About This Location
The Comstock Covered Bridge, a cherished historical gem in Connecticut, is a testament to the enduring beauty and engineering excellence of covered bridges. This iconic structure connects the towns of East Hampton and Colchester, spanning gracefully across the Salmon River. With its rich history dating back to its initial construction in 1840 and a complete replacement in 1873, the Comstock Covered Bridge stands as one of only three historic covered bridges in the state of Connecticut. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on January 1, 1976 with reference number 76001978.
Situated at the junction of Colchester and East Hampton, the Comstock Bridge Road provides easy access to this enchanting relic of the past. The bridge comprises two distinctive spans, each adding to its unique charm. The primary span, measuring 80 feet, showcases a Howe truss design—an ingenious timber engineering marvel. This section features a covered gabled roof and vertical board siding, creating an intimate interior atmosphere. Pedestrian access to the bridge is thoughtfully controlled by gates placed at both ends, ensuring a tranquil and safe experience.
A secondary, uncovered span, extending 30 feet, connects the bridge to the eastern shore, offering a picturesque view of the Salmon River's serene waters. The bridge's abutments are a combination of unmortared rubblestone and cut granite, highlighting the craftsmanship and durability of its construction.
While the Comstock Covered Bridge has witnessed the passage of time and the flow of the river, it has not been without its challenges. In the 1920s, a significant incident occurred when a truck crashed through its floor, resulting in substantial damage. However, the bridge was destined to survive and thrive. In the 1930s, a dedicated team from the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) undertook a comprehensive restoration project. They breathed new life into the bridge, replacing some materials with recycled components from old buildings, adding gates at the entrances, and preserving its historical essence. The CCC's efforts ensured the bridge's continued existence and contributed to its enduring charm.
The Comstock Covered Bridge has played a vital role in connecting communities, both in the past and the present. Its legacy is deeply intertwined with the history of the area. Initially, the bridge served as an essential crossing point known as "Salmon Bridge" during the American Revolution when a legion of French cavalry camped nearby en route to join George Washington's army. Over the years, it became a hub for local mills, and the nearby settlement grew around this vital river crossing, ultimately being named "Comstock Bridge."
Despite the challenges of wooden bridges' limited lifespan and the need for multiple rebuilds, the name "Comstock Bridge" endured as a symbol of continuity and community. This iconic structure continued to serve the public for nearly six decades before being replaced in 1932 by a modern concrete bridge located downstream. It was during this time that the towns of East Hampton and Colchester transferred ownership of the bridge to the state of Connecticut, becoming an integral part of the Salmon River State Forest.
The Comstock Covered Bridge received significant attention and care through the years, ensuring its longevity. In the early 1970s, a third phase of rehabilitation took place, further reinforcing its structural integrity with steel plates and renewing its wood-shingled roof. In 2011, yet another rehabilitation effort was undertaken, preserving this historic treasure for future generations to enjoy.
The Comstock Covered Bridge represents the culmination of timber-truss engineering in the 19th century. It proudly features the Howe truss design, incorporating both iron tie rods and wooden timbers—a testament to the brilliance of its inventor, William Howe. This innovation allowed for longer spans and simplified construction, revolutionizing the world of covered bridges. The Comstock Covered Bridge stands as a testament to this technological advancement and the enduring craftsmanship of its builders.
Covered bridges have long captured the imagination of New Englanders and visitors alike. These structures were often fondly referred to as "kissing bridges," providing an intimate setting for young lovers. However, the primary purpose of covering these bridges was to protect the vital timber components from the harsh weather, extending their lifespan and ensuring their functionality. As the saying goes, "I'm dry as a covered bridge," emphasizing the comfort they provided during rain and snowstorms.
Today, the Comstock Covered Bridge remains a cherished symbol of Connecticut's rich history. It is a bridge that not only spans a river but also connects communities across time. Its presence is a testament to the resilience of covered bridges and their enduring allure. Visitors can conveniently access the bridge through a dedicated parking lot located just a stone's throw away, off Comstock Bridge Road, where the bridge stands as a testament to history and craftsmanship, waiting to be explored and admired.