Comstock Bridge

Historic Covered Bridge
The Comstock Bridge in Connecticut

One of Three Historic Bridges in CT

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, The Comstock Bridge, also known as the Comstock Covered Bridge is one of the three remaining covered bridges left in the state of Connecticut – the other two being the Bulls Bridge in Kent and the West Cornwall Covered Bridge overlooking the Housatonic River in West Cornwall, Connecticut.

The Comstock Bridge is located on 14 Comstock Bridge Road at the junction of Colchester and East Hampton crossing the Salmon River. It’s not only a picturesque site for visitors but also a piece of Connecticut’s Rich Historical Heritage.

Listed on The National Register Of Historic Places

 The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation’s historic places worthy of preservation

Comstock Covered Bridge graphic design by John Denner

Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, and protect America’s historic and archeological resources. also see (Belltown Historic Disctrict)

Brief History of The Comstock Bridge

The Comstock Bridge was originally constructed in the early 19th century, with the current structure dating back to 1873. It was built using the lattice truss design, a common method for covered bridges of that era, which provided the necessary strength to support the heavy loads without the use of steel. The covered aspect of these bridges served a practical purpose as well: it protected the wooden structural elements from the elements, significantly extending their lifespan. Over the years, the bridge has undergone several renovations to preserve its integrity and historical significance. The most recent major restoration was completed to ensure that the bridge remains a safe, accessible landmark for educational, recreational, and photographic opportunities.

Visiting Comstock Bridge

Location and Access: The bridge is easily accessible by car, and there is parking available nearby. It is located off of Route 16 near the junction with Route 149. Pedestrian traffic is allowed on the bridge, but vehicular traffic has been prohibited to preserve the structure.

Activities: Visitors to the Comstock Covered Bridge can enjoy a variety of activities. The surrounding area of the Salmon River State Forest offers hiking trails, fishing spots (the Salmon River is known for trout fishing), and picnic areas. The bridge itself is a popular subject for photography, and its interior provides interpretive signage that offers insights into the bridge’s history and construction.

Preservation and Respect: As with any historic site, visitors are encouraged to treat the bridge and its surroundings with respect. This means not defacing the structure, littering, or engaging in activities that could harm the environment or the bridge itself.

Events and Programs: Occasionally, there might be educational programs or guided tours focusing on the history of the bridge and the surrounding area. Checking with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) or local tourism boards can provide information on any scheduled events.

Additional Information

Before planning a visit, it might be helpful to check for any access restrictions or updates on the preservation efforts. The Connecticut DEEP website or local East Hampton and Colchester tourism websites are good resources for the most current information.

The Comstock Covered Bridge is not just a bridge but a doorway to the past, offering a tangible connection to the history of Connecticut and the ingenuity of early American engineering and construction methods. It’s a serene spot for anyone interested in history, nature, or simply looking for a picturesque setting in the Connecticut countryside.

The Comstock Bridge reminds us that The Town of East Hampton, CT has a long and rich history we can be proud of

Bridge Design

Originally built in 1785, the bridge was a simple uncovered, structure. The Comstock was used for traffic to pass over the river en route to church services, business ventures, and general pedestrian needs; adding access to the north and south ends of town. In 1840 it was upgraded for ‘major’ traffic to be accomodated and in 1873  the bridge was remastered, thanks to the Town of East Hampton’s investment, and  was adorned with a wooden Pony truss (later Howe Truss) Formation. The Comstock Covered Bridge was born. The bad news is, the structure wasn’t engineered to support the weight of the covering and in the 1930’s was completely rehabilitated, utilizing concrete reinforcement and funded by the Civilian Conservation Corps. However what is remarkable about this structure is that William Howe’s design was one of the first to include integrated metal components. In researching the Comstock Bridge it was rumored that during prohibition, a truck holding gallons of “hooch”, was overturned. As a result, the alcohol was compromised! The rumor says it was thanks to the support of the friendly neighbors passing by that the majority of the booze was saved.

Bridge Restorations

In the 1970’s the bridge was reinforced since the original structure began deteriorating, and steel was added for supports. Although the covered structure was not perfect it remained a point of interest for locals and tourists. In 2012 the bridge was rebuilt using 50% of the original wood after being struck by lighting. Fire damage from the strike caused an immediate need for rebuilding and using the original wood was an effort to preserve the historical integrity of the bridge.  Since the rebuild it remains a piece of living history; surrounded by great recreation including fishing, hiking, picnicking and gathering for all who visit.

While it is now one of the three remaining Connecticut covered bridges, it was originally covered simply to protect the wooden trusses from weather. It is now celebrated for the functional beauty that makes it a New England hallmark.  Named after Franklin G. Comstock, the towns first postmaster, the bridge became a means for travel, and convenience. Today we enjoy the architecture of this relic both a reminder of how our community has developed, maintained and supported itself throughout the years. The bridge serves as a beautiful reminder of the traditions of New England, its community and ingenuity. It now has a place in the National Historic Registry. The Comstock Bridge and Salmon River State Forest are located on Route 16 at the Colchester and East Hampton town line.

Written by Robyn Letourneau

Notable Connecticut Covered Bridges

Connecticut Covered Bridges have become a symbol of the New England landscape. Like old homes, churches, barns, and town greens, early covered bridges remind us that the Town of East Hampton, CT has a long and rich history we can be proud of.  The Comstock Covered Bridge is one of the three remaining covered bridges left in the State of Connecticut – the other two being the Bulls Bridge in Kent and the West Cornwall Covered Bridge overlooking the Housatonic River in West Cornwall, CT.

Bulls Bridge - Historic Connecticut Bridge

Bulls Bridge

Located on Bulls Bridge Road, Kent, CT  

This Historic Covered Bridge is a single-lane vehicular wooden covered bridge crossing the Housatonic River in the town of Kent, Connecticut, close to the state border with New York. The first instance of a bridge at this location was constructed by Jacob and Isaac Bull in 1760, which gave the bridge its name. Popular legend suggests that George Washington crossed the bridge with the Bulls’ assistance while still under construction. The current bridge was built in 1842 from timber, with additional supports added in the 19th and 20th centuries. Built with a Town lattice design, the bridge has reinforced truss work visible on the interior. At the time of its nomination to the National Register of Historic Places the roof had wood shingles. It is historically significant as one of three surviving covered bridges in Connecticut, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. The two others being The Comstock Bridge in East Hampton, CT and The West Cornwall Covered Bridge in West Cornwall, CT

West Cornwell Covered Bridge

Cornwall Covered Bridge

Located on Route 128 in West Cornwall, CT

The West Cornwall Covered Bridge is one of the last covered bridges in Connecticut, this iconic landmark spans 172 feet long over the Houstantic River. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it still carries vehicular traffic on Connecticut Route 128.  Designed by Ithiel Town, it has been in continuous service since 1864.

Historic Records indicate that a bridge may have been in place in this location as early as 1762. A previous bridge was destroyed in the flood of 1837 and a new bridge was constructed in 1841. This bridge would also be destroyed and the current bridge would be completed circa 1864. Utilizing the central pier from the previous incarnation, despite the Town lattice being able to withstand the weight and single span, the bridge has two spans. The later addition of queen trusses and supports gives the West Cornwall Bridge an unusual appearance. Modernization of the bridge in 1968 and 1973 has continued to let the bridge handle traffic. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.

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