poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘South Oromocto River #2

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

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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

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