At ‘This Place in History’, we are not in Vermont. We are in Cornish, New Hampshire with the Executive Director of the Vermont Historical Society Steve Perkins.
“It ties New Hampshire to Vermont It’s this really big bridge that’s behind us. Beautiful Vermont is right across the river. We’re talking about the Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge,” began Perkins.
“It is very long. Up until 2008, it was the longest covered bridge in the United States. A modern covered bridge was built in Ohio that supplanted its supremacy. But, it is still the longest two-span covered bridge in the world, meaning there’s only one pier there. So, you’ve got two spans of wood going across. And, it’s very old. It was built in 1866 and it’s still taking automobile traffic today,” began Perkins.
“The bridge is 449 feet long. The length of that bridge made it a very popular ‘kissing bridge’. The idea behind a kissing bridge is you could go into the bridge and it gave you enough privacy as you were crossing that bridge to have a little smooch on your way across.”
“It’s a Town Lattice Truss Bridge and we’ve talked about it in the past in this program. You took a lot of small pieces of wood and made a criss-cross pattern with it that carpenters could then just nail together and it helped support that bridge,” explained Perkins.
“It was a private bridge, starting from when it was built in 1866 all the way up until 1936 when the state of New Hampshire took over operation of it. And it was a toll bridge. One of the interesting stories about this bridge when it first opened was that it connected dry Vermont – Vermont had been dry since about 1850, meaning no alcohol in the state – to wet Cornish, New Hampshire. And so, they only charged a couple of cents to cross the bridge into New Hampshire, but they charged more to go back into Vermont, knowing that more people wanted to go into New Hampshire to have their drink,” said Perkins.
“[In this particular spot] you have the Connecticut River back here and the very important manufacturing town of Windsor. So, connecting the communities on either side was very important for the movement of goods and the movement of people. Of course, the train came through. The train bridge is right south of us across the river there. So, you have the train going back and forth, so you need to move both people and goods. And, it was a great business venture. You know, put it right here and make a lot of money on those tolls,” concluded Perkins.
At ‘This Place in History’!
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