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Hartland Covered Bridge - New Brunswick


Located in the heart of New Brunswick's potato growing country is the world's longest covered bridge. Crossing the St. John River in the small town of Hartland is the Hartland Covered Bridge. Spanning 1,282 feet (391 meters) across the St. John River, the Hartland Covered Bridge features a Howe truss design that is common for many covered bridges across the province. Local agriculture played a role in the initial construction of the bridge, as it presented a means to allow people to get their goods to market.

The movement for a bridge at Hartland began during the 1870s and got stronger until finally in 1890 a delegation of citizens representing both sides of the St. John River went to the provincial government with convincing arguments for the need of a bridge at Hartland. The government just built a bridge in Florenceville about 12 miles up the river and there was no money for a bridge in Hartland, so the argument was declined. The group did not give up and formed the Hartland Bridge Company and sold bonds to raise funds to build a bridge.

The Hartland Covered Bridge was built to give local residents access across the St. John River in a way that did not involve a ferry or an ice bridge. The bridge was constructed by the Hartland Bridge Company, and officially opened July 4, 1901. In 1898, it was estimated that a permanent bridge with eight steel spans at Hartland would cost between $70,000.00 and $80,000.00. However, a competing bid of $27,945.00 from Albert Brewer of Woodstock, New Brunswick was unanimously accepted by the Hartland Bridge Company and the bridge was built out of cedar, spruce and pine using local businessmen and trades. Near the end of construction, costs rose to $29,421.74. Initially, the bridge was a toll bridge, with tolls of three cents for pedestrians, six cents for a single horse and wagon, twelve cents for a double team. A strip of twenty tickets could be purchased for fifty cents.

At first, the bridge was not covered, but became a covered bridge after a couple of decades of service. The bridge was purchased by the government of New Brunswick in 1906 and tolls were removed at that time. Two spans of the bridge were taken out by river ice on April 6, 1920, necessitating that repairs to the bridge be made. Two western spans, the west abutment and one pier were washed down the river and were replaced with wood, plus a new pier was made with concrete. The later phase of bridge reconstruction built remaining piers of concrete and the bridge moved from the wooden piers onto the new concrete piers. And the final phase would be to cover the entire bridge with wood. Replacing the spans and the pier took 11 months to allow the bridge the reopen in March 1921, but additional improvements including covering the bridge were completed by December 1921.
 
Granted, there was some local controversy that arose in the decision to make the bridge a covered bridge. Since covered bridges had a reputation of being "kissing bridges", as some parents were concerned and did not approve of their daughters taking a casual drive with a young man across the covered bridge. With a bridge the length of the Hartland Covered Bridge, the decision was made to place lighting across the bridge in 1924. Additional improvements were later added to the bridge, such as a covered walkway that was built in 1945.

Claims of the Hartland Covered Bridge being the longest covered bridge in the world started during the 1930s in local newspaper publications. There was also a debate for a time that a covered bridge in Norway was longer, but measurements were taken and it was found that the Hartland Covered Bridge was about 200 feet longer, thus making it the undisputed longest covered bridge in the world. The covered bridge also serves as an important tourism destination in today's world, as well as symbol of New Brunswick’s heritage of covered bridges. The Hartland Covered Bridge was declared a Canadian National Historic Site in 1980 and a New Brunswick Provincial Historic Site in 1999. In 1987, the Olympic Torch for the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta made its way across the bridge, and in 1995 a Canadian postage stamp was issued honoring the significance of the Hartland Covered Bridge.

I had the privilege of visiting the Hartland Covered Bridge in the early days of May 2022 and got to witness firsthand the marvelous covered bridge.

Eastern portal of the Hartland Covered Bridge, with a sign telling you that you're about to cross the world's longest covered bridge.

A walkway adorns the south side of the bridge.

Taken from the east shore of the St. John River, you can see that the Hartland Covered Bridge is quite long.

There is a parking lot at the east end of the bridge,

West portal of the covered bridge.

Historical marker in English and French.

Fun facts about the world's longest covered bridge.

Driving inside the Hartland Covered Bridge.


How to Get There:



Sources and Links:
Tourism New Brunswick - Hartland Covered Bridge
Parks Canada - Hartland Covered Bridge National Historic Site of Canada
Town of Hartland - The Bridge
Covered Spans of Yesteryear - Hartland, Carleton County
Canada's Historic Places - Hartland Covered Bridge
MyNewBrunswick.ca - World's Longest Covered Bridge
DaleJTravis.com - New Brunswick Covered Bridges List

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