No votes cast

Bancroft Falls Bridge (Older)

The interesting history of the Bancroft Falls Bridges 

Written by Michael Quiet

A remarkably fascinating story, this bridge consist of several prolific builders from the region/era, legal battles, and relocation/reuse all in the course of a year. This bridge was fabricated by King Iron Bridge Co. in 1887 for the town of Messena NY. Once shipped to the site though, the town decided it wanted a single span over the Raquette River, which was prone to flooding and heavy ice. King refused to take the bridges back, so the town instead contracted with Berlin Iron Bridge co. for a single span lenticular truss (http://bridgehunter.com/ny/st-lawrence/bh72241/).

As part of the payment, the town gave the two unused trusses to Berlin Iron Bridge Co., who quickly looked for a way to offload the trusses. The opportunity presented itself at Bancroft Falls in Sheldon VT, Where damage from a flood in the Summer of 1887 necessitated the need for a new bridge. Berlin won the contract with a bid of $5,300 and subcontracted with the regionally important Vermont Construction Company for the abutments and piers. The completed bridge was accepted by the town in November of 1887.

Not 6 months later the bridge was destroyed by spring flooding in March of 1888. Ice and high water caused the center pier to fail, leading to the destruction of the truss spans. Given that the bridge was warranted for 25 years, a lawsuit ensured between Berlin Iron Bridge Co. and Vermont Construction Co. as to the liability. In the end the Jury sided with Berlin that the pier hadn't been suitably built to withstand the troublesome riverbed.

With the cost covered, Berlin offered to rebuild the bridge as either a single span Lenticular truss or a Suspension Bridge, with a suspension offering a cheaper alternative. The resulting bridge (http://bridgehunter.com/vt/franklin/bancroft-falls/) lasted until itself too was destroyed by flooding in 1927


Lost Pratt through truss bridge over Missisquoi River on old road
Sheldon, Franklin County, Vermont
Fabricated 1887 by King Bridge Co; Erected 1887 by Berlin Iron Bridge Co; Collapsed 1888
- Berlin Iron Bridge Co. of East Berlin, Connecticut (Contractor)
- King Bridge Co. of Cleveland, Ohio (Superstructure)
- McDonald and Merrill (Substructure)
- Thomas Stackpole (Mason)
- Vermont Construction Co. of St. Albans, Vermont (Substructure Contractor)
Pratt through truss
Approximate latitude, longitude
+44.90975, -72.97284   (decimal degrees)
44°54'35" N, 72°58'22" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
18/660021/4974924 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Sheldon Springs
Inventory number
BH 74999 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • January 1, 2017: Essay added by Michael Quiet

Related Bridges 


  • Michael Quiet - mquiet [at] gmail [dot] com