An Englert Metal Roof Covers a Piece of History in Vermont

Today’s blog is about a bridge -  A covered bridge in Vermont  with a standing seam metal roof on it and a community that came together to rebuild that bridge and restore its place in history .

On August 28, 2011, when the Williams River rose to historic heights during Tropical Storm Irene, the Bartonsville Covered Bridge, built in 1870, in the village of Bartonsville, in Rockingham, Vermont, lost its battle to the raging waters.  The swollen river eroded the banks on its south side damaging the bridge’s abutments.  When the abutments gave way the bridge separated from the banks and began gliding down the river. Unable to make a turn in the river, the 151-foot-long, lattice truss-style bridge collapsed in a pile on the shore about a half mile down-stream.Bartonsville covered bridge destroyed by Tropical Storm Irene

It wasn’t the first Bartonsville covered bridge to be victimized by a storm. It was built after the great Vermont flood of 1869 that changed the course of the Williams River, replacing another covered bridge about a quarter of a mile up the road where the river used to flow.

The raging Williams River had done its damage for the second time in 142 years.
Susan Hammond is a longtime Bartonsville resident who was just yards away and witnessed the bridge giving way. Hammond caught the entire event on her digital camera and within days the Bartonsville Bridge became a nationwide symbol for the historic destruction Vermont suffered at the hands of Irene.

The video of the Bartonsville Covered Bridge being carried away by the river became a YouTube spectacle and its destruction, and rebuilding, became powerful symbols for what Vermont has been through since 2011. At the bridge opening on Saturday, January 26 2013, Hammond recognized all of the hard work that went into bringing a covered bridge back to Bartonsville.

She was among 100 people including Gov. Peter Shumlin and Congressman Peter Welch, who showed up on a very cold morning to recognize the work that had gone into replacing the original, historic bridge.

Rebuilt Bartonsville Covered BridgeWelch said the rest of America noticed how quickly and efficiently Vermont was able to rebound from the storm. He pointed out that his Congressional colleagues now refer to “The Vermont way” as an example of how communities should come together to address devastation and reconstruction following natural disasters.

“It is emblematic of how Vermonters came together,” Welch told the crowd of fellow Vermonters.  ‘We had a job to do,’ and then worked together to get the job done.”

The town worked with the Vermont League if Cities and Towns to secure the insurance money to replace the bridge and with FEMA which helped with mitigation funding.

Bartonsville covered bridge opening ceremony January 2013Engineers at Clough Harbour & Associates, construction crews from Cold River Bridges and Englert metal roofing contractor, David Paige of Iron Horse Roofing in Londonderry, Vermont, who installed the bridge’s Forest Green Series 1300 metal roof, worked through bitter winter weather to make sure Bartonsville would once again have its covered bridge. Everyone acknowledged that the January 26 dedication would not have been possible without everyone working together.

“Our slogan was ‘We can rebuild history,’” Hammond told the gathered crowd.   “The people of Bartonsville insisted that we rebuild the bridge.” And it was the sheer spirit and determination of people like Hammond that made it happen. She led a fundraising campaign that brought in about $60,000, which she said came from all over the world.

Sitting here in New Jersey where Hurricane Sandy took its toll so recently, we can only admire the spirit of the people of Rockingham, Vermont.  And we can fully understand why they needed to rebuild. Our hats are off to all those who played a part in this wonderful story and we hope their  new bridge and the Englert metal roof covering  it will last for another 140 years.

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