TIMBER CROSSINGS

 

By Prof. Robert McCullough

University of Vermont Historic Preservation Program

Burlington, VT 05405

 

Introduction

 

 

Spring Road Bridge, Tunbridge, Vermont.  Photograph, 1953.

VAOT Collection

Selecting the best practices for preserving any single historic covered bridge can easily evolve into an intense focus on a narrow range of alternatives, each of which poses some undesirable result.  Vermont's covered bridge preservation plan, for example, begins with two principal goals: first, to continue using covered bridges as part of the state's network of highways; and second, to preserve historic integrity (both structural and material) to the maximum extent possible.  Those who devised this plan clearly understood that, for many bridges, service to one goal will often compromise the other.  Concerns about preserving Vermont’s covered bridges began to surface during the early 1940s, about a decade before this 1953 photograph of the Mill or Spring Road Bridge in Tunbridge, built in 1883 and destroyed by ice in 1999.

King-Post Truss, Pittsfield, Vermont.  Photograph, 1897

VHS Collection

 

When facing this conundrum, we can sometimes benefit by considering the historic context for these bridges.  A great variety of timber structures, not all of them framed, characterized roads in rural Vermont during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and this diverse collection of bridges dominate that context.  Although covered bridges have been the subject of broad public interest and scrutiny (one can find nearly a dozen books or monographs in Vermont, alone), the broader traditions of timber bridges are little-studied.  Equally important, although photographs give us some idea about the appearance of 19th century roads, we know little about local decisions governing the location, methods of construction, and maintenance of these corridors and their bridges.  In short, our view of the local landscapes in which timber bridges of all types functioned is incomplete.

     For instance, what factors influenced towns in the selection of bridge-building methods?  What was the average life span of bridges?  Did span length and, by implication, cost, dominate discussion about community investment, or did other factors contribute?  Were towns willing to build more substantial bridges at heavily traveled locations, village centers for example?  To what extent can those covered bridges that survive be characterized as common during their day?  Were these crossings simply one class of timber-framed structures among a great variety of ordinary bridges?  Or, did increasing span length signify greater engineering skill or framing methods and, if so, to what degree?

     Nor, as you may have guessed, is the matter of defining covered bridges as easy as we might think.  If we mean a covered bridge to be a timber-framed structure with protective siding and a roof, does this bridge in Pittsfield meet that definition?  If not, are the categories of ordinary timber-framed bridges to be distinguished by span length, type and depth of truss, methods of joinery, or simply the shape of protective cladding? 

 

Gateway Road, Center Rutland, Vermont.  Photograph, c. 1924.

VAOT Collection

 

Unfortunately, answers to many of these questions are elusive.  Often, the information we need is either lost or is well hidden among town records.  Whether we expand our knowledge of context for these bridges, however, can have important bearing on the best practices being considered today.  For one thing, those covered bridges that survive have acquired new cultural dimension, the unavoidable result of attaching value to artifact.  Yet does this new dimension distort our perception of what may have been simply one category of ordinary bridges?  Today, do we think of covered bridges as billboards, here advertising Paine’s Celery Compound on Gateway Road in Rutland in 1924?

     If our perceptions are distorted, does this influence our decisions concerning appropriate preservation treatments?  Ultimately, choices among various alternatives for conserving these bridges represent value judgments.  When considering these choices, what is the result of placing greater emphasis on the context of 19th and early 20th century traditions of ordinary timber bridges and rural roads, and on the landscapes they complement?  Does the need to preserve covered bridges as functioning segments of highways move more sharply into focus?  And, if so, how carefully should we weigh choices that require changes to structural or material integrity?  Finally, can we connect these concerns to the current debate about appropriate scale of highway and bridge projects in rural areas? 

 

 

Marshfield / Cabot.  Photograph, c. 1922

VAOT Collection

 

With such questions in mind, this paper is organized into three segments.  First, exploring timber bridges of all types, the ordinary structures that characterized rural highways during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, is key.  This unidentified span in either Marshfield or Cabot, photographed c. 1922, is probably typical.  Although questions outnumber answers, a sampling taken here can at least point in the direction that future study might take.

     A large photograph collection begun by the Vermont Highway Commission before World War I offers a helpful starting point.  Professional photographers were hired to document the poor condition of Vermont's roads and bridges and to publicize new construction then underway.  Unwittingly or not, these image-makers also managed to record remnants of the state's early roads - primitive turnpikes and rickety timber bridges.  This remarkable collection offers an important glimpse of overland travel in Vermont immediately prior to, and just after, arrival of the automobile.

 

 

Burr Arch-Truss, John Johnson.  Plan c. 1825

UVM Special Collections

Second, bridge designers and framers are also part of that context, influencing both the proliferation and evolution of bridge-building methods.  Much has been written about these men, and to that list we can add the name of John Johnson, millwright, builder, architect, civil engineer, and capable surveyor who lived in Burlington for much of his life, becoming surveyor general of Vermont in 1813, and again after 1830.  During the first half of the nineteenth century, and much later in some regions, professional engineers who acted as intermediaries between clients and builders were uncommon, particularly in remote parts of New England.  Thus, the very detailed plans, material specifications, bills of accounting, and exquisite renderings prepared by Johnson assume special importance.  Johnson produced at least two plans for Burr arch-trusses, including this unidentified bridge probably designed no later than 1830, that relies on double diagonals in each panel.[1]

 

 

Checkered House Bridge, Richmond.  Photograph, 1929

VAOT Collection

 

Finally, bridges of all types can be distinctive features in our landscapes, a theme that is tied to each part of this discussion.  The remarkable prevalence of bridges in landscape art and photography reinforces this argument.  The word "crossings" seems to express the visual, utilitarian, and symbolic contributions that bridges make to our villages, urban centers, and countryside, implying much more than just physical structure.  Covered bridges are one type of crossing, but an especially important type because their unusual form is so easily recognized by the public.  Thus, they become valuable in any quest to sharpen perceptions about the visual contributions provided by other types of bridges.  In turn, this leads to more informed discussion about the measure of change appropriate, today, in our transportation corridors.  In 1929, the Checkered House Bridge was replaced by this Pennsylvania truss, today known by the same name.  As you travel across the Winooski River in Richmond this week, compare the scale of these two bridges with that of the twin interstate bridges.

     The word "timber" describes a broader category of crossings, its historic meaning intended to distinguish building material from fuelwood or underwood, the latter often used for fencing or other light construction.  Over time, commoners in England's ancient nucleated villages acquired rights to collect wood for fuel or to gather what limbs or boughs could be reached by hook or by crook, possibly the origin of that phrase.  Timber, however, was coveted and usually obtained by specific grant.  That distinction remains in our language today, for we speak of wood fires but timber frames.[2]

 

Ordinary 19th Century Timber Bridges

 

 

Island Pond Road, Bloomfield, Vermont.  Photograph, 1922

VAOT Collection

 

 

Town of Pomfret, Annual Report (1860)

 

 

Town of Cavendish, Annual Report (1861)

 

Town of Chelsea, Annual Report (1889)

  During the 19th and early 20th centuries, Vermont towns built timber bridges of great variety, the simplest of which may have been stringer spans such as this example in Bloomfield, photographed in 1922.  This much we know from both images and local records.  In this state, and many other parts of New England, too, the best records of local highway and bridge building are found in annual town reports.  Accountings by treasurers or selectmen appear in hand-written summaries of town meetings before mid-century, but printed reports begin to appear by 1850, earlier in some regions. Information supplied ranges from the very sketchy to moderately detailed accounts, such as that in Chelsea in 1889, to precise summaries such as that for the 1861 Duttonsville Bridge in Cavendish.[3] 

 

Brahana Bridge, Lowell, Vermont.  Photograph, 1923

      More important, by scanning a broad sampling of these records, we can cautiously draw several conclusions.  One is that the costs of building and maintaining bridges represented a substantial part of town budgets.  Another is that practicality often governed, and many towns opted to build bridges cheaply and quickly, knowing that rebuilding would be necessary in five or ten years, possibly sooner.  In truth, few taxes were levied more regularly than for the rebuilding or repairing of bridges.  Timber crib abutments stationed well into river beds, necessarily so to limit span lengths, proved vulnerable to flooding, and freshets took a yearly toll.  Thus, very simple king and queen-post truss bridges, as often as not employing iron tension rods rather than king-posts, became common - built and rebuilt with frequency.  This example is in Lowell, pictured in 1923 shortly before its replacement.  Builders and town officials sometimes used the terms “rafter truss” or “open bridge” to describe these structures.[4]

 

 

Town Lattice Truss – Unidentified Location.  Photograph c. 1922

VAOT Collection

 

At the same time, however, a very practical outlook may have also led to recognition that more permanent structures proved less expensive over the long haul at important crossings - village centers or mill sites, for example.  The location of the Town lattice truss depicted in this 1922 image is unidentified, but its relationship to the adjoining mill seems clear.  The longer the span, the greater the depth of trusses and the more complicated the joinery.  In addition, increased truss depth required greater lateral reinforcement, adding complexity to the structure.  Roof and sides became the essential means to protect community investment. Insurance became another, and local records indicate that towns owning expensive timber bridges had begun to insure them by the 1880s, probably earlier.  That some bridges have survived for more than a century is ample evidence of this frugal outlook.[5]

 

Park Street, Black River Falls, Springfield, Vermont. c. 1870

UVM Special Collections

      Yet concluding that such bridges quickly became standard is risky.  Consider, for instance, Park Street above the Black River Falls in the center of Springfield.  There, one of the state's first iron truss bridges, designed to Charles Parker's 1870 patent, was erected in 1869 to replace a timber bridge destroyed by flooding.  The city paid Parker $3,526.00, a substantial sum suggesting a desire by city officials to purchase durability and a willingness to innovate.  However, the bridge was destroyed that same year by another flood and replaced by a timber bridge, probably this multiple king-post span reinforced by large struts and presumably the least expensive option.  Here is an example of reliance on a well-tested and economical bridge type at a substantial crossing (about seventy feet), above a principal river, and at a frequently traveled site.  Here, too, may be a rare example of an iron bridge being replaced by a timber span.[6]

    

 

Davis Bridge across the Deerfield River, Whitingham Depot, Vermont

Photograph by Frank Crosier, 1920.  VHS Collection

 

Is the Springfield bridge an aberration, the result of an unfortunate but unlikely sequence of events?  Should we conclude that at most principal crossings, longer spans dictated the use of more substantial and complex timber framing requiring protective roof and sides?  Possibly, but there is also much evidence to suggest that open bridges were adapted to spans approaching sixty or seventy feet. 

 

Multiple King-Post Truss.  Unidentified Location.  Photograph  c. 1935

VAOT Collection

 

Two examples are revealing; one, probably a Queen-post design, is in Whitingham Depot.  The location of the second is unidentified but missing siding reveals what is probably a multiple king-post design with truss timbers tripled in breadth.

     Both images suggest the presence of another influence, railroads, that also shaped the context for 19th century timber bridges.  As transportation networks improved, both travel and travel loads increased, demanding greater structural capacity.  Initially, Vermont's railroads built bridges almost exclusively with timber, introducing more sophisticated truss systems and emphasizing the importance of carefully built stone abutments and piers.[7]

    

 

Heineberg Bridge, Winooski River, Colchester Point, Vermont.  Henry R. Campbell, Engineer.  Constructed 1860.  VAOT Collection

 

     Towns benefited from these advances.  For example, the Central Vermont Railroad began building its lines in 1846, and the company retained Henry R. Campbell as chief engineer.  Campbell at first relied extensively on Howe trusses but, by 1851, reported to stockholders that arch reinforcing had become necessary.  When hired by the towns of Colchester and Burlington, however, Campbell confidently assured his clients that a Howe truss would be adequate for crossing the Winooski River at Colchester Point.  The Heineberg Bridge opened in 1860, three hundred feet in two spans, and remained in service until 1935.[8]

John Johnson

 

Town Falls, Winooski River, Colchester and Burlington, Vermont.  John Johnson, Engineer.  1816.  UVM Special Collections

 

Although records offer scant proof, it is unlikely that many local bridges were built to carefully detailed plans during most of the nineteenth century.  Instead, builders probably reached informal agreements with towns, satisfying the latter by dint of reputation.  Thus, the drawings of John Johnson assume special importance.  Born in Canterbury, New Hampshire, in 1771, Johnson moved to northwestern Vermont at age nineteen and by 1809 had settled in Burlington.  In addition to his responsibilities as the state's Surveyor General, he also served briefly as superintendent for part of the boundary survey conducted by the United States and Canada.  His son, Edwin Ferry Johnson, also achieved a successful career, becoming chief engineer of the Northern Pacific Railroad.

     The elder Johnson's skills and occupations extended well beyond surveying and included the design of mechanical structures as well as buildings.  Public and private patrons retained him to develop plans and specifications for a wide variety of building types, among them mills, dams, barns, houses, and at least one church.  His bridge plans are professional-quality drawings (most in ink, some with watercolor) and include carefully itemized specifications for timber and other materials, written instructions concerning milling of the timber and its assembly, and accountings of the costs.

     An 1816 plan for a bridge across the Onion River at Winooski Falls, between Burlington and Colchester, is among the oldest of Johnson's surviving timber-frame designs.  Sets of rafter trusses, as he called them, provide support for the three-span crossing (57 feet clear span).  Johnson called for a structure twenty-four feet wide, sufficient to accommodate two travel lanes divided by one set of the trusses.  Trestles sheathed in wooden planks separate spans of the 228 foot bridge.  Truss timbers, keys, and treenails are white oak; remaining timber is white pine.[9]

 

 

Timber Cantilever, Waterford, Vermont.  Undated / Unbuilt.  John Johnson, Engineer.  UVM Special Collections

Johnson also appears to have experimented with a two-span cantilever structure, each span 112 feet.  The bridge was apparently destined for Waterford, but the plan is marked "obsolete."[10]

 

Burr Arch-Truss, Hubbell’s Falls, Essex, Vermont.  John Johnson, Engineer.  1825

UVM Special Collections

       Johnson produced plans for timber bridges in a number of Vermont towns, including Essex, Cambridge, Berkshire, and Milton, as well as several bridges in other states.  Although some plans are undated, most were probably drawn between 1816 and 1831.  Several are for covered bridges, including a two-span Burr arch/truss at Hubbell’s Falls in Essex, dated May and June 1825.  True to Burr's design, Johnson carried the arches to the piers and abutments rather than simply tying them to the bottom chords (the latter sometimes occurring in Vermont) and again employed two travel lanes divided by a center arch and truss.  Both spans of the Hubbell’s Falls bridge, one a little more than 101 feet, the other 80 feet, employ multiple king-post trusses with the Burr arches.[11]

    

 

Bridge Timber Reserve Bill, Essex Bridge. John Johnson, Engineer.  1825

 

    

 

Bill of Expenses, Essex Bridge.  John Johnson, Engineer.

UVM Special Collections

 

A joint bill of timber and list of expenses for a bridge and toll house at Essex, audited on January 1, 1827, are probably for the same structure.  The latter indicates that John, Caleb, and Hosea Munson were among those paid for purchasing and framing the timber.   

 

Rafter Truss, John Johnson, Engineer.  c. 1816

UVM Special Collections

Johnson's plans also contribute to our discussion about ordinary 19th century timber bridges.  His design for another open, four-span bridge, 240 feet in length but location not identified, is developed with the same attention to detail given to the slightly larger Hubbell’s Falls bridge.  Presence of protective cladding on the latter may be explained by the differences in span length (51 vs. 80 and 101), and the added complexity (and vulnerability) of joinery.  Or, are other factors at work?  Did one town simply ask its engineer, as towns today so often do, to produce plans for the least expensive option?  In either case, there seems to be little difference in the engineering effort devoted to each.  Again, answers to these questions are elusive, but Johnson's plans make it difficult for us to discount a variety of 19th century timber bridges as either temporary or primitive.[12]      

 

 

Crossings

 

 

St. Johnsbury and Lake Champlain Railroad, Cambridge, Vermont.

      Whether ordinary or heroic, bridges often stand apart from their surroundings, becoming distinct landscape features in the process.  These are very separate structures serving a single, specific function.  Elements of appearance - shape, mass, curve, angle, wall plane, contrast of solid and void, texture, color - all merge to create building forms that can dominate and thus transform their settings.  The cross movement of corridors, stream or road below and bridge above, as well as the distinct areas of space created in each, also contribute.  Thus, bridges can be observed in several ways: from within a highway corridor; in elevation from the corridor below; and in close or distant perspective, combining the first two.  Views from each vantage point can be markedly different.  Railroad bridges can be especially prominent features, this example once belonging to the St. Johnsbury and Lake Champlain Railroad in Cambridge.

     Granted, few people pause during daily routine to consider the reasons why bridges are such visually distinctive structures. Only do unusual types of crossings, covered bridges among them, manage to capture the public's eye consistently and thus offer opportunities to expand visual acuity.  Public recognition that bridges can be distinctive landscape features is a beginning point in what often becomes a complicated dialogue about highway and bridge design.  The subtlety of this argument is easily lost in public debate where matters of cost and safety tend to dominate discussion.[13]

     View of Rutland, Vermont (1840). Asher B. Durand.  Nevertheless, the consistent appearance of bridges in landscape art and photography helps to reinforce these ideas.  True, some bridges capture attention simply because they are dramatic crossings.  Many, however, are depicted by artists not as objects of beauty but as ordinary structures complementing a panoramic scene.  Many provide specific functions in evolving theories of landscape art. Some, for example, are central focal points, part of formal composition essential to nineteenth century picturesque themes. 

     Among Hudson River School artists, Asher B. Durand often depicted the relationship between humankind and nature in terms of pastoral harmony.  His "View of Rutland, Vermont, 1839-40," was probably painted from a point about a mile west of the village.  The figures on the knoll in the left foreground converse and observe, pointing to evidence of human possibility. Nature looms large in surrounding mountains and in shadows suggesting the presence of forests close behind the figures.  Yet the setting is a tranquil one.  Mountains are cloaked in haze, subdued and unthreatening.  The river, possibly the Otter Creek, is tame, and the newly-built bridge that crosses it symbolically frames a gateway into this Arcadian valley.[14]

     Mount Mansfield, Jericho. Charles Louis Heyde. 

     The influence of Hudson River school painters remained strong during the coming decades, and Vermont's agrarian landscapes proved inviting to a number of artists, among them Charles Louis Heyde. Heyde's paintings span the years between 1857 and 1892, and many depict views of Mount Mansfield.  Several mark a favored vantage point in Jericho along the Brown's River. In one work, undated, a small, timber bridge serves as a focal point in the foreground, the most visible human structure. The homestead is cloaked in shadow, but the road leads to open, sunlit fields and other farmsteads in the distance.  A carefully developed symmetry between the natural and the man-made dominates the painting, and Heyde uses the bridge to help attain this balance, symbolically crossing from one to the other.

     Winooski River High Bridge. Charles Louis Heyde. 

     In many of Heyde's later paintings, the balance between the natural and the man-made shifts and the latter is drawn more sharply into focus, aided by greater realism.  This outlook is revealed in the "Winooski River High Bridge," once again undated. Here, a covered bridge is the sole evidence of human enterprise, and it spans a rocky gorge.  Heyde isolates the natural and the man-made in stark contrast, the vigor of each clearly expressed. In the process, the bridge's utility quickly becomes clear.  It visually dominates the setting, safely above the reach of nature's forces. Yet the presence of nature is also forceful, suggested by the canyon's spectacular view and by luminism, or colored light, in the sky behind the bridge and in the water.[15]

     This trend toward realism was also spurred by the growing popularity of photography, an invention that influenced both artist and patron. Stereographs, photographic images placed in a viewer to augment depth of field, became fashionable, partly because they revealed clarity of detail that had been missing from paintings.  In addition, the camera easily captured an infinite variety of subjects, enlarging both the breadth and versatility of composition in the process. 

 

Winooski River High Bridge, A.F. Styles.  Undated

 

     Among the many photographers who explored Vermont scenery during this period, A. F. Styles of Burlington was especially prolific.  Compare, for example, his image of the High Bridge above the Winooski River, probably photographed no later than 1870, with Heyde's painting of the same structure.  The bridge is now well in the background, and contrast between the natural and the man-made is no longer a central theme.  Instead, the ability of the camera to capture the mirror-like surface of the water is dominant, and an aura of reflected light bathes the figure of a girl at the river's edge. Patterns of light, too, strongly hint at the quiet flow of water beneath the surface, its current slowly pulling one's eye toward the distant channel beneath the bridge.[16]

    

 

Battenkill River, Manchester Depot.  Post Card c. 1912

 

     Landscape photography also became an easy method to advance the cause of tourism.  Moreover, economic opportunity for photographers lingered long after sightseers had arrived.  Post cards were purchased by the millions, many to be mounted in parlor albums where travels could be relived again and again.  The selling of landscape became a business, with highways and bridges playing principal roles.  As automobiles began to roll across the American scene in ever-increasing numbers, post cards became the perfect symbols for a new era of tourism.

 

St. Johnsbury, Vermont.  Post Card c. 1912

 

     Post cards also offered local photographers a chance to learn the art of selling landscape - to unerringly recognize those settings that could be marketed successfully.  These were quick lessons, too, because cards were often displayed locally at village stores or corner markets.  The consistency with which photographers turned to images of bridges is remarkable.  In some scenes, bridges are recognized simply because they dominate their settings.[17] 

 

Grafton, Vermont.  Post Card c. 1930

      Yet photographers also knew that even modest bridges can transform ordinary scenery.  Here, the crossing is a portal to a small valley in Grafton, and the image-maker seems as intent on the bridge itself as on offering the viewer a suggestion of what lies beyond.  In nearly every possible way, the composition contrasts sharply with that of St. Johnsbury.  Yet crossings are principal to both.

 

“At the Bridge.” Wallace K. Nutting, Vermont Beautiful.  1922

      Motor-touring quickly changed both the pace and reach of travel.  Although landscape photography continued to reveal Vermont's pastoral countryside as a melding of built and natural environments, vantage points were imagined to be those of roving motorists.  In 1922, an influential photographic documentary, Wallace K. Nutting's Vermont Beautiful, aimed its appeal at automobile travelers.  Many of the book's views are from roads, and more than a few focus on bridges, including one titled "Hill Stream Bridge."[18]  

 

Kettle Bridge, Eden.  Photograph, 1922

      The influence of landscape photography during this period of emerging automobile travel extended well beyond the goals of tourism and touched very ordinary activities. Road-building began in earnest after World War I, and construction continued unabated during the 1920s and 1930s.  The state highway board turned to photographers to aid in project planning. Some were professionals, including Mack Derick of Orleans, and their work, and that of others influenced by them, reveals an appreciation for scenic landscapes.  In truth, many of their images focus more on setting than on details of a particular structure or road.  In some, remarkably, bridges appear almost overlooked.

     Consider, for example, a 1922 image of the Kettle Bridge in Eden by an unknown photographer, possibly Mack Derrick.  The small, tumbledown wooden span is the subject of concern.  Yet the picture offers few details of the bridge and instead is a carefully composed landscape study.  The highway, bordered by fences and pasture, moves sequentially from the foreground to the center of the image where the bridge has been placed.  The road then disappears behind trees that shelter the brook, and hills rise in the distance, providing a verdant backdrop.  Yet the silhouette of the most prominent tree is clearly visible against the sky.

 

“Old Wooden Bridge,” Aldro T. Hibbard

      Landscape artists and photographers continued to incorporate bridges into their art throughout the twentieth century, all the while pursuing increasingly creative avenues of expression.  Inventive uses of color and form merged with a multitude of influences.  Some artists revived earlier landscape traditions – the picturesque on a grand scale.  Others developed abstract representations of pure form, line, or space; some turned, instead, to painstaking realism.  More than a few remained content to interpret landscapes in a very unaffected manner, returning to themes of harmony between human and natural environments.  The paintings of Aldro Hibbard, for example, often limit evidence of human activity.  Yet bridges figure prominently in his work, simple testimony to the unique visual effect of a structure spanning moving water. Here, the painting is titled simply “Old Wooden Bridge.”[19]

Conclusion

 

Waterville, Vermont.  Photograph by Jim Healy, 1961.

VAOT Collection

      This small sampling of paintings and photographs barely introduces this vast topic.  Regardless of the period or genre of landscape art, however, at least two contributions of the artist are valuable to the discussion about bridge and highway projects.  The first is the practiced skill of observing landscapes.  The second is the intuitive understanding that certain features, bridges among them, make strong visual contributions to the whole.  For those who are charged with making decisions about our modern highways and bridges, recognition that changes to very legible parts of our landscapes can weaken awareness of our surroundings is crucial.  Covered bridges can play an important role in that quest for understanding, and so, too, can the artists and photographers who have long studied these subjects.  Transportation Agency photographer Jim Healy captured these two artists at work in Waterville in 1961, a quiet setting for future study. 

 

 


Endnotes



[1] The John Johnson records are held at the University of Vermont Special Collections, Bailey Howe Library. See Oversize Maps and Surveys, Folder 10, Plan 127.

 

[2] The origins and period of the phrase “by hook or by crook” are not certain, and written evidence does not appear until the fourteenth century.  See Ihor Evans, ed., Brewers Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, 1981 ed., 564, and Oxford English Dictionary, 7:365.

 

[3] Town of Pomfret, Annual Report (1860), 4; Town of Cavendish, Annual Report (1861), 14-15; Town of Chelsea, Annual Report (1889), 13.

 

[4] For a reference to rafter trusses, see the John Johnson Collection, University of Vermont Special Collections, Folder 10 (Oversize Maps and Surveys), Plan 126, “Winooski Falls.”  In an 1816 agreement between Frederick Brewster, representing the towns of Burlington and Colchester, and Eli Bernard of Burlington, to construct a bridge across the Onion River, Bernard agreed to build a bridge with “two Roadways, with four Rafter trusses in the middle between the Roadways, and four Rafter trusses on each side.”

  See also Matt Bushnell Jones, History of the Town of Waitsfield. 1782-1908 (Boston, Massachusetts: George E. Littlefield, 1909), 36-37.

 

[5] Town of Pittsford, Annual Report (1889), 3.

 

[6] In the fall of 1870, the town of Springfield paid for several teams to collect (retrieve?) an iron bridge, presumably the Parker truss.  See Town of Springfield, Annual Reports (1871), 7-19; and (1873), 7-9.  See also Mary Eva Baker, Folklore in Springfield (Springfield, Vermont: published by the author, 1922), 28-30, and Frederick W Richardson, Nineteenth Century Springfield. From an Agricultural to Industrial Community (Springfield, Vermont: Springfield Printing Corporation, 2000), 190-92, 220.  The accounts by Baker and Richardson do not agree, but town records seem to favor the former.

 

[7] Vermont Central Railroad Company, Sixth Annual Report (1851), 15.

 

[8] Vermont Central Railroad Company, Sixth Annual Report (1851), 15.  For the Heineberg Bridge, see City of Burlington, Annual Reports (March 6, 1860): 66-67, and (March 5, 1861): 75.  Although the bridge survived the 1927 flood, its structure was weakened.

 

[9] See Oversize Maps and Surveys, Folder 10, Plan 126, John Johnson Collection, University of Vermont Special Collections.

 

[10] For the cantilever bridge, see Folder 10, Plan 124; John Johnson Collection, University of Vermont Special Collections.

 

[11] See Oversize Maps and Plans, folder 10, Plan 123; see also Carton 5, Folder 46; John Johnson Collection, University of Vermont Special Collections.

 

[12] It is conceivable that plans for the longer bridge represent a modification to the original design of the Winooski Falls bridge. See Oversize Maps and Surveys, Folder 10, Plan 128, John Johnson Collection, University of Vermont Special Collections.

 

[13] George Sweetman, The Artist and the Bridge (Aldershot, Hants (England): Ashgate Publishing Limited, 1999), Preface, 1-15, 88, and 95.  Sweetman, an English art historian, suggests that bridges are among Western civilization’s most representative and democratic building forms, a view demonstrated by the consistency with which bridges appear in European art.

 

[14] Montclair (New Jersey) Art Museum, A.B. Durand. 1796-1886, 54-55. For a recent work on the Hudson River School artists, see: Sandra S. Phillips and Linda Weintraub, eds., Charmed Places. Hudson River Artists and Their Houses, Studios, and Vistas.

 

[15] William C. Lipke, "Places of Delight. Mount Mansfield and Lake

Champlain. Major Motifs in the Paintings of Charles Louis Heyde,"

in Charles Louis Heyde. Nineteenth-Century Vermont Landscape Painter,

Nancy P. Graff and E. Thomas Pierce, eds., 20-27.

 

[16] For a general discussion of Style's contribution, see: William Lipke, "Changing Images of the Vermont Landscape," in Vermont Landscape Images 1776-1976, William C. Lipke and Philip N. Grime, eds. (Burlington, Vermont: Robert Hull Fleming Museum, 1976), 40.

 

[17] Allen F. Davis, Postcards from Vermont. A Social History. 1905-1945 (Hanover, New Hampshire: University Press of New England, 2002), 1-13.

 

[18] William Lipke, "Changing Images of the Vermont Landscape," in Vermont Landscape Images 1776-1976, William C. Lipke and Philip N. Grimes, eds. (Burlington, Vermont: Robert Hull Fleming Museum, 1976), 41-44.

 

[19]John L. Cooley, A.T. Hibbard. N.A. Artist in Two Worlds (Concord, New Hampshire: Rumford Press, 1968).