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New Blenheim Covered Bridge Dedication

WGN 32-48-01 #2

June 29, 2019


Google Map of New York with state seal


North Blenheim, New York: The dedication of the replacement Blenheim Covered Bridge took place on June 29, 2019. The original bridge was built by Nichols Powers in 1855. This bridge lasted until 2011 when it was destroyed by Tropical Storm Irene.

Scott Wagner was at the dedication ceremony and provides this account of the events of the day and a history of the original and the new bridge:

Visiting the new Blenheim Covered Bridge, the day before the dedication ceremony, was the first time that I had the opportunity to walk around inside and get some closer looks at the craftsmanship. During my visit to the original bridge back in 2006, I was observing with untrained and inexperienced eyes. However, having recently done research on Col. Stephen Long’s truss design and learning more about the life of Nichols M. Powers, this latest visit was a much more meaningful. I spent a bit of time inside the bridge, admiring the trusses and the details of its design. I was especially interested in how the three-ply arch was integrated into the center truss.

Observing the bridge from outside, it is an impressive structure. It sits higher than the Route 30 bridge next to it, so it dominates the scene as you approach the historic site from either direction.

The bridge appears to be a sound structure on substantial concrete supports that hold it higher than the highest floodwaters that have ever inundated Schoharie Creek. I would liken it to a statue that was erected to commemorate someone of great importance and placed high up on a pedestal. This bridge is an impressive tribute to the great work of Nichols Powers in 1855 and it is indeed put high up onto a pedestal (or two). I commend all who were involved in making this a reality. I hope it stands for centuries to come, for many future generations to enjoy.

The dedication ceremony for the new Blenheim Covered Bridge was held on June 29, 2019, at 11:00 am. It was a pretty good turn out, with visitors from many locations. I ran into a few friends who had come from near and far to attend this momentous occasion. The weather forecast had predicted a high chance of rain but it held out until after the ceremony.

The Old Blenheim Covered Bridge was built by Nichols Montgomery Powers in 1855, it survived many floods, in 1869 a severe freshet washed out a wide channel across the western approach that was then spanned by a wooden extension. The wooden extension was replaced with an iron one, in 1895. The bridge was retired from service in 1931 and was bypassed. It was washed off its abutments during the flooding from Hurricane Irene, August 28, 2011. The pieces were scattered along the riversides and a good portion of them were retrieved but there were few that could be reused. It was the longest single span covered bridge at 210 feet. It was a rare, double barrel, 22-panel Long truss with an integrated three-ply arch in the center truss, over Schoharie Creek, in North Blenheim, Schoharie County, NY.

"The original two-lane Blenheim Bridge was built by Nichols Powers in 1855 and washed away by floodwaters associated with Hurricane Irene on August 28, 2011. 3G Construction of Holderness, New Hampshire led the timber-framing portion of the reconstruction with material provided by Lancaster County Timber Framers. A dedication of the completed structure was held on June 29, 2019. In the past, both the Blenheim and Bridgeport, California bridges have claimed to be the longest single-span covered bridges." from the Covered Spans Of Yesteryear website.

The replacement replica CB was constructed by 3G Construction, headed by Stanley Graton, with funding provided by FEMA totaling $6.7 million. The bridge sits 15 feet higher than the original. The pier in the riverbed was constructed with 600 yards of concrete.

  • As of September 23, 2017, only the pier, the north truss and the center truss have been completed.
  • As of March 19, 2018, the bridge construction is done for now. It will be completed after it is put in place, on the new abutments. The temporary platform was being constructed.
  • As of April 21, 2018, the bridge was across Schoharie Creek, next to the new abutments, on the temporary platform. The bridge was jacked up to a height exceeding that of the abutments, then it was slid sideways on steel I-beams until it was above its final alignment. The bridge was then slowly lowered into place.
  • It was resting on its new abutments by May 6, 2018.
  • As of September 22, 2018, the bridge is in place with the approach filled but unfinished.
  • NOVA produced a documentary which includes the rebuilding of the bridge, called "Operation Bridge Rescue"; it premiered on October 3, 2018 on PBS

The dedication ceremony was held on June 29, 2019. There were many in attendance and a number of speakers, including Stanley Graton (builder), Wayne Marshfield (NYSCBS President), Bill Caswell (NSPCB President), along with many other people from the area who were involved with the project.

For more history about the original bridge:


Editor's note: Thanks to Bill Caswell for his pictures. Thanks also to Scott Wagner for providing more pictures and descriptions of the ceremony. For more of Scott's pictures, visit his taken on dedication day: Facebook media set - The New Blenheim Covered Bridge.

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