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Covered Bridge at Reynolds Gull Collapse of 1902

Read the history of the Reynolds Gull bridge below.

Photos courtesy of Joyce O’Neil.



The Reynolds Gull bridge being rebuilt after its collapse in 1902. The man in the photo is unidentified. Click the image to enlarge.



The Reynolds Gull bridge being rebuilt after its collapse in 1902. The wooden planks are being laid. Click the image to enlarge.



The finished bridge at Reynolds Gull. The people in the photo are unidentified. Click the image to enlarge.



One of the old trusses which still stands in the gully. Click the image to enlarge.

Springwater History of the Covered Bridge

29 February 1968 - The Valley News

by J. Reid Robinson

Before the first covered bridge was built across the Big Gull, Reynolds Gull, or Stuart Gull, the first highway crossed it at a place a few rods east of the present county road known as “Sky Acres”. In fact, the roadway to the creek used by the present owner, is about where the first highway road was built.

The old road crossed the creek to the south and turned westward for about a half mile along the south bank of the gull and south meeting the Tabor’s Corner Road east of the place now occupied by Hilbert Jensen.

In the year 1840 Orson Walbridge and Gooden Thayer built the first covered bridge across the Reynold’s Gull on the same site that the iron bridge was built years later. The first bridge was a latice work bridge.

According to Mr. Walbridge, there was, at the time of building the bridge, a saw mill in operation on the north bank of the gull, nearly where the fill was made for the new road crossing. Hemlock lumber that came from the Wiley Jackman’s farm, now owned by Merle Crooks, was used in the construction of the bridge.

It is of interest, to note the cost of the lumber for the bridge, Hemlock logs delivered to the mill cost $2.50 per thousand board feet. The charge for sawing the logs into lumber was $2 per thousand. Thus making a total cost of $4.50 per thousand feet delivered at the bridge site. Since the mill was located on the north side of the gull, the logs were hauled over a rather poorly constructed road down the south bank and up the steep north bank.

The bridge itself, was much shorter than the iron one that replaced the second covered bridge. As nearly as can be estimated, the covered bridge was approximately 70 feet long and 16 feet wide. The bridge had a gable roof covered with hand shaved shingles. The sides were enclosed from the floor up for about five feet, the rest of the way to the plate that supprted the roof, was lattice work. The clearance was about 10 feet. The bridge was very noisy when a wagon passed through it due to planks being loosened by the traffic.

Stephen Brophy, father of Frank Brophy and grandfather of Waldo Snyder replaced the first covered bridge in 1873. This bridge stood until the spring of 1902, when it fell into the bottom of the gull.

There was, at the time, much speculation as to what may have caused it to collapse. One theory was that the rhythm of a dog trotting through the bridge set it into vibration causing it to be shaken from its foundation for it claimed a dead dog was found in the fallen bridge. Another explanation for its falling was that the south entrance had become rotted and thus weakened and when the frost left the ground it somehow caused the south end to move off its foundation enough to cause it to crash.

The covered bridge, sometimes served as a shelter from a rain storm. It was also rather hard for a team to draw a loaded sleigh through it because, sleigh runners did not easily slide over dry boards.

A longer steel bridge was erected during the summer of 1902, replacing the old covered bridge by the United Construction Company. This bridge stood until 1952, when it was hauled down sometime after the fill was made for the road west of the bridge site.

The fill was made to straighten the road and to take out the sharp steep curves of the approaches that lead to the former bridge, made it more permanent and in the final analysis, perhaps cheaper.

Queerest of Falls

24 Februrary 1902 - Democrat & Chronicle

Springwater Bridge Went Down With a Crash Into North Gully

Springwater people were surprised to learn Saturday night that the large covered bridge which spans what is known as North Gully had gone down. The bridge was a wooden structure, enclosed on both sides and with shingle roof, and was one of the largest and highest highway bridges in that section.

The news caused considerable excitement and comment, as there had been a good deal of travel through it all day, and this fact, of course, led to the conclusion that it must have fallen with someone in it, but it was soon ascertained that the rigs seen approaching the bridge at about that time had reached their destinations safely, and fears in that direction for the most part subsided. As it was on the main travelled road from Canadice to Springwater there were many rigs coming and going Saturday afternoon, among the rest several loads of potatoes, beans, coal, etc., and why it should have weakened and gone to the bottom of the gully with a crash that was heard for a mile, of its own weight and at this particular moment, with no one in it, is a mystery, and at the same time a circumstance almost too fortunate to be true.

Lest someone might have entered the bridge unseen and with the possibility of their being under the pile of wreckage, it was hauled over yesterday morning sufficiently to permit a view of the interior and satisfy the searchers that no one could be in it.

The timbers and ironwork of the bridge will be a total loss, and the loss to the town, besides replacing it probably with a steel bridge, will be considerable, besides the almost isolation of a large farming district whose principal outlet was via this route. The bridge was built about thirty-five years ago (1865) and overhauled and repaired about eight years ago and was considered perfectly safe, traction engines and separators having passed through it almost without a jar even as late as last fall.

The cause of its sudden fall is all guess work, but in all probability must have been due to the weight of snow upon the roof.