Saturday, March 2, 2013

Auburn Street Bridge

Before its final demise, the historic bridge across the Taunton River at Auburn Street was documented by the Massachusetts Highway Department, first in 1921 as part of the department's "Old Bridge Histories" and later in 1982 and again in 1994-95 when it was added to the department's database as one of 170 timber stringer style bridges in the Commonwealth. 

Built about 1790, the Auburn Street Bridge originally consisted of five spans - a central timber stringer span measuring about 15 feet in length flanked on either end by two smaller stone slab spans.  Historically, the bridge came to be known as Covington's Bridge, taking its name from Arad Covington who in 1857 constructed a home on nearby River Street. 

MHD records note that alterations to the bridge were "major and virtually continuous."  In late 1927, the Middleboro Gazette recorded the collapse and subsequent replacement of the abutment on the Middleborough side.  In 1948, the wooden guard rail required repair after having been struck by a hit and run driver.  Following flooding in 1955, the two southern (Middleborough) stone slab spans were replaced with a single stringer span and the southern abutment replaced with a timber pile bent in 1956, the work being done by Barnes and Jarnis, engineers.  Sometime after 1960, and most likely in 1978 when the bridge was reported as having been "40% restored", the two stone slab spans on the northern (Bridgewater) end were replaced with a single stringer span.  Following these alterations, the bridge measured 67 feet in length and had three spans of 22, 24 and 19 feet.

The wood railings were replaced after 1981 with industrial style steel guardrails.  By 1995 the bridge was closed to vehicular traffic.  Shortly afterwards, the framing and decking was removed though remnants may still be seen at the site.

Auburn Street Bridge, photograph, Massachusetts Highway Department, April 1981.
The view is taken from the Middleborough end of the bridge, looking north towards Bridgewater.

Auburn Street Bridge, photograph, Massachusetts Highway Department, April 1981.
The Auburn Street Bridge is viewed looking upstream along the Taunton River.  Bridgewater is on the left (north bank) and Middleborough on the right (south bank).

Massachusetts Cultural Resource Inventory System, Inventory Form BRD.914/MID.915, prepared by S. J. Roper, October 30, 1995.

Middleboro Gazette, October 7, 1927, p. 1; November 25, 1927, p. 1; August 13, 1948, p. 4.