|Milford, NH Swing Bridge|
After reading about the bridge, we went on an excursion to Milford, NH, a 20-minute drive from Nashua. The advantages about many of our recent adventures are that all are close by car, all outdoors, and all free of charge —very nice overall.
Built in 1889, the Milford Suspension Bridge, its official name, is popularly called the Milford Swing Bridge or Swinging Bridge. It spans the Souhegan River between Bridge and Souhegan Streets in Milford just a short walk east of the Milford Oval (town center) in the downtown area.
An original wooden footbridge, built in 1850, is how the Swing Bridge got its name. That footbridge was reported to sway heavily under the foot traffic of mill workers as they travelled across it to work and home.
In 1869, the wooden bridge was swept away by high waters and later replaced by the current iron and cable suspended footbridge. (Despite 20-years between the loss of the first bridge and completion of the second bridge, I couldn't find details on how the river was crossed.)
The new bridge was built by the Berlin Iron Bridge Company, a Connecticut-based firm, recognized for building metal bridges in the late 19th century. The firm constructed hundreds of bridges across the eastern U.S. until 1900.
|Berlin Iron Bridge Company, 1898 Construction Date|
A product of its time, the Milford bridge bears Victorian Era traits such as a cross beam with decorative finials (finial is a decorative ornament on the top of a bridge marking its "finish" or completion) that span opposite ends of the nearly three-story high support towers on each side of the bridge. These towers have cables which suspend the wood-plank walkway over the Souhegan River.
The bridge is constructed of riveted iron work and cabling and the abutments were built by a local stone worker. The bridge's wooden deck has been replaced over the years, and it doesn't sway. In 1975, the bridge underwent a major restoration which included installation of the chain link fencing, while it does nothing to enhance the bridge, it's more likely for safety reasons.
|Iron work and cabling, Milford Suspension Bridge|
Six years ago, an article in the Milford Cabinet weekly newspaper cited that heavy usage and environmental conditions were contributing to the need for a full restoration of the Swing Bridge. At that time, the price tag was listed at half a million dollars, which would be much higher now. According to the Milford Historical Society, restoration is in the hands of the NH State Dept. of transportation.
|Anchoring cables, Milford Suspension Bridge|
Just a short walk from the bridge we saw the former mill site. Like most New England Mills, which were located near water, the river was its power source back when it operated.
|Former Milford Cotton and Woolen Manufacturing Company, Milford, NH|
The mill buildings were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 and converted to senior residences in 1983.
|Souhegan River, Milford, NH|