Provincial Archives of New Brunswick

Covered Bridges: A Part of New Brunswick's Heritage

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Instructions to Eugene Matchett, a Hong Kong veteran who lived at the east end of the Red Bank Bridge upon his appointment as caretaker of the covered bridge on November 22, 1948:

"Your duties in this connection will be to have general supervision over the bridge, see that the floor is kept clean of all hay, straw or any debris that might be a fire hazard to the bridge. Report to the District highway Engineer at any time that you consider the bridge needs repairs. You are to be courteous to the traveling public at all times. You are to see that the lights are hung out each night and taken in each morning, and that they are kept properly cleaned and supplied with oil. Invoices for the oil, etc. to be forwarded to the District Highway Engineer. It is possible that the bridge in the not too distant future will be wired and lighted by electric lights, in which case you are to see that they are turned out in the evening and turned off in the morning. Your remuneration for this position will be at the rate of $35.00 per quarter or $140.00 per year.

      Yours very truly,

       C. A. MacVey
      Chief Bridge Engineer"


Among the colourful names that once graced each location of New Brunswick's covered bridges were: 'The Dan Cupid', 'The Travelling Bridge','The Bridge to Nowhere', 'Most Beautiful', 'Most Inaccessible', 'Youngest', 'Oldest', 'Grasshopper Bridge', and 'The Harry Jonah Bridge'.

'The Bridge to Nowhere' crossed the Nashwaak River, five miles above Stanley, and was the sole survivor until 1971 of 10 covered bridges that once crossed this river. This particular span was supposed one day to service a large new community, built on an election promise. The community was never built, thus the name 'The Bridge to Nowhere'.

'The Harry Jonah Bridge' got its name from a farmer, Harry Jonah, whose cows plunged through the waters below when the bridge collapsed as he was driving them across. The 87 feet long bridge met its permanent demise in 1970.

The Plumwesweep Bridge located on the Kennebecasis River near Sussex gets its name from the Maliseet words for salmon river. The bridge, built in 1911, is still standing.


Reference Number: P173-65

Advertising signs were often painted on the inside of covered bridges, near the entrances and windows where there was light enough to read them. The signs advertised horse liniments, horse blankets, harnesses and farm implements on sale at local firms. Sometimes a sign would reinforce the law governing the bridge with a warning of "Walk Your Horse and Save a Fine" others like this one stated the particulars. P173-65


Covered bridges are often called 'kissing' or 'wishing' bridges. This stems from the commonly-held superstition that to go quickly through a covered bridge would create a standing wave that would cause the bridge to collapse. Therefore, a law was passed to ensure all horses slowed their gait when crossing the bridge. During these moments of privacy, couple passing through would often steal a kiss or two, thus the term 'kissing' bridge. The name 'wishing' bridge held that even in the dark of night the law of going slowly was to be upheld. With bats, cobwebs and moving shadows inside the dimly-lit bridge, travelers 'wished' for safe passage to the other side.