Spaulding said that Foster Bridge, built nearly a hundred years after the one in Marshfield, is for him a "boyhood dream come true." He'd always admired the Orton Bridge, but it took a series of events over many years for him to realize his dream.
He said whenever his parents went "home" to Cabot to visit when he way young, 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 her first eight grades." From there they'd drive up to Cabot Plains Cemetery to watch the sun set over the Green Mountains. On the occasion of what proved to be his mother's last visit to view the sunset, she remarked that the soft woods forest in the old pasture had grown up so it was beginning to block the view.
Over the years, young Spaulding acquired some of the land that had belonged to his grandparents, including the old "young cattle pasture" and part of the old Hartwell Stone home farm adjoining it directly across the road from the Plains Cemetery. There was a natural ravine between the two pieces of land, and from time to time a picture of the Orton Bridge would enter his mind as he contemplated the gully.
Spaulding tells of searching through some of his old civil engineering courses for a report he'd done on covered bridge design as a student. He knew most early wood bridges in Vermont were built of spruce, a durable and sturdy wood that will last a long time if kept covered and dry. He figured a 45 foot span would cross that ravine just fine. He'd been intending to convert the old pasture to hayfield by harvesting some of the timber and it could be used to build a bridge -- a covered bridge.
On his way to Walden to visit his cousin, Frank Foster, Spaulding stopped in Walden Heights and to look over blocks of granite that had been salvaged from an old bridge abutment and were for sale. Cousin Frank had a sawmill on Route 15, not far from Spaulding's property, and said he would saw up the spruce logs. Another relative, Doug Blondin, a builder in Cabot, knew the old way of mortising timbers. The plans were made, and these descendents of A. M. Foster began to build a dream bridge. Frank, or "Franny," as he's more commonly known in Cabot, al
The bridge was miraculously completed in a little less than six weeks. It may have been the cold November wind whipping over the Plain, leaving pockets of snow behind tufts of frozen grass and dusting the exposed wooden beams white, that hastened the completion of the project, but the enthusiasm of the Foster/Spaulding crew never flagged. Pictured above are builders Frank Foster, Richard Spaulding and Doug Blondin.
The A. M. Foster Bridge not only spans the ravine between two pieces of farm land, there is now a small pond made by rearranging the lay of the land to form a low dam and opening up hidden springs that keep the little pond fresh and sparkling. The bridge turned out to be too narrow for modern farm equipment - a miscalculation Richard Spaulding finds more amusing than troubling as he drives his tractor around the bridge to get from one piece of land to the other - but the bridge provides shelter from summer showers, a focal point for many passing photographers, and a favorite spot for at least a few weddings; among them was Amy Foster, another descendent of A. M. Foster, who married David Sayes in the meadow near the bridge a few years ago in a lovely ceremony conducted by the late Dr. Frank Caffin.
The bridge is a source of enjoyment and happy memories for not only its owner and builder, Richard Spaulding, but for our town. The Plain is a beautiful spot from which to watch the sun rise over the White Mountains of New Hampshire or see it set behind Camel's Hump and the Adirondacks. The A. M. Foster Covered Bridge may lend a bit of whimsy to an otherwise vacant hayfield, but its being there also reminds us the importance of fine workmanship and the preservation of our heritage.