted by lanterns while musicians set up at one end of the bridge, and dancers arrived with baskets of food. Stepping lively to quadrilles, reels and contras, the dancers carried on until dawn.” The bridge was repaired in 1983 at a cost of $61,028.15 of which $16,446.22 was contributed by the town and the remainder came from the state. The bridge underwent major renovations in 1996.
Directions from the front of the Bridges Inn: Go RIGHT on Main Street and through the Thompson Bridge; Main Street becomes California Street. Continue to Route 10. Turn RIGHT onto Route 10-North and continue for 0.8 mile. Bear RIGHT onto Sawyer’s Crossing Road, continue for 1.5 miles, and you will see the Cresson Bridge.
New Hampshire Covered Bridge #4, placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. Located in the small village of Westport (part of Swanzey township), the Slate Bridge was named after the Slate family who lived on a farm along the Ashuelot River north of the bridge. This bridge is believed to have been built around 1835, but because town records are missing, the exact year of construction is unknown.
In 1842, William Wheelock was crossing the bridge with his team of four oxen when the bridge collapsed into the Ashuelot River. Although no one was hurt, Wheelock hired an attorney from Keene to seek damages from the town.
The bridge was replaced in 1862 with a 142’3’ long “Town lattice” truss style bridge with a clear span of 123’3″, using iron turnbuckle rods. During the summer of 1975, extensive repairs were made by the New Hampshire Department of Public Works and Highways, and the bridge was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
On March 8, 1993, the Slate Bridge was destroyed by arson. The current bridge was rebuilt in 2001 at a cost of $900,000 from funds raised by the Slate Covered Bridge Committee.
Directions from the front of the Bridges Inn: Go RIGHT on Main Street and through the Thompson Bridge; Main Street becomes California Street. Continue to Route 10. Turn LEFT on Route 10-South and continue 1.5 miles. Turn LEFT onto Old Westport Road and you will soon come to the Slate Bridge.
Tolls were collected on this bridge until 1842, at which point it became free to cross.
The following tolls were collected:
|Sheep and hogs||1/2 cent each|
|horses and cattle||1 cent each|
|horse and rider, or lead horse||7 cents each|
|sulky or chaise with one horse and two wheels||12 1/2 cents|
|Chaise, Coach, Stage, wagon, phaeton (two horses and four wheels)||25 cents|
|Chaise, Coach, Stage, wagon, phaeton (four horses and four wheels)||30 cents|
|cart or carriage drawn by one beast||8 cents each|
|cart or carriage drawn by two beasts||12 1/2 cents each|
|each additional pair of oxen or horses||7 1/2 cent each|
Located just over an hour from the Bridges Inn is the magnificent Cornish-Windsor Bridge that spans the Connecticut River connecting the towns of Cornish, New Hampshire and Windsor, Vermont.
The Cornish-Windsor Bridge is the longest wooden covered bridge in the United States and the longest two-span covered bridge in the world. The American Society of Civil Engineers designated it as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1970 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
This “Town lattice” truss style bridge is 449’5″ long and consists of two spans of 204’0″ and 203’0″. It has an overall width of 24’0″ and a roadway width of 19’6″, accommodating two lanes of traffic. It was built in 1866 by James Tasker & Bela J. Fletcher.
The above information and more can be found on the New Hampshire Department of Transportation website.
Driving directions from the Bridges Inn:
- Go RIGHT on Main St. and through the Thompson Bridge. Main St. becomes California St. Continue to RT-10.
- Turn RIGHT on Route 10-North and continue 4.0 mi. to the roundabout.
- Exit from the roundabout onto RT-101/RT-10/RT-12.
- Continue 0.5 mi. and turn RIGHT onto RT-9/RT-10/RT-12.
- Stay on RT-12 for 17.0 mi.
- Turn LEFT onto RT-123 (Crossing into Vermont). In 0.2 mi., RT-123 becomes VT-123.
- In 0.2 mi., turn RIGHT to stay on VT-123. At the Circle K, VT-123 becomes US-5.
- In 0.7 mi., turn LEFT onto Westminster St. Hwy. Continue for 0.6 mi, watching for signs for I-91 N.
- Merge onto I-91 N toward Rockingham/Springfield/W. R. Jct. [White River Junction].
- Stay on I-91 N for 22.6 mi. Take the VT-131 exit (Exit 8) toward US-5/Ascutney/VT-12/Windsor.
- In 0.2 mi., turn slight RIGHT onto VT-131 E.
- Continue 0.4 mi and turn LEFT onto US-5/VT-12/Route 5. Continue to follow US-5/VT-12.
27 Main Street, Swanzey, New Hampshire 03446 • (603) 357-6624