Saturday, May 17, 2014

Bridges of Franklin County

The first part of the day was spent flitting around with butterflies. After we left there we headed for a couple of bridges in the area. While I planned this part of the trip, it looked like we would be driving thru some dirt, but sitting in the MINI this is no big deal.

First stop was the Bardwell’s Ferry Bridge. Constructed in 1882, it spans the Deerfield River some 198 feet and is located is a pretty sparsely populated area. The bridge is unique in that it is a lenticular truss bridge because of the shape of the major supporting membranes. There only 50 of these type bridges existing in the US, especially since it was constructed in the 19th century. The ferry in the name comes from the Bardwell family ferry they operated since 1778. The bridge connected the town of Conway and Shelburne Falls.

Bardwell's Ferry Bridge

Bardwell’s Ferry Bridge - Conway, MA

Even though the GPS pointed us in the direction we came, I crossed the bridge out of curiosity. The GPS recalculated itself and indicated it found another way to our next destination. We wandered thru the back lands of Conway and came across this neat farmhouse with a gas pump outside. Check out the cars in the barn. It would have been neater if there was an Austin Healy 3000, Cobra and Morgan instead.

House with Gas Pump

We started up again it became evident the GPS was simply taking us to the first turnaround spot because I have U turns turned off in the GPS. We ended going back over the bridge. I did see a FJR come down the hill and cross the bridge, so I am assuming they were coming from Shelburne Falls, and I was simply lost.

We ended up on RT 116 heading south for the next stop. RT 116 is one of the premier motorcycle roads in the state of Massachusetts, because it is so curvy. MeAsWe commented that I might have been going a bit too fast and should think about slowing down. Going fast on curvy roads in the MINI is fun as well. I don’t know how many times I have been on 116, but I never noticed the next bridge.

The Burkeville Covered Bridge was built in 1869/70 and is the second oldest of the timber through truss bridges built in Massachusetts. It also has the distinction of being one of five dating from the 19th century. It is a Howe truss bridge with the only other existing one in Indiana. The bridge spans the South River and is 107 feet long.

Burkeville Covered Bridge

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We headed into Conway Center to take some pictures because the center is on the National Register of Historic Places as a districts. The Conway Center Historic District, including an outstanding concentration of buildings from the two decades preceding the Civil War and reflecting town development from 1830 to 1930, is an enduring center of town life, containing residential, institutional, civic, and commercial buildings. It is also the home of Marshall Fields who owned the Marshall Fields store in Chicago. He donated the funds to build the library which is a really cool building and looks a little out of place compared to the rest of the town. With MeAsWe at the helm of the MINI I was able to walk entire town and take pictures of all 45 building making up the historic district.

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Conway Center Historic District

Conway Center Historic District

This house was the most colorful house in the neighborhood. The owner was outside putting around in the yard and as I walked by I complimented him on this house. He thanked me and we had a brief conversation where I asked him how much time he spent figuring out what colors to use. He said about 10 minutes in Home Depot. He also stated not everyone in town liked what he had done with the place. I think it looks great. Check out the color coordinated porch furniture

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On this street a guy came out of his house and asked me what I was doing. I could have said taking pictures for the town assessor for the upcoming tax assessment hearing but simply said documenting the historic district.

At this joint this guy with a really long grey beard kept looking up and just had that look, WTF is this guy doing. I yelled across his yard the same thing I told the other guy and I got the thumbs up versus getting the Hustler treatment.

We headed home with one stop to go. Otis Mill Company Mill #1 was built in 1845/46 to manufacturer woven knit goods, stockings, and shirts. In 1840 the Otis Company employed 211 people swelling to over 1,200 later and then by WWI to 2,500. Like the rest of the mills it suffered a decline due to the industry moving to the southern states and for Otis, the lack of modern machinery. The Otis Company decides to liquidate in 1937 and the town people rallied to purchase the mill with the phrase, "The Town That Can’t be Licked".

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Full day and a great day of exploring.

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