The historic B&M Moose Brook Bridge now spans Trout Brook near Head Tide village. The bridge will soon be lowered and secured onto its pilings, and remaining work on two short approach spans will then follow. Brendan Barry photo.
On Saturday, September 8th, our Museum completed a major milestone in our Trout Brook Bridge project with the move of the historic Boston & Maine Railroad Moose Brook Bridge from our Sheepscot parking lot to its final destination spanning Trout Brook near Head Tide village!
Chesterfield Associates handled the move, with assistance from the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office and our volunteers. A detailed story on the move is featured in the Wiscasset Newspaper.
The bridge, originally constructed in 1918 over Moose Brook near Gorham, New Hampshire on the Berlin Branch of the Boston & Maine Railroad, is a historically-significant example of a Howe Boxed Pony Truss bridge, one of only six surviving examples of such a design in North America. While the WW&F never had such a design, a bridge of this type was a familiar sight in Head Tide village — Head Tide Road crossed the Sheepscot River over a Howe Boxed Pony Truss bridge well into the 1940s, within sight of the WW&F right-of-way.
After an arsonist set fire to the Moose Brook bridge in 2004, the National Society for the Preservation of Covered Bridges (NSPCB) saved the remains of the bridge by taking possession of it with the hope of rebuilding. Dr. Dario Gasparini of Case Western Reserve University saw a research opportunity in the charred timbers and cracked castings. First, the structure was documented by the National Covered Bridges Recording Project, a documentation program of the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER), which is administered by a division of the National Park Service. Later, the remaining iron parts were shipped to Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, where Dr. Gasparini, his students, and Tim Andrews of Barns and Bridges of New England completely rebuilt the trusses according to the HAER plans using all new wooden components.
The ensuing tests yielded valuable data on bridge design and load ratings, and provided a framework for the preservation of the remaining examples of this design. At this point, the NSPCB, led by President Bill Caswell, secured a grant from the National Park Service for the re-assembly of the bridge trusses. The next step was to find a suitable home for the historic span, and a number of locations were explored. The original location was no longer in use for railroad purposes, and plans for a static display nearby had stalled. With the assistance of our bridge engineer Wayne Duffett, who has been of substantial assistance in other WW&F projects, talks began about 18 months ago between the NSPCB and the WW&F regarding use of the Moose Brook trusses for a bridge over Trout Brook. They offered to donate the trusses, including the reassembly funds from its NPS grant to the WW&F, so the bridge could once again be put back into active service on a rail line.
The repurposed bridge will now serve as a key piece of our Mountain Extension – a ¾-mile northward extension of our 2.6-mile active railway from Top of the Mountain to Route 218 just north of Trout Brook. Over Columbus Day weekend (October 5th through 8th), our volunteers will build 1400 feet of new track. A similar push over Columbus Day weekend in 2019 will bring our rails to the bridge. In 2020, our Museum will build the remaining track north from the bridge to Route 218, and in 2021, we plan to open the completed extension to the public.
The restoration and reuse of the historic Moose Brook Bridge is the culmination of work by many organizations and individuals. We thank everyone who has supported this effort, including:
Bill Caswell/National Society for the Preservation of Covered Bridges
Christopher Marston/National Park Service, Historic American Engineering Record
Tim Andrews/Barns and Bridges of New England
Lansing Community College
Dr. Dario Gasparini/Case Western Reserve University
Tom E. Dailey Foundation
John H. Emery Rail Heritage Trust
Massachusetts Bay Railroad Enthusiasts
2018 W. Russell Rylko Memorial Award/Mystic Valley Railway Society
Wayne Duffett/TEC Associates
E. Davies Allan/Chesterfield Associates
Jeff Verney/Jeffrey Verney Excavation of Alna
Town of Alna
Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department
Contributors to our Narrow Bridge Ahead! Campaign
And our Members, Sheepscot Valley Neighbors, Friends and Benefactors!
Thank You All!