Thursday, March 8, 2001 - at 5:00 p.m. the Power House Covered Bridge collapsed under a roof-load of heavy wet snow. The top-structure crashed down onto the self-supporting bridge deck, the trusses thrown outward and into the Gihon River. Rescue crews rushed to clear the debris from the still-standing bridge deck, not knowing if anyone was trapped beneath it. Miraculously, no one was.
The Surviving Bridge Deck, or floor, is supported by steel girders and is undamaged.. When railings are installed, said Johnson Selectboard Chairman Eric Osgood, traffic can resume using the span.
From the day of the collapse, the site has had a constant stream of visitors, many of them elderly, all of them saddened by the loss. Will the bridge be restored, everyone asks. Senator Jeffords was advised of the loss and he has already offered to find funds put the old bridge back.
Historically, the bridge-owning towns hired a person each year whose job was to "snow the bridge," putting snow on the bridge floor so sleighs could get through. John Weaver, a Vermont Covered Bridge Society member and structural engineer for VTrans said that a person also was hired by the towns to see that the bridge roofs were kept clear of snow, but the practice died out when most bridges became roofed with metal--metal roofs tend to shed snow. The Power House Bridge used wooden shingles, which tend to retain snow-load, John Weaver said..
Photo taken from Route 100C, downstream from the bridge.
In this photo part of the down-stream bottom chord can be seen in the wreckage. Note the lower end of a queenpost is visible. Next to it is a large block of timber bolted to the bottom of the chord. This is the stub of the original floor beam sawed off when the bridge deck was separated from the truss to be supported by steel girders.