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Bunker Bridge

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Bunker Bridge

Postcard published before 1923

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BH Photo #495535

Map 

Description 

The Bunker Covered Bridge was a 45 foot long, Town lattice structure, carrying Union Turnpike (present day NY Rte. 66) across Claverack Creek between the towns of Greenport and Claverack in Columbia County. It was named for Captain David R. Bunker who lived on a farm on the north side of the Turnpike and owned a whaling vessel. The farm was sold to John McKittrick October 12, 1843.

Richard Hallenbeck was sole owner of the road for many years. After his decease, his children, Jacob A. Hallenbeck, William S. Hallenbeck and Gertrude McCullough, were the owners. Jacob A. Hallenbeck was the last owner of the road before it was turned over to the towns in 1903 by which time it had ceased to be a lucrative enterprise. The original Toll Board from the gatehouse at Bunker Bridge was donated to the Columbia County Historical Society by Hallenbeck’s descendents in 1933. The rates of toll had been as follows: For a Score of Cattle… $.10 A Score of Hogs or Sheep... $.02 Horse and Rider, A Led or Driven Horse or Mule ...$.02 Sulkey, Chair or Chaise and One Horse . $.05 Each Additional Horse $.01 Coach, Cochee, Chariot, Phaeton or Other Four Wheel Pleasure Carriages ...... $.10 Stage Coach or Wagon $.10 Wagon or Cart Drawn by Two Horses or Two Oxen… $.05 Every Additional Horse or Ox… $.01 Every Sleigh or Sled Drawn by Two Horses or Two Oxen... $.02 Every Additional Horse or Ox... $.01

The Columbia Republican announced the turnpike company’s decision to fold its tent with a front page story on October 22, 1903:

ABANDONED Toll Gate on Union Turnpike Has Been Taken Down. NO MORE TOLL TO PAY Hallenbeck Estate Controlled it for Nearly 50 Years The toll gate on the Union turnpike, about a mile distant from the city limits of Hudson, is no more. It was taken down on Monday and the county officials were notified by Squire Jacob A. Hallenbeck, who for a number of years was the collector of tolls, that it had been abandoned by the trustees, William S. Hallenbeck, Jacob A. Hallenbeck and Mrs. Hugh McCullough. The pike had outlived its usefulness as a money maker for the trustees and the invasion of it by automobiles, which caused teams to take other directions, helped in a measure to make it less, profitable, and so it was decided to give it up, and the road is now clear for anyone to drive over it without paying a cent for the privilege. It went the way all tollgates in Columbia County should go and will make fire wood for the Squire the coming winter.

Since 1865 the toll gate has been in the Hallenbeck family, the father of the trustees keeping it before they assumed charge. It was in existence long before then and dates back over a hundred years. With the abandoning of the pike by the trustees the old Bunker Bridge over Claverack creek was thrown in as part of the transaction. This bridge has withstood many a flood and tempest and the Ice barriers that went up against it every spring for the past eighty years found it the real thing. They failed to budge it Repairs have been made to the bridge time and again, but the original timbers in the frame work are there still, and some of them are as sound as they ever were. To throw in the bridge to go as a chaser with the pike was all the townspeople of Greenport and Claverack could ask, for it will now devolve upon these towns to maintain the highway and keep it in good repair.

When the Board of Supervisors meets next month the towns mentioned will be officially notified by the county legislature that the highway is theirs to keep and hold forever and the Highway Commissioners of the respective towns will take charge of the pike in their allotted districts and see that the road is properly maintained in the future. As the creek is the dividing line between the towns of Greenport and Claverack each will have to share the burden that will fall upon the taxpayers for supporting the bridge.

The town boards of Greenport and Claverack held a joint meeting to consider the building of a replacement for the wooden bridge in June of 1908. There were reports that one of the abutments was resting on a bed of quicksand and that it might be necessary to get a pile driver to drive piles on which to build the a new one.

On September 11, 1908 it was announced that a contract had been let for a new bridge. Barent S. Rightmyer, of Greenport, was awarded the contract to build the abutments and put up the new iron bridge, his bid of $2,999 being the lowest.

On October 16, 1908 The Columbia Republican announced that, “Relic hunters have secured some of the old wooden pins that held the big timbers together of the old Bunker Bridge, and are having them decorated and hung up in their dens. The bridge was over 100 years old, and much of the timber taken from it when it was torn down was found in an excellent state of preservation.”

Facts 

Overview
Lost Town lattice truss bridge over Claverack Creek on Union Turnpike (NY Rte.66)
Location
Columbia County, New York
Status
Replaced by a new bridge
Design
Town lattice through truss
Dimensions
Total length: 45.0 ft.
Approximate latitude, longitude
+42.25470, -73.75407   (decimal degrees)
42°15'17" N, 73°45'15" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
18/602773/4678807 (zone/easting/northing)
Inventory number
BH 92738 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • April 16, 2021: Updated by Dave King: Mapped
  • April 15, 2021: New photos from Richard Doody

Sources 

  • Richard Doody
  • Dave King - DKinghawkfan [at] hotmail [dot] com