Howe Pony Truss Bridge Work Begins in Randolph

The Berlin Reporter
November 30, 2014

RANDOLPH -- The N.H. Bureau of Trails and the Bureau of Historic Sites announced that the 1918 Snyder Brook Bridge, on the Presidential Recreational Rail Trail in Randolph, will be lifted from its abutments next week. The bridge, a Howe Pony Truss Bridge, is one of only seven known to exist in North America, is in critical need of stabilization and repair due to its eastern abutment being undermined by Snyder Brook.

Tree removal and site stabilization work has begun and a crane will arrive on scene the week of Dec. 1. The crane will lift the bridge off of its abutments and set it on the recreational rail trail. Abutment stabilization will take place at that time but final repair work and resetting of the bridge will not occur until next summer. The trail will be closed to all public use at the bridge site; however, snowmobilers will be able to use the remainder of the trail, NH Corridor 12, with a reroute in the White Mountain National Forest. Summer users will also have a route around the bridge.

"This project has been worked on for more than a year now and we are very excited to have the expertise of our counterpart, Bureau of Historic Sites, working with us to save this truly extraordinary historic Railroad Bridge," said Trails Chief Chris Gamache. Historic Sites director Ben Wilson, noted "This type of Railroad Bridge is a rare survivor as a historic asset. The bridge is an important interpretive resource in explaining the development of railroads in New Hampshire."


Picture of the Howe Pony Truss Bridge over Snyder Brook on Corridor 12 in Randolph. 
This bridge is considered to be a covered bridge because the trusses are covered.  These types of bridges were also
referred to as a "boxed pony truss" bridges since the sides were covered or "boxed in".
Photo by Mike Quiet from the website.


This is the reason that the bridge was closed last year.  Erosion from the river cause parts of the eastern abutment to fail.
Photo by Mike Quiet from the website.


This is a picture of another bridge with a Howe Pony Truss design.  The Howe truss was patented by William Howe, from Spencer, Massachusetts
in 1840, and extended the patent in 1850 with design improvements. The Howe Truss was originally designed to combine diagonal timber
compression members and vertical iron rod tension members.  However, the Howe Truss was later used in steel bridges.
It's impressive strength over long spans contributed to its overwhelming popularity as a railroad bridge.  The name "Pony" was
added to describe bridges that had a low height.  Photo from the website.

Related Story: Gorham Bridge Trusses Heading to NH After 2 Years in Ohio

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