TheLand of Rip Van Winkle

Friday, September 16, 2016

Leeds Bridge

This bridge at first glance appears to be a stone arch that dates to 1775. The overall visual appearance of the bridge, combined with a plaque on the bridge which says the "original bridge" was built in 1775 and "restored" in 1937 seem to suggest this. However, the bridge is quite wide (30 foot roadway), and in the National Bridge Inventory is listed as a concrete arch built in 1825 and rehabilitated in 1937. After a closer examination of the NBI data and the bridge itself, it appears that in 1775 a bridge was first built at this location. In 1825, the bridge was replaced with a stone arch. In 1937, the stone arch was replaced with a concrete arch bridge. The concrete arch bridge was wider but kept the same arch shape as the stone arch bridge, and the stones from the 1825 bridge were placed on the spandrel walls of the bridge (and the parapets reused also), so that the concrete arch bridge looks like the stone arch bridge. Assuming this is all true, the 1825 bridge obviously does not have historic integrity. However, the 1937 alteration, apparently designed to try to retain some of the materials and character of the stone arch bridge, represents an early United States example of historic bridge preservation effort. This fact, combined with the portions of the 1825 bridge that remain on the bridge, mean that this bridge should be considered historic. 

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