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North By Northwest

The Housatonic River and a HillAs I mentioned in my last post, fellow Nutmeg State blogger and real-life friend Princess Patti of Ansonia in the Valley and myself ventured out on a beautiful October Saturday in search of foliage and other Northwestern Connecticut sites. Sadly, we seemed to be a bit late for any fabulous foliage finds but we had a good time nonetheless as we wandered the highways and by-ways of parts of Connecticut I'd only seen on a map before.  I think we meant to get to Kent Falls State Park as there's a rather famous - by Connecticut standards - waterfall there but either I took the wrong turn in Albuquerque or we opted to forgo it this trip as we never got there.

Instead of heading south towards Kent we turned towards the town of Cornwall Bridge and points north.  Along the way (I'm pretty sure it was after I accidentally blew through the stop sign at the bottom of that big hill!) we made a stop alongside scenic Route 7 as it ran parallel to the Housatonic River as I thought it might be nice to take some pictures of the fly-fishermen that are as drawn to the Housatonic as the fish are to the flies on the ends of their lines.  I was trying to take the pictures as surreptitiously as possible so as not to spoil the zen that the fishermen feel with the river so they aren't the best ever but I did manage to net a few semi-decent shots ... pun intended!

Connecticut Fly-Fisherman

Casting

Fly-Fisherman on the Housatonic River

In addition to the guys who were standing out in the river in their waders, there were these two guys that went to a lot of trouble to get themselves situated on their raft ...

Gearing up to go rafting

Raft on the Housatonic River

Fishing from a raft

It seemed like an awful lot of work just to go a very short ways out onto the river ... 

Those Rafting Guys Again!

... and then stop right smack in the middle of a spot where one of the guys on the shore was casting!  I guess the guys in the waders were okay with it as I didn't see anyone making any rude gestures but I don't think I'd have been quite as gracious.  I don't know ... maybe they feel there's enough trout for everyone to go around as after all, it's all "catch and return" anyway.

Dems Da Rulz!

Rumor has it that fly-fishing is very therapeutic and relaxing though I have to wonder if any of those guys ever think about maybe sneaking just one little fish home with them? Nah ... probably not!

Back in the car and continuing up Route 7, we soon came to one of the three historic wooden covered bridges that Connecticut has.  Three?  Can you believe it?  And we call ourselves a New England state - seriously?!?  Oh well, I guess it's better than not having any historic covered bridges at all - like Rhode Island!

Bridge

The West Cornwall Covered Bridge sits at the intersections of Route 7 and Route 128 - more or less - and provides one covered lane on the Sharon-Goshen Turnpike (aka Route 128).  To say it's a busy bridge would be an understatement of the highest caliber as lots and lots of tourists flock to see it - including Patti and myself though I am loathe to call myself a tourist ... I prefer "historian with a camera!"

American Flag in West Cornwall

Finding a place to park was a little tricky as it appeared that everybody and their brother was out trying to catch the last of fall's colors but luckily for us a spot opened up and we swooped in like hawks for the kill before someone else could snatch up the coveted spot.  Lord, I was feeling more and more like a tourist with every passing moment!  Oh well, when in Rome ... grabbing my camera in one hand and a donut in the other (it was past noon and I hadn't eaten all day!) we jumped out of the car and joined everyone else trying to find just the right angle from which to take a picture.

Cornwall Bridge

Getting a good picture was going to be tough as the sun was in about the worst spot for picture-taking but I didn't drive all the way to West Cornwall to go back without some sort of halfway decent shot!  After all, that part of Connecticut is most definitely off the beaten path for me though I've been thinking that perhaps Patti and I need to make a winter tour of the area at some point.  There should would be a lot less tourists and maybe we'd actually get over to Kent Falls.  Anyway, I digress ... allow me to tell you some about the West Cornwall Covered Bridge ...

West Cornwall Covered Bridge

Built of red spruce timber, which is stronger than oak, and secured with wooden pegs aka treenails which are slotted and wedged to hold them in place at every intersection, the 172-foot bridge was built in 1864 though it was mistakenly thought to have been built in 1841 to replace a previous bridge that had washed away during a flood in 1837. Research by Michael R. Gannett for the Cornwall Historical Society has shown that the correct date of construction was 1864. Apparently there were a good number of bridges built on this particular spot but they were wiped out by the river via either flood or ice - the current bridge got lucky and stayed put!

The West Side of the West Cornwall Covered Bridge

The design of the West Cornwall Bridge is Town Lattice Truss with the addition of Queenspost Truss in 1887 to give the bridge additional support as wooden trusses have a tendency to sag. Even though its painted a pretty red, up until 1957 the bridge was actually a plain old weathered gray color.

Side of the West Cornwall Covered Bridge

The width of the bridge is a mere 15 feet so it's obviously one lane only - a very busy one lane I might add! The Connecticut Department of Transportation rehabilitated the bridge in 1973 by inserting a concealed steel deck to bear the weight of the frequent traffic. The project won the Federal Highway Administration's outstanding historic preservation award and in 1975 the bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Inside the West Cornwall Covered Bridge

The picture below as well as the one above gives you a good idea of what the truss design looks like but what it also gives you is a good idea of just how filthy, dirty this bridge is.  I told Patti that I have never ever seen such a filthy covered bridge and considering its popularity, it might be a good idea for someone to do some power-washing!  Nothing like having a popular tourist spot and it's covered in dirty cobwebs and a coat of grime.  Way to go West Cornwall!  Seriously, you folks need to get on this, it's a real embarrassment!

The Gross Inside of the West Cornwall Covered Bridge

At least the windows aren't covered with filthy window panes so there's still a lovely view of the Housatonic River and as you can see, it's a very scenic spot even with a lot of the foliage gone by the wayside.

Bridge Window View to the West

The Housatonic River from the Bridge

This part of the Housatonic is popular not only with fly-fishermen but with kayakers, too.

Kayaker in the Housatonic River

Kayaker Battling the Current

Kayakers on the River

I managed to snap a quick picture of Patti also taking pictures inside the cobweb-covered bridge

Princess Patti in the Shadows

- before I stepped to the side to allow this beautifully restored vintage car to make its way over the planks.

Old Car Meets Old Bridge

Despite the fact that it's a mess inside, the West Cornwall Covered Bridge really is a beautiful bridge and its no wonder that it makes an appearance in commercials on a regular basis as well as the occasional newscast. Maybe our new governor will find out what a real mess it is inside and head out there with a bucket and a mop and see if he can clean it up a bit!

West Cornwall Covered Bridge

Even though the bridge and the surrounding countryside was very pretty, one of the sights that I found the sweetest had nothing to do with the landscape but with this cute little old couple who were sitting on a bench nearby the bridge sharing a lunch.

Sharing a Lunch

As romantic as covered bridges may be to most people, I don't think there's anything much more romantic than a couple this age who obviously still enjoy each other's company.  Granted, they could have met just recently but I kind of doubted it the way they were interacting with each other. As a divorcĂ©e twice-over who still hasn't given up on the old concept of romanticism, seeing these two did my middle-aged heart good and now that I have a lump in my throat from knowing that I'll probably never have an old sweetheart to share lunch with by a bridge on a beautiful October afternoon, I'll just end this post with my favorite picture from the many that I took before I find a nice corner to go cry in ...

The View from the Bridge

Don't worry though, I'll stop feeling sorry for myself long enough to post more of the road-trip Patti and I took soon!


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