Five B Tour: Bikes, Bridges, Barns, Bakeries and Beer

Today’s post is written by Caitlin Corkins, a fellow UVM Historic Preservation alum, and a Stewardship Manager for Historic New England. Follow along for a fun bike tour. Thanks, Caitlin! 

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By Caitlin Corkins

On Saturday, June 23 a group of ten intrepid bicyclists took to the road. Led by Bob McCullough, Associate Professor in the Historic Preservation program at the University of Vermont, this event was a fundraiser for the University’s Historic Preservation Alumni Association. More important, it was a chance to explore Vermont’s built environment on the roads between Montpelier and Moretown from a new perspective.

3. Bridge No. 304 of the Washington County Railroad, Montpelier – 1909 Pratt pin-connected through truss across the north branch of the Winooski River. Trains still cross this bridge today. Photo courtesy of Caitlin Corkins.

Vermont may be known for picturesque covered bridges, but the State has a wealth of historic metal truss bridges as well. Beginning in Montpelier, we learned about the history of these bridges, including developments in truss design from early pony trusses to later Warren and Pratt trusses, and developments in metallurgy from cast iron and wrought iron to rolled steel beams. The roads around the Winooski River, it turns out, are a perfect classroom.

The group admires the recently rehabilitated (2011) Taylor Street Bridge, Montpelier – 1929 Parker through truss across the Winooski River. Photo courtesy of Caitlin Corkins.

Three Mile Bridge, Berlin and Middlesex, 1928 Parker through truss across the Winooski River. Courtesy of Caitlin Corkins.

We also learned about the State of Vermont’s Historic Bridge Program. Established in 1998, this program was formed to identify historic bridges around the state and come up with strategies for rehabilitating those that can continue to serve their intended use as well as adapting others for alternative transportation uses, or recreation or historic sites. The result is that these local landmarks dotting the Vermont landscape will continue to serve as physical reminders of the evolution of bridge design and use.

Crossing Bridge 303 of the Washington County Railroad, Montpelier – 1903 Two-span Pratt through truss across the Winooski River on foot. Courtesy of Caitlin Corkins.

Buckley Bridge, Moretown – 1928 reinforced concrete T-beam bridge carrying Vermont Route 100B across Downsville Brook. Reinforced concrete bridges supplanted metal truss bridges and will be the next type of bridges we’ll need to survey, evaluate, and advocate for. Courtesy of Caitlin Corkins.

While riding along the scenic Town Highway 2 and Route 100B we also paused at several interesting barns, learning about developments in the dairy industry in Vermont through the physical evidence left behind, from Yankee Barns to Bank Barns, to Ground-Level Stable Barns and Free-stall Barns.

Three story gravity barn c. 1885 – Town Ayer Farm on Town Highway 2, Berlin. Courtesy of Caitlin Corkins.

Horse and Carriage barn, c. 1885 – Murray-Shepard Farm, Route 100B, Moretown. Courtesy of Caitlin Corkins.

Synonymous with Vermont’s image, farms and their built structures are unquestionably worth preserving. Thus, much like the State’s Historic Bridge Program aims to identify and advocate for historic bridges, a more recent effort by the State Historic Preservation Office, in partnership with the University of Vermont’s Historic Preservation Programs and preservation non-profits around the state, The Vermont Barn Census, aims to complete a comprehensive survey of barns around the state, laying the foundation for their preservation.

Panoramic view of the picturesque Ayer Farm, Berlin. Courtesy of Caitlin Corkins.

Not to leave out the other important B’s of the day, lunch was at the Red Hen Bakery in Middlesex, well worth a stop, and we finished our twenty-five mile trek with well-deserved micro-brews at the Three Penny Taproom in Montpelier. Biking, it turns out is a great way to explore the built environment around you. Not to mention good exercise.

Caitlin Corkins and Sarah Graulty (UVM HP class of 2008) on the open road in Moretown, Vermont.

One thought on “Five B Tour: Bikes, Bridges, Barns, Bakeries and Beer

  1. Jim says:

    This sounds like a perfect day! And those truss bridges are great. You’re right, the concrete bridges now need our help to be preserved.

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