poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘Nackawic River #5

in the shelter of the covered bridge – passage for horses

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Why are covered bridges covered? The usual explanation says that a covered bridge lasts longer if the wood is protected from the elements. However there are other explanations.


One of these claims the covering of the bridge made it easier to coax horses to cross the river. The horses, accustomed to entering and leaving a barn, would be less alarmed if a bridge was covered.


In the early 1900s, when most of the remaining covered bridges in New Brunswick were built, horses were still a common means of conveyance.


In my travels to study the plants and animals associated with covered bridges, I have come across three instances of the association between covered bridges and horses.


In June, while visiting the Tantramar River #2 (Wheaton Covered Bridge, built in 1916), we saw a team of horses pulling a sight-seeing group across the Tantramar marshes.


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Wheaton Covered Bridge over the Tantramar River in Westmorland County (photo taken June 2015)


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team of horses drawing a sightseeing wagon near Wheaton Covered Bridge (June 2015)


A notation in the Nackawic River #5 (Nackawic Siding Covered Bridge, built in 1927) mentions the use of the horse-drawn wagon.



Nackawic Siding Covered Bridge in York County (photo taken 2012)



notation in the Nackawic Siding Covered Bridge (photo taken 2012)


And last weekend, in the covered bridge over the Quisibis River (Quisibis River #2, Pont Lavoie, built in 1951), we found a painting of a horse. Whoever painted the horse resisted the urge to make any other black marks on the bridge walls. Clearly, he or she had a single intent – to depict the horse.


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Pont Lavoie over the Quisibis River in Madawaska County (photo taken July 2015)


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portrait of a horse, in the Quisibis River #2 Covered Bridge (photo taken July 2015)


When I close my eyes and imagine a covered bridge, I always hear the clatter of horses hooves on the wooden boards …


Copyright Jane Tims 2015


a walk through the covered bridge – Falls Brook Covered Bridge, Falls Brook on the Nackawic River

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On May 16, 1992, we visited the Falls Brook Covered Bridge in York County as part of our project on covered bridges for Canada’s 125th anniversary.  The Falls Brook Covered Bridge, on the Nackawic Siding Road at Nortondale, is also known as the Nackawic Siding Covered Bride, and is formally known as Nackawic River #5.  This means that there used to be at least four other covered bridges crossing the Nackawic River or its tributaries, but they have been lost for various reasons.

This past weekend, we visited the Falls Brook bridge again, to see if it is still there.  The sign at the end of the road was hopeful, indicating a covered bridge could be found on the road.  Most of New Brunswick’s covered bridges are marked by these signs.

My notes from 1992 said the road to the bridge was in poor shape – ‘spooky but very pretty and other-worldly’ was what I wrote.  The road has deteriorated over the years to become a narrow track with deep potholes and large outcroppings of rock.

The bridge was still there, tucked in among fir and maple woods.  It had been renovated within the last couple of years, based on the presence of some new large timbers and completely new wood siding.

The Falls Brook Covered Bridge was built in 1927.  It is 63′ long, with a span of 60′.  It is 14′ 10″ wide and has a maximum load of 8 T.  The height clearance is 4.0 m.  The architecture of the bridge is amazing, showing brace and beam construction with various hardwood joinery.

Unfortunately, the renovations have removed many of the markings we noted in 1992.  At that time, the oldest dates were a carved ‘1885’ and, in black ink, ‘Ptarmigan hunter Ray Brown May 12th 1896 Horse had bad leg’.  I have asked a well-informed birder about this and he told me there are no other records of ptarmigan in New Brunswick.   Other carvings we noted in 1992 included: ‘M.A.K.’, ‘WDH’, ‘Colin + BrenDa’, ‘Could be fishin’ ‘ , ‘D C ‘ and ‘TOGETHER AGANE Betty and Johnathan’.

The markings from the 1800s were gone, but ‘D.C.’ was still there, as well as some interesting new markings.

Some show that height is no barrier to leaving your name!

If you have covered bridges in your area, take note of the markings people have left behind!  Your record may be all that survives!


Copyright  Jane Tims  2012

Written by jane tims

September 10, 2012 at 9:03 am

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