Although covered bridges can be found as far away as Oregon, it is New England that is considered to be the ‘home’ of these unusual bridges. Once upon a time Maine had around 120 covered bridges, but sadly there are now only nine left. Only five of these are still carrying traffic and two of those are replicas built to replace bridges that were destroyed. It does seem that the covered bridge is an endangered species in Maine. The few that remain are worth seeking out because of their settings within the scenery of Maine, especially during the fall foliage season.
Lowes Bridge near Sangerville
Lowes bridge was built in 1857 over the Piscataquis River. It had a span of 36 metres (120 feet) and was constructed using a Long Truss, which was patented by Colonel Stephen H. Long in 1830. This is a truss that looks very traditional with a top and bottom beams (chords) connected by vertical posts at regular intervals and each panel formed by the chords and posts is braced with two opposing diagonals. The shape of each panel was ‘tuned’ by fitting wedges between the diagonals and the chords/posts. Lowes Bridge lasted for 130 years until, sadly, it was washed away by a flood in April 1987. This replacement bridge was built in 1990 to the original design on the abutments of the old bridge. Click Tab 2 to see a diagram of a Long Truss.
Lovejoy Covered Bridge, South Andover
The Lovejoy bridge was built in 1868 and was reinforced in 1984 to allow it to continue to carry local traffic. It crosses the Ellis River and is Maine's shortest covered bridge with a span of just 21 metres (70 feet). Like the Bennett Covered Bridge it is a Paddleford truss bridge.
Bennett Covered Bridge, Wilsons Mills
Bennett Covered Bridge was built in 1901 across the Magalloway River with a span of 28.3 metres (93 feet). It was constructed using trusses designed by Peter Paddleford, a bridge builder from Littleton, New Hampshire. The truss bears some similarity to the Long Truss, but some of the diagonals do not align with the corners of the panels formed by the chords and posts. These trusses had to be built with great skill and precision. Although few Paddleford truss bridges have survived, all of the remaining bridges on this page are of that design. Bennett Covered Bridge was closed to traffic in 1985. Click Tab 2 to see a diagram of a Paddleford Truss.
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Sunday River Covered Bridge, Newry
Our final Paddleford truss bridge is also known as the ‘Artists Bridge’ as it is apparently the most photographed and painted covered bridge in Maine. Built in 1872 the Sunday River Bridge is 26.5 metres (87 feet) long. Driving across the bridge is no longer permitted, it was closed in 1958 when a new bridge was built nearby. Click Tab 2 to see the bridge from the river bank.
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