What the New York State Covered Bridge Society is all about…
In recent years, as the old wooden truss bridges began disappearing from the scene, interest in them has increased. Covered bridge enthusiasts have organized groups devoted to covered bridge lore. One such group, currently over 500 members from 27 states and 3 foreign countries, is the New York State Covered Bridge Society (NYSCBS), which was formed in 1966 to bring these enthusiasts together to help preserve the old historic covered spans. Other purposes of the Society are: to work with local communities interested in saving bridges, to collect information on all New York State covered bridges and, to make such historical information available to its members.
In the fall of 1997, it was decided that the New York State Covered Bridge Society would attempt to get the remaining, original covered bridges in the state put onto the national Register Of Historic Places. Seven covered bridges were already listed on the NROHP. The application for the Copeland Bridge was our first venture. It went before the New York State evaluation board and IT WAS ACCEPTED! The bridge was deemed "Historically Significant." It was then sent on to the National Register in Washington, DC to be judged. At that level, it too was accepted. Hopefully with permission of the owners of the bridges, the NYSCBS will be successful in adding more New York bridges to the Register. (Note: we have been successful with every application since this was first written in
1997. All historic covered bridges in New York are now on the National
The Society holds meetings, usually on the second Sunday of each month, from March through November. MEETINGS These meetings are held in various sites throughout the state. Normally, one meeting will be a "safari" where members visit several bridges during a weekend outing. Past "safaris" have been in Washington County, PA; Ashtabula County, OH, New Hampshire and Vermont; etc. Newsletters are sent to all members, before meeting dates, giving location and directions for reaching the meeting place. Also included in the Newsletter is information received about bridges and a report of the business conducted at the previous meeting. The EMPIRE STATE COURIER, the official publication of the Society, is published annually. Through this are shared: pictures of bridges and bridge related items, interesting stories about covered bridges, information on bridges that no longer exist, as well as, the old covered spans that are in daily use and those that are by-passed and still standing.
The demands of modern traffic has almost eliminated the covered wooden bridges that were familiar to travelers of the horse and buggy era. Still standing on the byways and country roads of New York State, however, are a number of these romantic symbols of the past. In the early days, when timber was more abundant and less expensive than it is today, wood was a common and appropriate material for bridge building. (Many still think it is, as several states have begun building covered bridges again. Most notable in this regard is the State of Ohio.) The covered bridge met the requirements of its time with a high degree of efficiency and economy. The long, useful life of these bridges testifies to their excellence. Today's travelers frequently wonder why the bridges were covered? Some of the very earliest wooden bridges were not, and it soon was discovered that the supportive timbers and complex joints were susceptible to the effects of rain and sun, and quickly deteriorated if left exposed. The side boards and floor were replaceable, but it was vital to protect the trusses of the bridge. A roof was used and found to accomplish this, resulting in prolonging the usefulness of the covered bridge for innumerable years.
The most outstanding and unique covered bridge in New York is the old Blenheim Bridge over the Schoharie Creek at North Blenheim. This is the longest single span covered bridge in the world (219 feet of clear span, two feet longer than a structure in California). It is also one of only six two-lane or "double-barrel" bridges still in existence in the united States. It is an example of Long Truss with arch. We use this bridge on our logo. Be sure to view the photos of the bridges. If you have time, visit our Links Page, be sure to bookmark it for later visits. Numbers of the bridges are derived from the World Guide of Covered Bridges. This numbering system uses the initials of the state, a two-number sequence to indicate the county within the state, then a number to indicate the sequence of numbering of the bridges within that county.
All in all, it sounds like a lot of fun, doesn't it?!? For just a few dollars - wouldn't you like to become a Member of the Society? The camaraderie is great, you'll build friendships that will last a lifetime, you'll help preserve historic structures, and who knows - might even learn something while having fun along the way!