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Thread: Removal of suspension bridge in Pemi Wilderness

  1. #16
    Senior Member Waumbek's Avatar
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    Looks like there were 12 suspension bridges in NH, including the one at Cedar Brook, but only 6 (?) still in use, according to this inventory: http://www.bridgemeister.com/list.ph...=New+Hampshire

    They are a dying breed and have piqued my curiosity. Any bridgemeisters out there who can comment on their significance as bridges?
    Last edited by Waumbek; 04-23-2009 at 08:13 PM.

  2. #17
    Senior Member sardog1's Avatar
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    Well, I'm going to throw gasoline on the flames and let 'er rip. This should be interesting, if not enlightening.

    If the objection to the proposed action is that it will reduce the number of people who can get into the areas in question, in various seasons and at various water levels/snowbridge conditions, then 'splain this to me, plz:

    Why shouldn't the bridges be built to ATV standards and opened thereto?

    If your answer is something other than, "Folks like me are special," then please share it with us. Otherwise, I have a hard time differentiating the objection from the one usually raised by the ATV riders. Yeah, I know, (y)our boots don't do the damage that the ATVs do. I'm not advocating opening federal wilderness areas to ATVs. But I am interested to know why the Wilderness Act should be disregarded in this instance.
    sardog1

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  3. #18
    Senior Member Jason Berard's Avatar
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    It is my understanding that the suspension bridge over the Peabody River also failed a recent inspection, and the plan of action will be to replace it. I think the reasoning in that case is that there is no other safe way to cross the river?

    In this case, is the logic that once can still access that side of the river by staying on the East Side Trail, so therefore the bridge is not necessary?

  4. #19
    Senior Member psmart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Berard View Post
    In this case, is the logic that one can still access that side of the river by staying on the East Side Trail, so therefore the bridge is not necessary?
    From the scoping letter:

    ... points east in the Pemigewasset Wilderness ... can also be accessed from the Eastside Trail, which leaves from the Kancamagus Highway in the same location as the Wilderness Trail.

  5. #20
    Senior Member grouseking's Avatar
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    I've been across that bridge once...in Feb of 05. I remember thinking, "man, this bridge's days are numbered."



    So I think its a good idea. While it may be a major inconvenience for those Pemi ski loops, it doesn't sound like the bridge has much historic value, besides being near 50 years old. It was built in 1960, before the wilderness act took place. It would be foolish to keep the structure up especially if it has severe damage to it, because you know some yahoo will attempt to cross it, even if it is blocked off.

    As sad as it is to see it go, if it can't serve its purpose, then why have it?

    On the other side of the coin..... If the issue of safety comes up, why couldn't a wilderness style replacement bridge be built by hand, using the wilderness ethics? Or if that is too much, maybe some nice stepping stones could be placed...I think that could be done tastefully.

    That would prob be too much, since they are trying to restore the "wilderness" feeling and maintain the necessary historic artifacts (like the old trestle), so they can serve as a reminder of the deforestation that occurred here not that long ago.

    So yeah, I'm all for it. I'm just glad I got to cross it once.

    grouseking

  6. #21
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    The suspension bridge was built in 1959-1960 and opened to use in the fall of 1960. Prior to that, hikers utilized the former No. 17 Trestle, which stood a few hundred feet downstream of the bridge. (If you've visited the bridge, you no doubt have seen the trestle abutments.) The trestle was apparently in very poor condition and the 1955 AMC guide warned hikers that it was "not kept in repair; proceed at your own risk."

    While I personally love the bridge and find it convenient whenever I get the urge to do the East Side-Wilderness Trail loop, its absence would not stop me from visiting the interior Pemi. In truth, the walk along the East Side Trail is way more interesting than the interminable stroll along the old RR grade. This is especially true from the Wilderness boundary up to the site of the bridge. My big regret is that the East Side Trail will no doubt get a lot more use once the bridge is gone and the "wilderness" feel that you get now on that side of the river will be greatly diminished by the increase in foot traffic.

  7. #22
    Senior Member Waumbek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 4Khiker View Post
    My big regret is that the East Side Trail will no doubt get a lot more use once the bridge is gone and the "wilderness" feel that you get now on that side of the river will be greatly diminished by the increase in foot traffic.
    Agreed. A few years ago I spent about 6 hours on a beautiful summer Saturday "patrolling" (long story) that trail back and forth between the campground and the bridge and saw no--0--people. The unintended consequence of the bridge removal will surely diminish the wilderness feel there.

  8. #23
    Senior Member grouseking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Waumbek View Post
    Agreed. A few years ago I spent about 6 hours on a beautiful summer Saturday "patrolling" (long story) that trail back and forth between the campground and the bridge and saw no--0--people. The unintended consequence of the bridge removal will surely diminish the wilderness feel there.
    Hmm, that could be, especially at first. Perhaps as word spreads, less people will go there, thanks to the inconvenience of no bridge. It will be interesting to see what happens in that area in the coming months and years (if the bridge is removed).

  9. #24
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    I wish they had provided estimates of how much it will cost to remove the bridges vs. how much it will cost to repair them.

  10. #25
    Senior Member Stan's Avatar
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    It sounds like a safety hazard that cannot be left as-is and there's, as usual, no money to restore it ... hey! what about the stimulus funds??? The logical bet is that it'll be gone never to return.

    Plenty of places a bridge would be nice but they're not in place so we don't miss them. Same with this location, eventually. This bridge made a nice loop more accessible to more people more times of the year and, in my opinion, it's loss will be unfortunate.

    Maybe the timing of the removal has something to do with precedimg that 50 year milestone but a suspension bridge in a wilderness ... I like suspension bridges and I like wildernesses ... would be of such architectural and contextual significance that I believe it should be evaluated by historic preservation standards. Restoration might be a wiser use of those stimulus funds than a lot of other things proposed or planned.

  11. #26
    Senior Member RoySwkr's Avatar
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    The steel girder bridge has been on the hit list for years, and Black Brook can be crossed most of the time. The chief negative with its removal is that people may be tempted to use the unsafe trestle.

    The suspension bridge has also been on the hit list for years, although in the past that has been coupled with building a new bridge over the East Branch near Franconia Brook Campsite.
    If closure means fewer people in the area, many Wilderness advocates will approve.

    I will write a negative letter but suspect it will be indefinitely closed (like Dry River) even if not removed.

  12. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stan View Post
    It sounds like a safety hazard that cannot be left as-is and there's, as usual, no money to restore it
    That is perhaps my biggest question - how much will they spend to remove it (especially following wilderness regulations)...I can't help but wonder if it'll be more costly to remove it rather than repair it.

  13. #28
    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    As I said above, I've never been over either bridge nor have I been on the Wilderness Trail past Bondcliff. Dr. D. mentioned the Pemi ski-through would be an hour longer. I looked at the map a bit last night and I can see how you wouldn't be able to cross from the Hancocks to the Bonds (Cedar Brook Trail). It would appear to not affect peakbaggers per se. The impact appears to be more for skiers and backpackers, if I understand it correctly.

    What specific loops, traverses, ski-throughs, etc., will you, the reader, miss? Or, what alternatives will you have for said loops?

    Tim
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  14. #29
    Senior Member smitty77's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikehikeskifish View Post
    What specific loops, traverses, ski-throughs, etc., will you, the reader, miss? Or, what alternatives will you have for said loops?

    Tim
    My fondest backpacking memory was a 4 day pemi trip through that very area. Day 3 was a nice walk from Camp 16 (no longer in use) across both bridges in question and up to Throreau Falls for lunch, and then on to a night's stay at Ethan Pond. This was back in 87 or 88, and the Black Brook bridge was fairly new. I remember Max telling me the last time he had been through the area in the late 70s the Wilderness trail still used the old trestle. The hand-rail was still there when I saw it, and the decking still in okay condition. We almost crossed on the old trestle just for kicks, but decided to use the safer, newer bridge.

    As we crossed the suspension bridge, I remember gazing at the old abandoned piers from the No. 17 Trestle and wondering what that bridge must have looked like, and in a way wishing they had repaired or replaced it instead of building a new suspension bridge. It was probably a historic landmark at the time of it's removal in the 60s, and if it was saved we may not be having this discussion today. From an engineering standpoint I am still impressed by the suspension bridge - by its size, height over the river, and the amount of work it must have required to erect it in the first place.

    Smitty
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  15. #30
    Senior Member Hillwalker's Avatar
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    Wonder how

    I wonder how they intend to remove the suspension bridge since they are not permitted to use power tools or have vehicular access in the wilderness. Of course as they did in the 98 ice storm they can suspend the rules on a temporary basis. Re vegetation of the compacted RR bed will also be a trick. As a side note, did you know that there is an old RR bed up on the hillside behind said suspension bridge (Bond Cliff side) that goes well up along the North Fork. I whacked all the way to the base of Thoreau Falls one spring day along that route. There is also quite a bit of steel rail still in place way up in there. Also in there is quite a large campsite full of old tools and some G.I. stuff that I was told was left from when a draft dodger or deserter hid out up in there during the 60s. Hooray for the sixties! Sounds a little like the "Pond of Safety" story. Got this story from my younger brother who went to Canada from NH to avoid the draft. I guess there was quite a bit of information sharing among the group. I don't know cause I had been in the Army ten years by then. GD Lifer!

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