Scenic USA - New York

Newfield Covered Bridge

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Newfield Covered Bridge - Newfield, New York

Photos by Ben Prepelka
Scenic USA Artist Website

     Built in the 1850s, the Newfield Bridge is the oldest covered bridge in New York State that still supports daily traffic. Although a fire in 1875 destroyed most of Newfield’s records, it is known that stone masons Benjamin Starr and Dick Russell laid the bridge abutments in the very early 1850s. Working for a dollar a day, carpenter Samuel Hamm and his sons continued with a lattice truss design. At the time, the price of lumber was six dollars per 1000 feet, placing the total cost of the 115 foot bridge at 800 dollars. Even though the lattice truss plans called for lighter timbers, they still proved to provide excellent strength and lasting reliability.
     As with any covered bridge, roofing materials and siding needed replaced at times, but the support trusses of the 100 year old year old bridge endured. Still in all, because of heavier loads and increased traffic, Tompkins County officials considered replacing the covered bridge with a concrete and steel bridge in the late 60s. The first response came from resident Marie Musser, emphatically stating, "Over my dead body."
     Today, a memorial plaque honors Marie and Grant Musser for actively pursuing the preservation of the Newfield Covered Bridge. New Hampshire bridge experts, Milton S. Graton and sons were called in for restoration in 1972, raising the entire bridge a foot, increasing the height of the portal entrances and adding two additional trusses. By 1998, a large scale restoration included abutment and bank stabilization, new decking and roofing, a pedestrian bridge, the Musser overlook and picnic area. As you can see, the Musser's persistence has paid off and Newfield residents still enjoy having their historic landmark.

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