Introduction: Operation Bridge Rescue (01:59)
One thousand covered bridges once connected the United States; flood and abandonment threatens the remaining few. Craftsmen and engineers endeavor to reconstruct Old Blenheim Bridge. China embarks to save iconic structures.
Old Blenheim Bridge (04:31)
The covered bridge is one of America’s longest single span bridges and an icon of the Northeast; Terry Miller discusses craftsmanship and preservation. In 2011, Hurricane Irene wipes out several bridges. Blenheim Recovery Committee's Missy Graham explains its cultural value.
Restoring Old Blenheim (02:42)
Blenheim residents endeavor to rebuild, enlisting covered bridge craftsman, Stan Graton. Arnold Graton explains authenticity compromises made by using spruce timber and galvanized steel.
Risk Planning (05:29)
In 1855, Nicholas Montgomery Powers assembles the Old Blenheim Bridge on land while masons construct stone abutments; engineers design a safer technique for new construction. Jerry Matyiko assists in moving the structure; he describes challenges.
Countdown to Spring Floods: June (02:51)
The bridge's skeleton must be assembled first. Saw tooth joint locks cut and set; Mike Eenigenburg explains the process.
Countdown to Spring Floods: November (05:00)
With only two trusses built, the crew is behind schedule. They use cranes to hoist them into vertical position; cribs and support points spread weight and reduce flexing. Sliding occurs and workers repair towers and successfully raise the framework.
Historical Spans (05:22)
See footage of iconic covered bridges; in the 1800s, North Americans develop distinct styles. Structures can be found in central Europe; the oldest and most ornate were built in China's forests. Prof. Jack Liu explains woven arch form, protective roofing and weighted tops.
Countdown to Spring Floods: December (02:33)
Trusses form the two lane crossing’s framework; Blenheim building crews prepare to install outer walls and rafters. They examine pieces of the old bridge to incorporate into the new structure; they discover a preserved rafter and add it to the roof.
Countdown to Spring Floods: February (05:37)
While fitting the final rafters, consecutive snow storms slow construction and increase flood risk; covered bridges must be maintained and kept above water. The oldest woven beam bridge stands in Yueshan. Master Bridgewright Wu Fuyong carves dougong for Tunfu Bridge.
Countdown to Spring Floods: March (08:16)
As Schoharie Creek rises, Blenheim builders work to safely place the bridge on abutments. Crank chains steer hydraulic wheels; complications arise due to bridge length and weight. The crew quickly solves logistical problems and roll the structure into alignment.
Inspiring Future Builders (02:23)
Matyiko explains the importance of maintaining Blenheim Bridge. In China, woven arts techniques are taught in schools; see Hu Jingchu's class. He explains the value of hands on learning and traditional architecture.
Rebirth of Blenheim Bridge (06:03)
Workers use 12 hydraulic jacks to lift the bridge 25 feet; they use steel beams and rams to push the span into place before lowering it onto the foundation. Seven years after the bridge was destroyed, town residents tour the structure.
Credits: Operation Bridge Rescue (00:44)
Credits: Operation Bridge Rescue
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