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Babb's Covered Bridge - Maine


 
The Babb's Covered Bridge is one of a handful of covered bridges remaining throughout the State of Maine. The Babb's Bridge was built in 1976 to connect the towns of Windham and Gorham over the Presumpscot River and replaced a covered bridge located at the same crossing along Hurricane Road. Built using a Queenpost truss design, the covered bridge is 79 feet long and was reconstructed using historically authentic techniques to replicate the old bridge as much as possible. Plus it is one of a kind, being the only covered bridge in Maine built with a Queenpost truss.

The original Babb's Covered Bridge was likely built in 1843, replacing former bridges taken out by a hurricane in 1767 and its replacement that had washed out during a flood in 1843. Other sources point out that the covered bridge was built in 1864 instead. But it is known that Babb's Bridge was named for a local family who lived in nearby Gorham, Maine. 

Tragedy struck on May 7, 1973, when the original Babb’s Bridge was lost to an act of arson. An inexpensive metal bridge took its place to cross the river until 1976 when the current bridge was constructed as a replica of the original bridge. This was accomplished in large part due to the efforts of the Windham and Gorham historical societies along with a volunteer effort that helped raise both awareness and thousands of dollars towards the rebuilding project, with the new bridge having been dedicated with much fanfare on July 4, 1976. It was a great way to celebrate the bicentennial of the United States.

By 2014, the bridge had fallen into disrepair, laden with graffiti, sideboards removed, and holes cut into the roof so people could use the bridge to jump into the Presumpscot River below. In 2015, the Babb's Covered Bridge had to be closed temporarily due to damage that was caused by a snowplow. As a result of the damages to the bridge along with concerns of nearby residents, the Maine Department of Transportation (MaineDOT) called for a rehabilitation of the bridge at a cost of over $160,000, respecting the bridge's original design and function. While MaineDOT continues to maintain the bridge, a lack of manpower and funds makes them reluctant to respond to fixes that result from vandalism. A local group called Friends of Babb's Bridge was also created to provide increased security and awareness around the bridge

In a brazen, yet somehow fitting attempt to see the Babb's Covered Bridge in person, I visited on the same day that Tropical Storm Lee was aiming towards the nearby Gulf of Maine. It was quite windy, not quite at hurricane or even tropical storm force winds, but the covered bridge stood tall in the face of the gusty winds passing through southern Maine.




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