You may not have noticed in the recent news coverage about Hurricane Irene's destructive trip up the U.S. East Coast, but the longest single-span covered bridge that stood since 1855 in North Blenheim, NY succumbed to the raging Schoharie Creek pouring out of the Catskill Mountains.
Vermont's Nichols M. Powers designed and built the bridge, made from virgin pine, to span 210 feet from stone abutment to abutment. The heart of its structure was a center arch which rose up to the roof ridge pole. Because of the arch in the center of the span, there was room for a travel lane on each side—making it one of only six covered bridges with twin roadways.
When torn from its abutments, the wooden bridge was thrown against the nearby, and recently built, steel and concrete span used for today's vehicles—leaving its metal roof panels on that bridge as its wooden structure was smashed by the impact and carried downstream.
The Blenheim Bridge was in the U.S. Registry of Historic Places. But more than an engineering icon, the bridge was also part of the lives of generations of locals and visitors who swam in the creek at the site.
View engineering drawings of the Blenheim Bridge from Library of Congress here.
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