Historic Structures

Honeymoon Covered Bridge, Jackson New Hampshire

Date added: September 9, 2016 Categories: New Hampshire Bridges

The Ellis River drains the southeastern flank of the Presidential Range and joins the Saco River near Glen, New Hampshire. Near the village of Jackson, the East Branch of the Ellis River, also known as the Wildcat River, hastens the Ellis on its journey. Even as late as 1894, about one half of the Town of Jackson was virgin forest. During the nineteenth century, the combination of the mountains, the forest and its hunting potential, and the Wildcat River's picturesque Jackson Falls offered escape and relief for an increasingly industrialized northeast. The first purpose-built hotel in Jackson opened in 1858.

Despite its increasing prosperity, the town records are not entirely clear when the Ellis River was first crossed or even when the current covered bridge was built. The crossing is of some antiquity, but probably dates to some time after the town's incorporation in 1800 because there was access to the village from the southeast that did not require crossing the Ellis.

The data and construction history of the bridge is unclear. Noted bridge historian Richard Sanders Allen attributes the bridge to Charles Austin Broughton and dated it ca. 1876 (revised to 1876). In an unpublished collection of interviews and memoirs, long-time Jackson resident Adelbert Fernald reports that the bridge was "constructed about the time the Maine Central Railroad was run through Crawford Notch by their engineer in 1870." Broughton's descendents, however, firmly assert that he never worked for the Maine Central, but was a finish carpenter and a lumber company agent who built bridges "on the side." In October 1873 town residents discussed whether to build and/or repair at least two bridges, although the new bridge was clearly across the Wildcat and not the Ellis. Three years later, the town continued discussing the idea of a new bridge across the Wildcat. These discussions make it clear that the town's clerk(s) recorded bridge discussions in the mid 1870s. Further research in the town records may help clarify the uncertainty surrounding the 1876 date.

The post construction history of the bridge is a little clearer. In 1899, the town paid $8 dollars to the Goodrich Falls Electric Company for "light in bridge" - a turn of phrase that suggests a bridge with an "inside." While it is not clear when the covered bridge became part of the state highway system, Route 16, of which the bridge is a spur, became part of the state system about 1913. The sidewalk was added to the bridge in 1930. There are vague suggestions that the bridge was widened at some point, but the seemingly intact upper lateral bracing system and the absence of evidence that the granite abutments were widened reinforces the view that it was not. The date of the arches is unknown.

Joseph Conwill has suggested that the name "Honeymoon Bridge" could have its origins in a 1936 essay written by early bridge historian Adelbert M. Jakeman. Jakeman described fond memories of time spent on the bridge with his wife during their honeymoon. "It might well be named Honeymoon Bridge," he wrote. To date, no earlier reference to the bridge as the "Honeymoon Bridge" has surfaced.

The bridge, a regular stop for bus tours, is often described as one of the most photographed covered bridges in New Hampshire.