April Flamingo-grams

Not that we’re halfway through May or anything like that. Here are April adventures, mostly in and around Vermont, with some excursion to CT and NY. (Hover over each photo for the caption.)

March Flamingo-grams February Flamingo-grams January Flamingo-grams Thanksgiving Flamingo-gramsNovember Flamingo-gramsOctober Flamingo-grams

News: Historic Bridge Conference

Do you like bridges? Summertime? Travel? New places? State fairs? Cornfields? Tours? Scholarly papers? Meeting new people with similar interests? If so, consider attending the 5th Annual Historic Bridge Conference, held August 9th – 12th, 2013 in Iowa. It will be the perfect combination of all of the above, and then some. Here is some conference information, provided by Jason Smith of The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles.

Each year since 2009, the Historic Bridge Weekend  Conference has  taken place in August or September, and each year, it has drawn in more people who are  experts in historic bridges, preservation or history, as well as those who are either bridge enthusiasts or have a keen interest in how these vintage structures were built and how they played a role in American History.

This year’s Historic Bridge Weekend is coming to America’s heartland, the state of Iowa, where the history of transportation and infrastructure and the development of America as a whole go together like bread and butter.  The Lincoln and Jefferson Highways meet in the state. Iowa was the first state to introduce the No Passing Zone signs. Kate Shelley made her heroic deed by stopping a passenger train from falling through a bridge washed away by flood waters.

And the bridges?  Iowa takes pride in its bridge building. The first bridge designs, like the Marsh arch, the aluminum girder and the Thacher truss originated from Iowa.  Numerous bowstring arches were built throughout the state. Many big-name bridge builders from Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania made their mark in Iowa, while the state had its own bridge building companies located in Clinton, Ottumwa and Des Moines, which dominated the American landscape during the first half of the 20th Century.

This year’s Historic Bridge Weekend will take place August 9th through the 12th and will focus on the eastern half of Iowa, where many historic bridges dating as far back as 1870 still exist today.

Upper Paris Bridge in Linn County, IA. Photo courtesy of Jason Smith. Click for source.

Upper Paris Bridge in Linn County, IA. Photo courtesy of Jason Smith. Click for source.

The agenda will include tours throughout the state, paper presentations, and a dinner each night. It sounds like a great weekend conference, and an excellent reason to tour America’s heartland. Bring your cameras and practice your photography as Jason Smith is working on The History of Truss Bridges in Iowa and welcoming contributions.

For those who are interested in participating in the dinner and presentations, please RSPV Jason D. Smith at the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles at: flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com or JDSmith77@gmx.net by no later than 15 July.  Information on the bridge tours and the dinner and presentations will be provided through e-mail.  Lodging and camping possibilities are available upon request.

Maybe some of you haven’t had the opportunity to attend a conference yet, or are hesitant to do so because you’re not a bridge expert, for example. Maybe you just like bridges. Don’t worry! Conferences are meant to be educational, and if you have an interest in the conference subject then you are sure to learn a lot and meet interesting people. Smaller conferences with tours and many opportunities for networking and conversing are very rewarding, much more than those conferences purely focused on paper presentations. So, if you’re considering this Historic Bridge Weekend, go for it! In addition, Iowa is a beautiful state. (And might I recommend a visit to Field of Dreams, in addition to all of those lovely bridges.)

Find the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles on Facebook, too.

If you’re attending, let me know! And remember, in the Preservation ABCs: B is for Bridge.

Preservation ABCs: R is for Railing

Preservation ABCs is a series that will work its way from A to Z, bringing words into conversation that are relevant to historic preservation, whether it’s an idea, feature or vocabulary term. The idea is to help you see preservation everywhere you look and wherever you go. Enjoy! See previous letters.


R is for Railing


A variety of railings. Top left: a modern cable railing in a historic railyard turnable (Montpelier, VT). Top right: a pedestrian railing on a truss bridge (Woodstock, VT). Bottom left: An elaborate Federal style balustrade (Rutland County, VT). Bottom right: a joint on a simple storefront railing (Randolph, VT).

Porch railings, stair railings (balusters & banisters), bridge railings, pedestrian railings, even small handrails – all of these might be small elements of our historic buildings and structures, yet they contribute to historic integrity and have the potential to make quite an impression, subliminal or obvious. Varying in height, detail, material and purpose, railings are elements that have changed over time; they are part of architectural style classifications just as doors, windows and interior details.

Due to deterioration of metal or rot of wood, railings exposed to the elements are often replaced. In terms of transportation, pedestrian railings and bridge railings are often replaced due to new crash ratings and safety standards. In public buildings, railings are often replaced because the old one doesn’t meet height requirements. And structures that did not have originally have railings often have later additions, perhaps on stairs or fire escapes – wherever one might be needed. Some might be historically appropriate to the architectural style of the building or structure; however, there is a chance that this new railing addition is an inappropriate, generic selection or 2x4s or standard w-beam (on bridges that is) when it should be something else. Modern railings on historic structures are often meant to fade into the background, such as cable rails, in order to not convey a false impression of what is historic on the structure.

In fact, railings might be something you notice without thinking about it. Next time you are walking or driving over a bridge, look to the side. What is the railing? Does it tell you about the bridge? When you walk into a building, what do you hold onto as you enter? How about when you climb the stairs or stand on a balcony? And then consider this: do you think the railing has been replaced? Even if you haven’t studied architectural history, does this railing seem like it matches the building?

Before replacing a railing consider if it can be rehabilitated. Minor repairs or a creative solution, like adding a parapet to get pedestrian height might solve your problem.

What do you think about railings?

The First Girder – January 27, 2011

Two years ago (yesterday) was a momentus day in the lives of those involved with the Lake Champlain Bridge. On a frigid January day, the first girder was set on Pier 7 of the Lake Champlain Bridge at Chimney Point. To those of us who had never seen such a feat, it was incredible, and we stayed long past normal working hours. And to those waiting for the bridge to open, it was another visual sign of progress.

The first girder on Pier 7.

The first and second girder on Pier 7.

The first girder on Pier 7.

The first and second girder on Pier 7.

Following the first girders, other significant Lake Champlain Bridge events include the Arch Raising on August 26, 2011 and the bridge opening on November 7, 2011 and the opening ceremony on May 19-20, 2012.

Other Lake Champlain Bridge posts: Lake Champlain Bridge Photo Update &  Love a Replacement Bridge?

Preservation ABCs: G is for Gateway

Preservation ABCs is a series that will work its way from A to Z, bringing words into conversation that are relevant to historic preservation, whether it’s an idea, feature or vocabulary term. The idea is to help you see preservation everywhere you look and wherever you go. Enjoy! See previous letters.


G is for Gateway

This pony truss bridges is a gateway to the Woodstock Village Historic District.

A gateway is an indication on the landscape or in the built environment that you are crossing to a new setting. This indication is a tangible change in the environment. Think of a gateway like an entrance to someplace new; however, gateways are more than gates and fences, of course. A gateway might be a bridge, stone walls, landscaping or a settlement pattern that gets denser as you approach the center of town. A bridge is a gateway to a historic district because it anchors one side of the district boundary. Upon crossing that bridge, you are entering the village or historic district.

Gateways are important because they allow us to read the landscape as we travel and to recognize communities. Because of this, our historic bridges are important to maintain and rehabilitate. Removing a truss bridge or an ornamental concrete railing to be replaced with a standard highway bridge will change how you read the landscape. Historic bridges signify crossings and entrances.

Towns and neighborhoods do not need a bridge in order to have a gateway. Sometimes when an “entrance” to a village is less obvious, due to development and sprawl, towns will employ welcome signs and banners or other landscaping elements. The street might be narrower or sidewalks begin at a certain point. These are examples of reading the more subtle hints of the built environment. New development and even shopping malls today attempt to create the feeling of gateways by lining the traffic lanes with ornamental street lights and banners, using pavers or dyed concrete.

When you cross that gateway maybe you get the feeling that you are in a settled area, a more human scale area as opposed to the wide open spaces or the sprawl development. Take a look next time you’re traveling.

Think about this: how do you recognize when you enter your town? What does the approach into your neighborhood look like? Would you say that it has a gateway?

A Favorite Bridge

What is the first type of bridge that comes to mind when you hear the word “bridge”? Do you think of picturesque covered bridges dotting rural roads? Or perhaps a suspension bridge like the Golden Gate Bridge or the Brooklyn Bridge? Or maybe that metal truss bridge is your favorite. A concrete arch? A railroad bridge? A new bridge like the Lake Champlain Bridge (a modified network tied arch)?

Long before I thought about bridges the way I do now, and long before I knew about historic preservation, I had a favorite bridge. The Great South Bay Bridges carry the Robert Moses Causeway over the Great South Bay, which separate Captree and Jones Beach Island (both are parts of Long Island, NY). When we saw this bridge, it meant we were getting close to Grandma’s house and soon we’d be driving on Ocean Parkway, which was always one of my favorites roads.

Sister Bridges of the Great South Bay

The Great South Bay Bridge is a cantilevered steel through truss. The two-lane bridge was constructed in 1951, and its three-lane sister bridge was constructed in 1968 in order to handle additional traffic. At that time both bridges began carrying one way traffic. The western original bridge carries the southbound traffic and the newer, eastern bridge carries northbound traffic.


I remember these bridges undergoing rehabilitation when I was growing up. On our trips to Grandma’s house we’d watch the progress; during construction the bridges carried both directions of traffic since the decks were being replaced, one bridge at a time.

Robert Moses Causeway – Great South Bay Bridge southbound

I still love these bridges, as a driver or passenger or pontist (bridge enthusiast). They are a landmark to me, a nostalgic trigger and a beautiful part of the Long Island landscape. Now that I work with bridges and appreciate truss bridges, I have a new level of love for the Great South Bay Bridges.

What about you? What is your favorite bridge? And why?

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! 


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.

Pop Quiz Answer

If you didn’t catch the most recent Preservation Pop Quiz, read it here.

The answers from readers touched on key points. Here is the original photo.

What can you decipher from this photograph? Click and zoom for additional clarity (this is a large file).

As John guessed in the comments, this appeared to be an old road alignment and perhaps bridge. And Ellen & Jen suggested this area had been hit by the August flooding, and Jen presumed the younger trees suggested a recent change in the landscape. All around, everyone had great answers for reading the landscape.

And the answer? The picture above shows an old road alignment, which you can decipher from two key points. First, in the picture above (and see below for a more central view), the sloped bank that has a rise to it is a bridge abutment. If you look closely you can see how the road slightly curves in towards the old abutment. Second, the utility wires cut across the river rather than following the road. Often when bridges and roads are realigned, the wires remain in place, which can often be a helpful hint.

Here are a few photographs and aerials to aid in explanation.

Looking at the old bridge abutment.

Looking west.

This area was heavily affected by the flooding from Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011. Throughout Vermont you can see rivers with more cobbles and rocks than pre-flood and banks that have been ravaged by the strong currents and await restoration.

Standing above the river, you can see the path of the old road - based on the utility wires, not the grassy path in this picture.

Where is this? The bridge abutment is part of the former alignment of VT Route 73 in Rochester, VT. Route 73 intersects with VT Route 100 further north.  See these aerial maps below.

Route 73 (Brandon Mountain Road) would have turned in the center of this image, and connect to what is now State Garage Road.

The current alignment of VT Route 73 and Route 100.

Old bridge abutments are everywhere – be on the lookout! Thanks for reading and playing.  If you like reading about old road alignments, check out Jim Grey’s blog Down the Road, where he often writes about old alignments of the National Road.


p.s. Look for the next Sense of Place post this afternoon. 

Abandoned Vermont: Putney Stone Arch Bridge

Abandoned buildings are usually what catches my attention, but there are other structures to remember. Many bypassed or “abandoned” bridges remain across the state, such as this one in East Putney.

You might miss this bridge if you are not walking on the side of the road.

Another view from the road. The foliage of the spring and summer months probably hides this view.

Side view.

Under the stone arch.

View up to the roadbed. Note the quarry marks on the stone.

Stone arch bridges are often found on bypassed roads or low traffic rural roads. They represent a different era of construction and different set of knowledge for engineers and bridge builders of today. Sadly, these bridges often cannot handle our modern traffic loads and are removed or ignored.

This Putney bridge is not very visible from the road, but it appears to be near a small park and recreational trail. From what I know, the people of Putney appreciate this bridge (or at least some people do).

James Otis Follett, a Vermont engineer and mason, constructed this bridge in 1902, one of about 40 bridges throughout Vermont. This bridge was bypassed in 1965 for a straighter road alignment. The bridge is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Read its nomination here for additional history and significance information.

Tuesday Thankfulness

It’s the week of Thanksgiving, and here at Preservation in Pink, each day of the week will be dedicated to a different subject of preservation thankfulness.

Monday Thankfulness.


Today I am thankful for beautiful places and beautiful views that make us proud to live where we do and make us believe in all places.  Some of the places I love:

Route 17 in Addison, VT.

Scott's Bluff, NE.

Overhills, North Carolina.

Route 66, drive-ins, roadside America.

The Big Duck.

Concrete streets in Point Lookout, NY.

Carl's Ice Cream, Fredericksburg, VA.

Thousand Island Park, NY. Good flamingo memories.

Truss bridge in Bethel, VT. I love truss bridges.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Roads, landscapes, historic sites, buildings, roadside architecture, bridges – I love it all. I love the built environment.