If covered bridges could tell stories of what has taken place over the years, it would be a very interesting conversation. But what the Upper Sheffield Covered Bridge may have to say is out of this world. Located in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts between Great Barrington and the state border with Connecticut, the Upper Sheffield Covered Bridge utilizes a Town lattice truss design for its span of 93 feet across the Housatonic River. While the current-day covered bridge was built by Arnold M. Graton Associates and opened in 1999 after the original Upper Sheffield Covered Bridge was destroyed by an act of arson in 1994, the original covered bridge first opened in 1837. The covered bridge is not open to vehicular traffic, but you are welcome to park next to the bridge and walk across at your leisure.
The first 132 years of the original Upper Sheffield Covered Bridge's existence were largely uneventful. However, on the night on September 1, 1969, an event took place that would change the history around the covered bridge forever, which was the first historically true UFO encounter in the United States. A 9-year-old boy by the name of Thom Reed was riding in a car with his mother, brother, and grandmother across the covered bridge. After crossing the covered bridge, the family saw a bright light rising out of the Housatonic River. Soon after seeing the light, Thom Reed recalled being taken from his family’s car to a large building that looked like an airplane hangar with large, insect-like creatures walking around the building. He recalled having ended up in a room in the building, and then suddenly, he remembers being back in the car with his family some two hours after originally being taken, but everyone was seated in a different spot in the station wagon. That night, dozens of area residents called a local radio station to report unusual lights and loud noises. Several people had spotted a saucer-shaped aircraft hovering in the sky.
When Reed took a polygraph test, he was found to be 99.1% truthful about the encounter. For this reason, in 2015, the Great Barrington Historical Society voted 6-3 to recognize the encounter as "historically significant and true". This was not without controversy, as some members of the historical society were strongly divided over the events at the covered bridge. Objections have been raised to the placement of a granite marker commemorating the event, as the Town of Sheffield requires that public land not be used for private functions. The site of the UFO park was thought to be on privately owned farmland, but a survey indicated that the site was on land owned by the town. Sheffield town ordinances state that public land could not be used for a private installation, regardless of the merit of the private use. Later, a new sign was put up recognizing the UFO encounter. But in the end, it was the first time a UFO encounter had received this kind of recognition.
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Sources and Links:
Harry's Bridges - Massachusetts Covered Bridges
Pennsylvania & Beyond Travel Blog - The Upper Sheffield Covered Bridge
Visit New England - Berkshires and Pioneer Valley are home to historic covered bridges
Engineering News-Record - A Historic UFO Sighting, A Covered Bridge and an Earthly Dispute
Atlas Obscura - Thom Reed UFO Monument Park