The Hamden Covered Bridge is one of six covered bridges still standing in Delaware County. It is one of three bridges owned and maintained by Delaware County; the other three bridges are
Built by Robert Murray in 1859, this 128-foot-long, single span structure incorporates the Long truss design patented on March 6, 1830 by Lieutenant Colonel Stephen H. Long of Hopkinton, New Hampshire. It is New York’s only covered bridge that incorporates a pure Long truss design, unassisted by an arch or Queenpost truss and is rare to northeastern covered bridges. The Hamden Covered Bridge is one of three covered crossings that still carry traffic across branches of the Delaware River. A contract to construct the bridge was signed between Mr. Murray and the Town of Hamden on April 27, 1859, for the sum of $1,000.
When originally constructed, the Hamden Covered Bridge was a single span, but in the 1940s, a center pier was added for additional support. During the early ’60s the timbers and overhead bracing still displayed advertising for Kendall’s Spavin Cure, Herrick’s Pills, and Ayer’s Cherry Pectoral. The county repaired a lean in the bridge in 1966 by adding two large buttresses on each side. Two new windows cut into each side provided a safe place for young folks to fish and allowed more light into the dark interior. That same year, the bridge received its first coat of red paint. In 1967, the portals had a diagonal appearance, but sometime during the late ’70s or early ’80s the portals were squared off.
Rehabilitation of the Hamden Covered Bridge began in the summer of 2000, with contractor W. L. Kline, Inc. in charge. On July 19, while the bridge was being lifted off its abutments in preparation for the rehabilitation project, an unanticipated mishap occurred. The top chord broke and in order to save the bridge, approximately one third of the bridge had to be lowered into the river. Fortunately, the damage was not significant.
The rehabilitation continued on schedule and included replacement of the tin roof with a standing seam metal roof. Decayed bottom chords were replaced with a single 130-foot glue-laminated chord manufactured by Unadilla Laminated Products in Unadilla, New York. To keep as much of the original Long truss as possible, some truss post members were relocated to accommodate stress levels in different areas of the bridge.
On November 13, 2000 the bridge was moved back across the west branch of the Delaware River and the rehabilitation completed at a cost of $708,000. Great care was taken during the rehabilitation process to restore the Hamden Covered Bridge to its original beauty. With the buttresses removed, and the diagonal appearance to the portals returned, she now stands straight, cambered and proud — a single span structure once more.
On July 28, 2001, Delaware County and the Town of Hamden hosted a celebration of the rehabilitated Hamden Covered Bridge. Wilmer Murray, great grandson of the builder of the Hamden Covered Bridge, was in attendance for the celebration. Delaware County is to be commended for its efforts in preserving their covered bridges.