Road Trip: Saving the Nation's Endangered Covered Bridges

Wendy Geller

Covered bridges may not immediately spring to mind when considering national treasures in threat of extinction. However, the fact remains that only about 900 of these charming structures remain standing in the United States, down from an estimated 10,000+ over the years.

Lyndonville, Vermont is one town which is lucky enough to house several of these bridges, and also has the fortune to have dedicated community members who are passionate about conserving these pieces of American history. Road Trip host Marc Istook traveled out to Lyndonville to meet some of these activists and learn more about the endangered bridges they are working to preserve.

Folks like Tim Andrews, director of the National Society for the Preservation of Covered Bridges, believe that the bridges represent an important symbol of times gone by. "We're passing on a legacy for our kids," he explains of his passion.

Arthur and Jean Elliott are two others who are interested in this legacy. They own the town's historic Sanborn Bridge since the '70s, which they explain to Istook is nearly 150 years old and in danger of collapse due to weathering harsh Vermont winters and seasonal floodwaters.

Concerned state and local preservation societies stepped in to help restore the bridge, including help from Andrews. Istook was able to observe as crews set to work elevating the bridge a few feet to strengthen its sagging structure.

The Elliotts note that their town is a unique place largely because of the landmark bridge, and with a little bit of work, the restoration will continue the structure's legacy of construction, engineering, and just plain "making do with materials at hand" history...a legacy that may also be in general danger of vanishing from our country.

If you'd like to learn more about the preservation of covered bridges, visit here. And stay tuned for our next episode of Road Trip -- who knows where we will go next?