First Bridge Across Saxtons River

 

The first bridge across Saxtons River, at any point in its course, was near its mouth, almost exactly where the present Boston & Maine Bridge is. It was built in 1786, and, since that date, four highway bridges have crossed the river near this point, as various necessities have arisen.

On October 24, 1786, at its session held at Rutland, the Vermont Legislature granted to Benjamin Burt, Eliakim Spooner and Jesse Burke, all of Westminster, the authority to "levy a tax of one penny per acre on each acre of land in Westminster to furnish the funds wherewith to erect the first bridge across the Saxtons River, near its mouth."

A system prevailed early in the settlement of this vicinity, as well as in all New England, of holding lotteries under legal sanction, the profits of which were to be used in defraying many of the large enterprises of the day, as well as many of a more private nature.

In 1797, the people of the town of Rockingham, for the purpose of procuring money to make roads and bridges, chose Dr. Samuel Cutler, Elijah Knight, and Levi Sabin "to visit the next General Assembly and petition and pray for a lottery." The same year, in August, Benoni Aldrich petitioned the selectmen, setting forth that "by the great rains, which have fallen of late, the bridge across Saxtons River, so called, was carried away, and the roads and bridges in other places much injured" asking that "a town meeting be called to see what measures shall be taken for rebuilding the bridge."

At this meeting, strong opposition developed "as the river could be forded when the water was low, and, in winter, it could be crossed on the ice" and consequently no bridge was needed. This resulted in the bridge not being replaced for several years.

 

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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