poetry and prose about place

a walk through the covered bridge – Smyth Bridge, South Branch of the Oromocto River

with 14 comments

On our August drive along the South Branch of the Oromocto River, we crossed two covered bridges.  I love these bridges… they are picturesque and so pleasant to walk through.  They are also part of the local history of many communities in New Brunswick.   I’ve talked a little about covered bridges before in my Blog – please have a look at

One of the bridges we saw on this drive was the Smyth Bridge.  It crosses the South Branch of the Oromocto River, near Mill Settlement in Sunbury County  (listed as South Oromocto Rover #2 in the April 1992 pamphlet ‘Covered Bridges in New Brunswick’, no author indicated).

Inside the bridge, it is cool and dark.  When a car drives through, you hug the side, hoping the driver will see you and slow down.  I love the sound of the tires on the timbers making up the floor of the bridge.

Down-river, the shallow water of the river glows in the sun.  Most of our local rivers are the color of tea, a consequence of their origins in wetland areas.

Up-river of the Smyth Bridge is a gravel beach and water for wading and swimming.

The Smyth Bridge was built in 1912 and has a total length of 139′ 1/2 “, and a span of 136′ 1/2 “.  Its roadway width is 14′ 9”.  Its Maximum Load is 10 t (6 t for double axle vehicles) and its center clearance height is 3.7 m.

During our Covered Bridge Project for Canada’s 125th anniversary, we visited the Smyth Bridge on April 16, 1992.

In 1992, the oldest dates we could find carved into the bridge were ‘Oct 3, 1915 Sunday’ under the initials ‘R K’ (in pen or pencil) and ‘Feb 1931’ beside the initials ‘LTF’ and ‘LEIK’ to the right of three simple crosses.  There was also the totem of a face carved into the south side of the bridge, on the outside corner post.  We also found a few other initials, deeply carved: ‘M B’, ‘R H’, ‘C B’, and ‘CED  ER  May 63’.

Finding these carvings requires patience, a good flashlight and about an hour per bridge, so I didn’t check to see if any of the carvings were still there on our recent visit.  Sometimes they are lost when boards are replaced in the bridge during renovations.

I wonder if these people remember leaving their initials in the bridge so long ago?




             – initials carved on the boards of the Smyth Covered Bridge, 1931






light leaks between gable

boards, window squares cut high

river water below

sparkles in August sun


carved initials announce

the focused presence of

ghosts with knives


the clatter of tires

on timbers, as a car

rattles across the bridge



Copyright   Jane  Tims  2012

14 Responses

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  1. I love your poem, Jane. And covered bridges. We only saw a few while we were in New Brunswick. There are quite a few covered bridges not far from where I live, and we always visit a few when we go back east to see family.



    September 7, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    • Hi. We have over 60 bridges here, but they are slowly disappearing. Jane


      jane tims

      September 9, 2012 at 8:24 am

  2. It was a whole different world then, in so many ways… before the second world war…. and all that came after. There are some bridges like this in Wisconsin, where I used to live before coming to Denmark. Thanks for the post, Jane…. happy September, SB



    September 7, 2012 at 10:45 am

    • Hi. I have seen covered bridges in quite a few states. Happy September to you too! Fall is almost here! Jane


      jane tims

      September 9, 2012 at 8:23 am

  3. Thanks for this post, Jane. It took me down memory lane. When we bought our very first house (and farm) in Rusagonis in 1971, we were between 2 covered bridges, the one that’s still there and the one that was taken down in the mid-70s and later reconsructed as a feature in Covered Valley Estates. A dirt road. Quieter times.


    Jane Fritz

    September 6, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    • Hi. I didn’t know the covered bridge had been salvaged… I have a photo of my husband as a little boy fishing under that Bridge. It was gone before I moved to NB in 1978. Thanks! Jane


      jane tims

      September 7, 2012 at 8:10 am

  4. I wonder why they built the bridges covered in the first place. Do you think it might have had something to do with horses that may be spooked by the open view of the river beneath???? I love covered bridges… Some are just so beautifully constructed… The workmanship in them is fascinating.



    September 5, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    • Hi. I think they were built to keep the snow off the bridges in the winter time. The snow can get very deep and heavy. I agree they are beautiful. Jane


      jane tims

      September 6, 2012 at 7:33 am

      • I’m so glad you are revisiting these bridges. What a great record you are leaving. Sorry I’ve been held up for a few days with all sorts of things, but glad I got a chance to come back and see what you’re doing.



        September 10, 2012 at 10:30 pm

      • Hi. There are over 60 bridges in New Brunswick, so I doubt I’ll post about them all. But even though they are so similar in one way, each has its unique aspects! Glad you are back! Jane


        jane tims

        September 12, 2012 at 9:15 am

      • Hi, Jane, Things are still hectic here till the end of the year so I may disappear again now and then…but I go back and pick up the posts I missed while taking care of other things. This time of year is so very hectic, and this year I have a couple of projects on top of it.



        September 12, 2012 at 6:49 pm

      • Hi. It is a busy time of year. i am trying to finish up my project so I can submit my final report. I enjoy your comments when you have time to visit! Jane


        jane tims

        September 13, 2012 at 7:11 pm

  5. Maybe some pics of these carved initials? Looks like you guys had a nice drive. On the way to my sons place in Saint Martins, there’s a covered bridge that we just discovered in a small little hovel that is in an area that is beautiful.You guys should drive further south in the province where there are more covered bridges to explore.



    September 5, 2012 at 11:21 am

    • Hi. I actually have a map of the Kings County Bridges. It would make a good couple of days travel. We visited most of them in 1992/1993, but I’d like to revisit them twenty years later. Some have been removed… sad. Jane


      jane tims

      September 5, 2012 at 7:07 pm

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