About This Location
The Arthur A. Smith Covered Bridge, nestled in the picturesque town of Colrain, Massachusetts, stands as an enduring symbol of history and engineering excellence. This historic covered bridge, spanning an impressive 100 feet in length, proudly carries Lyonsville Road across the serene waters of the North River. Its grandeur is further accentuated by its substantial width, measuring 18 feet, which accommodates a single lane of traffic.
What truly sets the Arthur A. Smith Covered Bridge apart is its distinctive architectural feature—it is the sole Burr truss bridge in the entire state of Massachusetts. The Burr truss design, renowned for its durability and strength, attests to the bridge's remarkable engineering.
The bridge's narrative begins in 1869 when it was initially constructed. However, its location placed it in a vulnerable position, susceptible to periodic flooding. The year 1878 brought a catastrophic flood that wrought extensive damage upon the bridge, leaving it in a state of disrepair. For nearly two decades, it languished in abandonment, a silent testament to the unpredictable forces of nature.
In 1896, the people of Colrain, recognizing both the historical and practical significance of the bridge, made the decision to embark on a mission of restoration. The bridge underwent a meticulous and heartfelt reconstruction effort, and it was subsequently relocated to its present location. Here, it took on a new role, serving as an integral component of the main road to Heath, Massachusetts.
One of the most striking visual elements of the Arthur A. Smith Covered Bridge is the graceful and sweeping segmented timber arches that embrace the braced posts. These arches, working in harmony with the ten braced king posts, create a symphony of design and strength, embodying the spirit of 19th-century craftsmanship.
The bridge's history is also marked by resilience. In 1982, it was temporarily removed from service and relocated to adjacent land. Nevertheless, a remarkable resurgence occurred in 2007, with an extensive rebuilding effort amounting to $2.1 million. The recreated Arthur A. Smith Covered Bridge was reintroduced, spanning the North River once more. While it did not return to its original vehicular service, it stands as a testament to preservation and dedication.
Even in the face of natural disasters, the bridge displayed its tenacity. During the record flooding caused by Hurricane Irene in 2011, the Arthur A. Smith Covered Bridge sustained only minimal damage. This resilience can be attributed to its strategic placement on abutments that elevate it high above the surrounding floodplain.
Today, the Arthur A. Smith Covered Bridge remains not only a practical means of traversing the North River but also a tangible link to the past. Its enduring presence reminds us of the unwavering commitment of those who worked tirelessly to safeguard this iconic piece of history. It stands as one of the precious few 19th-century covered bridges in the state of Massachusetts, a testament to the enduring legacy of a bygone era.