How Colonel Enoch Hale Lost The Toll Bridge

 

An incident of much interest in the history of the old toll bridge across the Connecticut River at this point was told by the descendants of Col. Enoch Hale, who built the bridge across the Connecticut River, the only one then in its entire length. In its early years, it had a great reputation for its scenic surroundings.

Col. Hale, although a man of some wealth during the most of his life, became involved at one time and mortgaged the toll bridge. About the year 1800, the mortgage fell due. It was to Rudolph Geyer, a wealthy Englishman, who had built, and occupied a portion of the year, the large three-story dwelling that is shown in a painting of the first bridge now hanging in the town library. It was known in all the later years as the " Tucker Mansion" and was taken down when the Cheshire Railroad was built in 1848. Mr. Geyer had another home at Boston and spent a large part of each year in that city. He had for a long time coveted the ownership of the bridge as a good paying piece of property, but Col. Hale held to it with an iron grip. The mortgage referred to being a time mortgage of the class that, if not paid when due, the bridge would pass into the ownership of the mortgager, making it important that the amount be paid before a certain day. Col. Hale hustled around and barely raised the amount in time to send it to Boston to reach there the day before it should pass out of his hands.

He sent the money by a son, who went by stage. In stopping at a hotel on the way, he met his wife from whom he had separated some years before. At the hotel, the old difficulties were discussed and satisfactorily adjusted, but, in his renewed joys, he became forgetful of trust and delayed his trip till it was too late to reach Boston in time to pay the mortgage. He rushed into Mr. Geyer's office the day after it had become due, and was informed the money would not be accepted, and that his father had lost the bridge through his delay.

Mr. Geyer, obtaining an ownership in this questionable manner, retained it until his death, which occurred about 1820. In the division of this estate, the bridge fell to a daughter who had married Nathaniel Tucker, from whose ownership it has since been known as the "Tucker Bridge."

The old bridge was replaced in 1840 by the present Lattice Truss Bridge, which has been a landmark here ever since its erection. The original bridge was what was known as a half deck bridge and the sides came only six or eight feet above the roadway. It was located just where the present bridge is, except that it was lower down in the gorge some 15 feet, there being a sharp incline at each end to reach it.

 

Based on: The Connecticut River Valley in southern Vermont and New Hampshire: historical sketches, Rutland, Vt.: Tuttle Co., Marble City Press, 1929.

 

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