Foster Covered Bridge

The A. M. Foster Covered Bridge was built by Richard Spaulding. It was named for his great grandfather, who owned Maple Glen Farm. The farm, on Cabot Plains Road,  is now owned by the Burtt family.  The covered bridge is a replica of a "farm bridge" over the Winooski River in Marshfield, Vermont, that was built around 1890. Locally it was called the Orton Bridge or Martin Bridge.

Spaulding said that Foster Bridge, built almost a hundred years after the one in Marshfield, is a "boyhood dream come true."  He always admired the Orton Bridge, but it took years to actualize his dream.

When Spaulding was young and his parents went "home" to visit Cabot, they would "pile into the old Buick after supper and drive up the Walden Heights Road to the Walbridge Schoolhouse, where my Mother had gone to her first eight grades."  From there, they drove to Cabot Plains Cemetery to watch the sun set over the Green Mountains.  On his mother's last visit to view the sunset, she remarked that a softwood forest had grown up in the idle pasture and was threatening to block the view.

Years later, Richard Spaulding bought some land that once belonged to his grandparents, including the old "young cattle pasture" and part of the former Hartwell Stone farm adjoining it, directly across the road from the Cabot Plains Cemetery. There was a natural ravine between the properties. As he viewed the gully,
an image of Orton Bridge entered his mind.

Spaulding looked for a student report he wrote on covered bridge design in an
old civil engineering course.  He knew most early Vermont wood bridges were built of spruce, a sturdy wood that is long-lasting, if kept covered and dry.  He calculated a 45-foot span would cross the ravine.  He already planned to convert the grown-up pasture to a hay field. He realized he could fell the spruce trees and mill enough timber to build  a covered bridge.

Spaulding drove to Walden Heights to inspect granite blocks for sale. They were salvaged from an old bridge abutment. Cousin Frank Foster owned a sawmill on Route 15 in Walden, near Spaulding's property; he offered to saw the spruce logs.  Another relative, Doug Blondin, a builder in Cabot, knew the old way to mortise timbers. 
Frank, or "Franny," Foster, as he was called in Cabot,
 could also hand forge iron straps, needed to fasten the bridge deck to queen post trusses, after Doug's crew pegged the timbers.

The three descendants of A. M. Foster began to build a dream bridge. 
It may have been a cold November, but the enthusiasm of the Foster/Spaulding crew never flagged.  They finished in less than six weeks. Pictured are builders Frank Foster, Richard Spaulding and Doug Blondin.

The A. M. Foster Bridge spans the ravine between the two pieces of farm land. Now there is a small pond made by forming a low dam and opening hidden springs. The bridge is too narrow for modern farm equipment - a miscalculation Richard Spaulding found more amusing than troubling.

The bridge brought enjoyment and happy memories to its owner and builder, Richard Spaulding and still delights many others in Cabot. Cabot Plains is a beautiful site to see the sun rise over the White Mountains of New Hampshire or set behind Camel's Hump and the Adirondack Mountains. 
The bridge provides shelter from summer showers, is snapped by passing photographers, and was the site of several weddings. Amy Foster, another descendant of A. M. Foster, married David Sayes in the meadow near the bridge some years ago, in a lovely ceremony conducted by the late Dr. Frank Caffin. The A. M. Foster Covered Bridge may seem whimsical, set in a vacant hay field, but it reminds us of the need to preserve of our heritage of fine workmanship, a value treasured by Richard Spaulding.

 Ric
hard "Dick" Spaulding passed away Wednesday, August 2, 2017, at age 82.   Richard Spaulding was son of Henry A. and  Merna Walbridge Spaulding.   He is buried in the family lot at Cabot Plains Cemetery, near where his mother grew up (at Maple Glen Farm in Cabot).  Mr. Spaulding will be long remembered for his generosity to Cabot and his love of Cabot Plains.  It is fitting he rests close to the farm, the bridge and the community he loved  dearly. 


Subpages (1): Maple Glen Farm History