“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Newfield in Tompkins County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

A Lasting Legacy

A Lasting Legacy Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, July 15, 2017
1. A Lasting Legacy Marker
Inscription.  Today the Covered Bridge is Newfield's most prized icon, rich with memories of those whose travels have taken them through this historic site. If it could only talk, what extraordinary stories we would hear...

The Newfield Covered Bridge was constructed between 1851 and 1853. Stone masons Benjamin Starr and Dick Russell laid the abutments for the bridge. Carpenters for building the bridge were Samuel Hamm and his two sons David and Sylvester, David Dassance, and Patchen Parsons. At the time of the bridge's construction, men would work for $1.00/day and the cost of lumber was only $6.00 per one thousand feet. The total cost of the bridge was $800 and measured 115 feet long and 16 feet wide.

The design of the Newfield Covered Bridge is called the Town Lattice Truss. Many of the covered bridges still standing today are of this Town Lattice pattern, which was patented in 1820 and 1835 by architect Ithiel Town, of New Haven, Connecticut. By this technique, planks are joined together with wooden pins, or trunnels, in a lattice pattern. This type of framework is actually an uninterrupted series of crisscross diagonals
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and, it was said, could be built by the mile and cut off by the yard. This was an easier and less expensive way to build bridges and lighter timbers could be utilized, yet provide reliable and enduring strength.

The Newfield Covered Bridge has undergone various repairs and restorations throughout its lifetime. In 1969, due to the bridge's poor condition, Tompkins County was actually thinking of replacing the Covered Bridge with a steel and concrete bridge. The New York State Covered Bridge Society, in a joint effort with Grant and Marie Musser, worked many long hours convincing authorities to preserve the bridge. Finally, their hard work paid off and the bridge underwent a "facelift" in 1972. The portal entrance was raised two feet in order for cars to have enough clearance, the entire bridge was raised one foot, and an addition of two arches running along each side of the bridge were added for support. Milton S. Graton and his two sons of Ashland, New Hampshire, specialists in restoring wooden covered bridges, did the contracting work. The total cost of the project was $42,000. In the county's effort to continue the preservation of the bridge, another restoration project was planned for 1998. The restoration included an abutment and bank stabilization, new decking and roofing, timber guide rail extensions, a fresh coat of paint, parking lot upgrade, a pedestrian bridge,
Marker detail: 1870 image. Click for full size.
2. Marker detail: 1870
The bridge shown between Luther Bower's furniture store (left), George Goldsmith's house (far left), and a blacksmith's shop (right).
landscaping, and an overlook and picnic area. The total cost of the project exceeded $280,000. After giving the bridge an improved look, Trish and Bob Kane of Sherburne, NY, along with the New York State Covered Bridge Society submitted an application for historic preservation to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. On February 25, 2000, the Newfield Covered Bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Did you know?
• The Newfield Covered Bridge is the lone survivor of three covered bridges that Tompkins County once boasted and is 1 of 24 authentic covered bridges of the 250 New York State once had. It is the oldest covered bridge still open to daily vehicular traffic.

• The original reason that the bridge was covered was because it was more economical to reroof a covered bridge every 20 years than to build a new unroofed bridge. The roof protected the flooring from the elements.

• Samuel Hamm, one of the original builders of the bridge, wanted to have a mural painted on the inside of the bridge, patterned after the famous covered bridges in Luzern, Switzerland. The artist died, however, and the onset of the Civil War dashed any further endeavors in this area.

• The actual date of the bridge's construction as unknown due to a fire in June of 1875 which destroyed
Marker detail: circa 1890 image. Click for full size.
3. Marker detail: circa 1890
A view of the town of Newfield from Burdge Hill showing the Covered Bridge (center).
all Town records except for the 1811 Town minutes.

• Several descendants of the men who built the Covered Bridge still reside in Newfield today.

Research and conceptual design by Joshua Carrasco (Eagle Project 2003)

Erected 2003.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: ArchitectureBridges & ViaductsMan-Made Features. In addition, it is included in the Covered Bridges series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1851.
Location. 42° 21.771′ N, 76° 35.413′ W. Marker is in Newfield, New York, in Tompkins County. Marker is on Bridge Street just north of Main Street, on the right when traveling north. Marker is located beside the small parking area near the southeast corner of the covered bridge. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Newfield NY 14867, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Newfield Covered Bridge (here, next to this marker); Marie And Grant Musser Overlook (a few steps from this marker); Historic Newfield Village Cemetery (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Estabrook Cemetery (approx. 5 miles away); C.C.C. CO. #1265 (approx. 5.1 miles away); Buttermilk's Rugged Rocks are Recycled Mountains
Marker detail: Early 1900's image. Click for full size.
4. Marker detail: Early 1900's
The Covered Bridge shown with Bower’s Furniture Store and roller rink (left), a blacksmith’s shop, Mont Anderson’s Livery, another blacksmith’s shop, and Beehive (right).
(approx. 5.1 miles away); Buttermilk Falls (approx. 5.1 miles away); Glaciers Cut the Valley; the Creek Cut the Gorge (approx. 5.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Newfield.
Regarding A Lasting Legacy. National Register of Historic Places #00000095
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Newfield Covered Bridge
Also see . . .
1. The Covered Bridge. The bridge crosses the West branch of the Cayuga Inlet and was dedicated to Elijah Moore, who was the son of an early settler. (Submitted on December 6, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

2. Newfield Bridge (Wikipedia). Newfield Bridge is a wooden covered bridge over the Cayuga Inlet west branch. It is one of 29 covered bridges in New York State and the oldest covered bridge in New York that continues to carry motor vehicle traffic. (Submitted on December 6, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
Marker detail: 1900-1910 image. Click for full size.
5. Marker detail: 1900-1910
The Covered Bridge shown with roller rink (left) and blacksmith’s shop (right).
Marker detail: circa 1918 image. Click for full size.
6. Marker detail: circa 1918
The bridge showing the new Baptist church (right background) which replaced the one lost by fire in 1917. The church occupies the area where the Shirley Hotel once stood. In the right foreground is a blacksmith's shop.
Marker detail: 1930 image. Click for full size.
7. Marker detail: 1930
Local resident Dorothy Anderson posing in front of the bridge.
Marker detail: 1951 image. Click for full size.
8. Marker detail: 1951
Harold Russell Kastenhuber is unloading bundles of wooden shingles from a truck. Samuel Mead and Claude Wood are working on top of the bridge as they reshingle the south side of the bridge's roof.
Marker detail: Early 1970's image. Click for full size.
9. Marker detail: Early 1970's
This picture shows the state of disrepair the bridge was in before the restoration.
Marker detail: Marie and Grant Musser image. Click for full size.
10. Marker detail: Marie and Grant Musser
"Over my dead body!" was Marie Musser's response to the Tompkins County Board in 1969 after being informed that the Covered Bridge was to be demolished in favor of a steel and concrete bridge. Grant and Marie Musser are nearly single-handedly the reason why the Covered Bridge still proudly spans the Cayuga Inlet in Newfield today. Their relentless work and deliberation made it possible for the bridge to be completely restored in 1972. Because of their devotion to the bridge they were named the first "Keepers of the Bridge" soon after the 1972 restoration and were responsible for the ongoing preservation of the Covered Bridge. The Mussers continued their dedication to the Covered Bridge so that in 1998 the bridge was once again renovated, along with the addition of an overlook for visitors. At long last, on February 25, 2000, all of the Mussers' diligence paid off and the Newfield Covered Bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
A Lasting Legacy Marker • <i>wide view<br>(related marker visible on left)</i> image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, July 15, 2017
11. A Lasting Legacy Marker • wide view
(related marker visible on left)
Newfield Covered Bridge<br>(<i>south portal • view from near marker</i>) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, July 15, 2017
12. Newfield Covered Bridge
(south portal • view from near marker)
Newfield Covered Bridge (<i>east side</i>) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, July 15, 2017
13. Newfield Covered Bridge (east side)
Credits. This page was last revised on December 6, 2019. It was originally submitted on December 3, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 155 times since then and 13 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13. submitted on December 6, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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May. 29, 2023