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Pelsue Cemetery Program

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The Covered Bridges of Nicholas Powers

Last week, the Wallingford Historical Society presented its first program for this year. The program entitled “The Covered Bridges of Nicholas Powers” was held at the Historical Society Museum located on the second floor of the Town Hall. It was a well attended, fun and informative event.

A. Nicholas Strom-Olsen, the great great great grandson of famous covered bridge builder and Clarendon resident, Nicholas Powers walked the audience through the life and works of Powers.

Nicholas Powers was born on August 30, 1817 in Pittsford, Vermont. He lived in Ira for a period of time and spent his final days in Clarendon.

As Strom-Olsen explained during his presentation, Powers who was self-taught, built his first bridge when he was 19 years old. That bridge, the Pittsford Mills Bridge, traversed the Furnace Brook and was built in the year 1837. It was removed in 1931 for road widening.

The Gorham Bridge, also located in Pittsford traverses the Otter Creek and still stands today. It is one of the four still-standing covered bridges built by Powers in Rutland County.

The other bridges that still remain standing today are the Cooley Bridge over the Furnace Brook in Pittsford, the Brown Bridge over the Cold River in Shrewsbury and one of the Twin Bridges in East Pittsford, which is now on dry land and no longer used as a bridge.

Powers is known for building covered bridges that had covered sides which became one of Powers’ trademarks. Powers built Wallingford’s own covered bridge over the Otter Creek connecting the two sections of Route 140, which was then referred to as a “quaint side road”. Powers built the Wallingford bridge in 1874 and a streamside ledge outcrop served as most of the western abutment of the bridge. Wallingford’s bridge was burned in 1949 when the metal bridge was erected in its stead.

Powers also holds the record for building the longest single span wooden bridge in the world. The bridge, located over the Schoharie Creek in Blenheim, New York was built by Powers from 1854 to 1855. It is 232 feet long. It is contained in the Guinness Book of World Records.

English: The Old Blenheim Bridge in North Blen...

English: The Old Blenheim Bridge in North Blenheim, New York is the longest covered bridge of its type in the world. Photographed 11 March 2008 from up the hill on the eastern shore of the Schoharie Creek. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The bridge was referred to as Power’s Folly because during its construction, nay-sayers believed that the bridge would fall, being unable to support that long of a suspension. It was reported by Strom-Olsen that Powers stood on top of the bridge when it was opened and stated that if the bridge fell, he would fall with it. The bridge settled less than one inch and withstood over two hundred years, it was destroyed by Hurricane Irene when the concrete buttresses went underwater. There no longer being anything to support the bridge, it collapsed.  A true tragedy.

In addition, to covered bridge building, Powers was responsible for building the Kingsley Grist Mill in Clarendon. This is the only mill designed and built by Powers. Ironically, the Kingsley covered bridge located next to the mill was not built by Powers.

Powers also built the Cheese Factory and Creamery in Clarendon which is the present home of the Clarendon Grange. Strom-Olsen was joined by his wife and family for the presentation. A lively discussion ensued with lots of questions and comments from the audience including a story from David Klock about the burning of the Wallingford bridge.

The Wallingford Historical Society welcomes the entire Wallingford community to its next presentation, featuring Wallingford residents Jay White and David Klock at the Town Hall on June 26, 2012 at 7 p.m.

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Covered Bridges Program

Wallingford Historical Society

presents

The Covered Bridges of Nicholas Powers

Join the Wallingford Historical Society on Tuesday May 29, 2012 as we hear from Nicholas Strom-Olsen discuss his great-great-great-grandfather Nicholas Powers, famous covered bridge builder. Mr. Strom-Olsen will present a lecture on the life of Nicholas Powers who has built many of the covered bridges in our area including those in Shrewsbury and Pittsford.

Time: 7 p.m.

Place: Wallingford Town Hall Museum (2nd Floor)

(Handicap accessible via elevator)

~ All are welcome and encouraged to attend ~

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Summer in Vermont

Summer in Vermont—it doesn’t get much better than that, always something for everyone.   Today nature has provided us with beautiful blue skies, light breeze, and low humidity… but if this isn’t your cup of tea it will be hot and humid on the 4th of July.

The Wallingford Historical Society welcomes all the summer residents and out of town visitors.  Stop by the Town Hall during the week and head upstairs to view our exhibit.  Save the last Tuesday of the month for our programs. On July 27th, it will be Adam Boyce presenting “SPRIGHTLY STEPS: Vermont’s Contra and Square Dancing Traditions”.   An ideal family program, it will be at 7:00PM in the Town Hall.  There will be a general meeting following this program.  All are welcome to give input into how we can improve the Historical Society.

August is our annual Art and Collectable show at Elfin Lake.  Diane Cooney will be looking for participants in this program as well as some help setting up.  If you or anyone you know does any sort of artistic work or has an interesting collection of items, please contact Diane at 446-2514.  The show will open at 5:00PM.  Bring a picnic dinner and spend an evening with friends and family admiring the talent of Wallingford people.  Directly after the show, 7:30PM, we will hold our annual meeting.  All are welcome.

It is with great celebration of life that we remember Thelma Carlton Perry who passed away on June 24th at the age of 100.  We can be assured that Thelma will be greatly missed.  She did countless wonderful things for so many people of this town.  It would be a real tribute to her if we could compile some of your remembrances and dedicate a future issue of the Wallingford Perspectives to her.   Send or email me your stories…brookvale@vermontel.net…. 2586 West Hill Rd..

I hope you enjoy this issue of the Perspectives as much as I enjoyed doing the April Poetry Program.  Hopefully it will become an annual affair.  Next time we can include student poems about Vermont/Wallingford along with more poems written by town people.  Watch for updates on this program.

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

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