Building Bridges Builds Community
What could be a better metaphor for community connectedness than a group of individuals coming together to build a bridge? With the snow melted and the leaves finally out on the trees, the community partners of Powder Major’s Forest came together this spring to bring an old bridge up to new standards.
On May 15, volunteers and staff from the Forest Society brought in tools and lumber to start the project with help from members of the Wentworth Hunt Club and a generous tractor from Chuck Goss’s Powder Major’s Farm. Getting the lumber brought in and the old bridge hauled out by tractor saved our crew a ton of time and a lot of heavy lifting. With the old bridge gone, our dedicated volunteers got down in the mud and started working on constructing the new 20-foot span bridge onsite.
With the area now clear of debris, the team split up to tackle two projects at once. I gathered half of the volunteer crew to take on the task of creating the abutments which would support our new bridge. This crucial process involves digging a trench in its precise location, lining it with landscape fabric, and back filling with stones crushed and packed by hand. This stable platform allows water to drain around a sturdy 8x8 timber that distributes the heavy load of the bridge. Crushing rock by hand isn’t easy, but using this locally sourced material is a sustainable way to extend the life of this trail network.
The other team led by Field Forester, Gabe Roxby, set after screwing and gluing our three 20-foot-long built up beams to span the gap. Made up of three layers of 2x10 pressure treated lumber from our local supplier, these stringers will be tough enough to support loads of pedestrian traffic and heavy New England snow. It took all hands working as one unit to move each of these heavy beams safely into place. With new beams set securely on solid abutments our goal for day one had been met.
I returned the following week with Field Forester, Steve Junkin, and Powder Major volunteer Land Steward, Martin Castle, to finish the bridge with decking, railings, and a gently sloping grade on each side. Once again, Chuck Goss lent a hand by delivering our tools the half-mile distance by tractor. As one of the first improvement projects here at Powder Major’s Forest, we really wanted to set the bar high. This forest means a lot the local community which is why we went the extra mile as far as sub-structure and finishing details of the bridge. Each stringer was topped with a waterproof flashing to prolong its useful lifespan. It is our goal as stewards of the land to make sure this bridge will be enjoyed by visitors to the forest for many years to come. Thank you to all who helped in making this bridge and in making connections in the local community. If you've not been to Powder Major's Forest, you can get directions and a hiking map by following this link.