For Old Span a Rite of Passage
April 2007
by Barbara Gref in The Towne Crier

Beaverkill Covered Bridge is on the way to the National Register.

BEAVERKILL -- RW would be pleased, so would Sal, Amanda, Val and Lynne.  Carri and Tim, whose names appear inside a heart, would be especially happy.

Those who, over the decades, have etched their names into the 140-year-­old lattice work of the Beaverkill Covered Bridge are more likely than ever now to reach their goal of hand­carved immortality.

Last week, the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation announced that the Beaverkill Covered Bridge has been listed on the New York State Register of Historic Places and that it will now move on to be reviewed for placement on the National Register. Some 53 properties across the state have been newly recommended for the register; the Beaverkill Covered Bridge is one of them.

By definition, the State and National Registers of Historic Places are the official lists of properties recognized as significant in the history, architecture, archeology, engineering or culture of the state and the nation.

If the Beaverkill Covered Bridge now makes it onto the National Register, it will become the first covered bridge in Sullivan County to be listed. It would join the three stone arch bridges -- one at Kenoza Lake, one in Hankins and one in Tusten -- that are already on the register.
What that means, said John Adams, who helped with the long process of getting the bridge listed, is that the bridge will be maintained and preserved. "In all likelihood, 'it will last into perpetuity," he said.

According to Adams, who lives near the bridge and can almost see it from his house the preservation of the bridge was part of the larger effort among various residents to see to it that historic aspects of the Beaverkill Valley were preserved.

The Friends of Beaverkill Community worked to preserve the Beaverkill Church and they worked to make sure the Craigie Clair iron truss bridge over the Beaverkill was rebuilt with history and aesthetics in mind.

They also rallied behind the Beaverkill Covered Bridge. "The community got together and they really worked at getting the bridge protected," said Adams.

Now that the bridge is listed on the state register, it is a protected propery plus it becomes eligible for funds aimed at restoration.

The bridge is one of only two crossings in the Upper Beaverkill Valley, so it is an important part of the local transportation system.

Back when it was built by local carpenter John Davidson, the bridge was a critical transportation link for tie numerous tanneries in the valley. The logging industry was at a peak in the valley at that time and recreation ponds at a favored spot for angling and camping, and today the Beaverkill campsite is there. It's one of the oldest in the state.

The covered bridge is built in the town truss lattice style, a style known for its relative strength.  The bridge has been threatened in the past when some sought to replace it with a more modern bridge. But always someone spoke up to save it.

The bridge’s fate came to the fore recently during the discussion of the reconstruction of the Craigie Clair bridge, a few miles down river from the covered bridge.

The Town of Rockland commissioned the covered bridge back in 1865, but in recent years the county has maintained it. Now, under the new plan, the state will care for the bridge. It makes sense, said Town of Rockland Supervisor Patricia Pomeroy, because the state owns the property on either side of the covered bridge.

Another bonus of the plan is that it includes a provision for the bridge to remain open for automobile traffic, said Pomeroy, who has seen many a covered bridge that's been closed to use.

But for those who worked on the project, the bottom line is that the bridge is now protected.

"There are not a whole lot of them around," Pomeroy said of the bridge. The listing, she said; "means that that bridge will always stand ... and that's important.”

A celebration of the historic register listing. is planned for later, this spring or for the summer.



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