Artist Bridge—Sunday River’s icon.
1931 photo taken by Martha Fifield Wilkens.
The covered bridge over Sunday River was built in 1872, replacing one built the previous year that had fallen. Previous bridges had used a center trestle for support the 1872 bridge would not have a trestle. It would match a similar bridge over the Bear River at Newry Corner.
Artist Bridge was named by Sunday River residents living near the bridge who in the 1880’s frequently saw Boston, Hyde Park impressionist painter John J. Enneking painting in the area.
Newry voters first approved a bridge over Sunday River in 1820. Newry’s earliest town roads had included a Bear River and a Sunday River road plus a Mountain Road connecting the two valleys. The Mountain Road ended near the Sunday River bridge.
In 1957, Newry voted to build a new bridge rather than repair Artist Bridge. State and County aid was available to help pay for the new bridge’s cost. Newry also voted to save Artist Bridge. The State paid for replacing the bridge’s roof and has funds for other maintenance. The new bridge built to by-pass Artist Bridge cost $62,859.83 with the town’s share being $2100.s in 1959.
During the 1940’s and 50’s, much of the traffic through the covered bridge consisted of heavy logging trucks. As a loaded truck crossed the bridge its weight caused the bridge’s main support timbers to noticeably sag. In addition to the load weight, load height was a threat to wooden roof timbers.
Photo above was taken November 2008.