VAN TRAN FLAT SULLIVAN COUNTY NY-53-0
Built in 1860 by John Davidson. A single span of 117′ crossing Willowemoc Creek. Displays a Town truss with an added laminated arch. Rehabilitated in 1984. From NY 17 (exit 96) go 1 mile right on old Rt. 17 and turn left onto Covered Bridge Rd. GPS: N41° 54.878′ W074° 49.899′
The Van Tran Flat Covered Bridge is one of four covered bridges still standing in Sullivan County.It is owned and maintained by the county and carries traffic across Willowemoc Creek. Travelerson Route 17 between New York and Binghamton can easily see this bridge when traveling west near Livingston Manor.
Built by John Davidson in 1860, this 117-foot-long,single span structure incorporates the Town lattice truss design patented on January28, 1820, and again in 1835 by Ithiel Town of New Haven, Connecticut, with added laminated arches. Mr. Davidson built this bridge five years before he built the Beaverkill Covered Bridge and it is the oldest of the four covered bridges in Sullivan County. The Van Tran Flat Covered Bridge is very similar in dimensions and design to other bridges in the Catskill region, all of which feature buttresses. The Van Tran Flat has four such buttresses on each side and is one of five covered bridges in New York State that has a timber approach.
The house adjacent to the bridge is the homestead of Dr. John Mott, philanthropist, Nobel peace prize winner and founder of the YMCA. Although the sign in the adjacent park near the bridge states this bridge is listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places, this is incorrect. To date, the only Sullivan County Covered Bridge listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places is the Beaverkill Covered Bridge.
Sometime after 1958, the beautiful dry-laid stone abutments supporting the bridge were refaced with concrete. In 1972, the bridge was closed and abandoned. Finally, in 1984, Sullivan County’s Department of Public Works, with technical assistance provided by Milton S. Graton from New Hampshire began the rehabilitation process. Only original construction techniques, methods and materials were used to ensure an authentic and complete restoration. All major components were reworked, including the truss, chords, floor and roof. The treenails (pronounced“trunnels”) were also replaced.
During the rehabilitation process, the Queenpost truss was removed and laminated arches were added for additional support. Sullivan County reopened the bridge in November of 1985 and should be commended for its efforts in preserving this wonderful, historic covered bridge.