Hampton Union, Tuesday, March 18, 2008
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
HAMPTON FALLS — Plans are moving forward to rehabilitate the Old Stage Road Bridge into a scenic pedestrian bridge.
Local citizens concerned with the deteriorating condition of the historic bridge, which has been closed for several years to vehicular traffic, are spearheading the effort to save the bridge. The Old Stage Bridge Committee is a cooperative effort involving Hampton and Hampton Falls. Its goal is to provide safe access for pedestrians who want to enjoy the beauty of the Taylor River, the falls and the historic site of the Coffin Mill. The bridge also provides a critical pedestrian link between both towns' signature conservation open space easements — the Hurd Dairy Farm in Hampton and Applecrest Orchards in Hampton Falls.
Before 1825, there was no bridge over the Taylor River at Coffin Mill. According to the "History of the Town of Hampton Falls" (1900), travelers between the two towns were compelled to "ford the stream, which was disagreeable when the water was high. Those hauling logs from the Hampton side were obliged to double their teams to enable them to get over and up the steep banks." In 1824, the towns voted to build a bridge, which was completed in 1825. It is a classic example of a stone arch bridge.
The state Department of Transportation approved the span's re-opening as a pedestrian bridge. Both towns' boards of selectmen endorsed the effort to raise funds through grant applications. No public funding will be involved in the project. Plans call for repairs and construction to be financed entirely through a combination of grants and private support, as well as volunteer labor and donated services. The committee plans to sell commemorative benches, plaques and granite markers.