Building the Pepperell Covered Bridge

Labor Day seems like the perfect day to complete a 20 month long project. It was March of 2009 when I first learned that the Waterous Covered Bridge in Pepperell, Massachusetts was being replaced. Since then I’ve made many trips to the site to check on progress and more importantly to try to capture the process in photographs. I’ve made well over 1000 images, but what follows are the best 20 or so. I hope you enjoy this little slice of history…


new bridge abutments and crane

March 2009 - On my first visit work on the abutments was still in progress. The base of the southern one was hidden by the coffer dam as work began on the stone facing. The northern abutment was covered by a huge white tarp. I believe this was to aid the setting concrete.


stack of granite curb stones

March 2009 - A stack of granite curb stones for the roadway leading to and from the new bridge.


new abutments for the Pepperell Covered Bridge

April 2009 - The abutments were well along, as work continued adding the stone facings.


Abutment and sandbags

April 2009 - The decorative stone work on the abutments was nearly complete.



May 2009 - Stacks of beams that would become the trusses of the new bridge.


Abutments complete

August 2009 - The abutments were complete. The temporary dams had been removed and the river was settling into it's new course.


Hardware   Bolts

August 2009 - Bridge hardware waiting for the truss work to begin.


 Pepperell Covered Bridge truss work in a blizzard

February 2010 - This month's visit was during a blowing blizzard. The critical elements of any covered bridge are the trusses since they do the work. In this case a version of the Howe truss system was used, which is fitting since William Howe, the inventor of this system, was a Massachusetts native.


Rafters going up

March 2010 - As the weather warmed the pace of work increased and the roof rafters went up.


The complex geometry of the Pepperell covered bridge rafters

March 2010 - It's almost a shame to cover the complex, beautiful geometry of the trusses and rafters of the new bridge.


Roof on the Pepperell Covered Bridge

April 2010 - The roof rafters were complete and the plywood of the roof was on. Since the 'covered' in covered bridge is really about protecting the trusses from the weather this still wasn't a 'covered bridge' yet.


Roof complete

April 2010 - The roof was complete.


Siding is up on the Pepperell Covered Bridge

May 2010 - The siding on both sides of the bridge went up in just a week. Work on the walkways was also underway.


Pepperell Covered Bridge in infrared

May 2010 - In the middle of this project I converted an older camera to infrared. This is one of my early efforts with my new toy. The siding was complete and visible work at this point was on the guard rails for the walkways on either side.


Temporary bridge comes down

June 2010 - The temporary bridge that had blocked the west side of the bridge throughout construction finally came down.


West side view of the Pepperell Covered Bridge

June 2010 - After nearly a year and half of watching this bridge being built, this is the first time I've had a clear view of the west side.


West side of the Pepperell Covered Bridge in infrared

June 2010 - Another view of the west side of the new bridge. This one is also done using the infrared camera.


 Pepperell Covered Bridge opens to traffic

July 2010 - On Friday 7/30 the bridge opened to vehicle traffic for the first time in over two years. I captured this the next morning as this gentleman was kind enough to drive across a couple times for me in his beautiful little convertible.


Old Car Crossing Pepperell Covered Bridge

August 2010 - The bridge has been in regular use for a few weeks now. On my visit this morning I met the Dingee's taking a picture of their 1937 Graham crossing the bridge and they were kind enough to allow me to make a few as well.


Ribbon Cutting at the Pepperell Covered Bridge

September 2010 - Members of the Pepperell Militia stand by as local dignitaries get ready to cut the ribbon at the dedication celebration.


Pepperell Covered Bridge Ribbon Cut

September 2010 - The new bridge is dedicated with this ribbon cutting and is officially named the Pepperell Covered Bridge.


Here’s a few more photos of the beautiful new Pepperell Covered Bridge:

Pepperell Covered Bridge with 2010 year marker

A view of the new Pepperell Covered Bridge showing it's 2010 marker.


View of the Pepperell Covered Bridge from the Nashua River

The Pepperell Covered Bridge from the middle of the Nashua River.


Pepperell Covered Bridge and clouds

And here's the finished Pepperell Covered Bridge under a great late summer sky.

To help find the new Pepperell Covered Bridge, or any other covered bridge in the U.S., please visit my other site –


  1. well done …I really wish our government here in NewBrunswick canada would do the same thing as you guys …ours burn they dont replace it

  2. loved seeing the bridge as it went through the steps till completion – thank you for capturing the progression – Cathy Panella (descendant of Prudence and lucky to have been in the re-enactment 9/4/2010)

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