poetry and prose about place

in the shelter of the covered bridge – messages left in the bridge

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On our latest drive to see the covered bridges in the watershed of the St. John River, we visited four bridges near Sussex.


The Urney Covered Bridge (Trout Creek #4) is a relatively small bridge (20.1 meters in length) built in 1905.



The Urney Covered Bridge (Trout Creek #4) in Kings County. New Brunswick


The water of Trout Creek is clear and cold – at one end of the bridge is a small sandy beach. The bottom of the stream is mottled with bands of pink bedrock.



sandy beach along the Trout Creek, at the Urney Bridge 2015


When my husband and I visit a covered bridge, we look for three things.  First, we look at the structure of the bridge (is the roof sheathed in metal or cedar shingles? what is the roof type? do the timbers show signs of damage?). Next, we look at the plant life growing in, on and around the bridge, and any signs of animals using the bridge.  Then, we look at the markings on the bridge.



The roof of the Urney Bridge is rafter construction with a ridge board. The roof is sheathed in metal.


Markings tend to be of three types: carving, paint and chalk.  To me, some of these markings are more destructive than decorative – spray paint in various shades of fluorescent paint is more and more common.  Carvings made in the wood with knives or other sharp instruments seem more decorative to me.  Chalk is more ephemeral. All have historical statements to make.  I think the spray paint is a commentary on ‘modern’ times – a tendency to choose the quick and easy.  Carvings take effort and are characteristic of a less time-constrained age.  All these ‘tags’ tell a story.  The stories I like the best include initials, an indication of relationship and a date (J. T. + G. T. 2015).



A symbol in spray paint on the Urney Bridge.


Some of the messages left in a bridge are unique.  I like the simple carving below. Perhaps it is meant to represent a house or the covered bridge itself.  It looks unfinished, as though the carver was interrupted, or meant to return to finish the carving.  To me it is a portrayal of the importance of shelter in all our lives.



simple carving of a shelter on the Urney Covered Bridge 2015


Copyright  2015  Jane Tims


Written by jane tims

June 22, 2015 at 7:17 am

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