An old postcard, from Maureen Spaulding's collection.
Since the bridge has been essentially closed off and
forgotten to an entire generation of citizens, it would be nice to learn
of the REMEMBRANCES of the senior citizens of Northfield. REMEMBRANCES
of the bridge when it open.
can be posted below and you don't have to give your name should you not
desire to. We do want to catalog the living history of what the bridge
means to the people of Northfield so please write a short missive of
your remembrances of the bridge when it was open.
My daughter Nancy who was attending NMH at the time needed to practice her driving skills before receiving her driver's license. I told her to drive down East Northfield Road and said "Go ahead, cross the bridge!" She didn't want to do it. I insisted. She did it and was terrified at the time. However, the experience gave her courage to cross other bridges without fear since then. This was a good experience and now a happy memory.
When I was in high school in the 1960's, I rode my bike over the Schell all the time and then I'd stop the little store over in West Northfield before continuing ony my way to Bratttleboro VT.
I'd stop on the bridge and look through some holes in the flooring. So you see the old gal is till strong and standin after all theyse many years. I'd really like to ride my bike over the Schell again. It would be really fun.
Mr. Dwight Moody crossed the Schell Bridge to go out to the World; the World came across the Schell Bridge to Northfield in response to him and his Mission. Hundreds of thousands of people from around the world attended the summer religious conferences for more than a half a century.
"In 1947, about 12 or 13 young men and women, members of the Senior Class of Northfield High School, (same location as the current Northfield Elementary School), crossed the Schell Bridge to catch a train for their week long Senior Class trip to visit New York City and Washington D..C. - an exciting adventure at that time."
Carolyn Miller Spencer
"In 1972, when I first began my training to drive the fire trucks at Northfield Fire Department, they had me drive the 14 ton pumper across Schell Bridge!"
"After the Bridge closed, it added 20 minutes onto the running time to the northern part of West Northfield using the Route 10 bridge to answer fire calls."
"Fortunately, we always could call upon the Vernon Fire Department for assistance."
"While growing up in Greenfield in the late 1960's - early 1970's - we'd drive north to visit our grandparents. One family lived on South Mountain Road, the other on Route 142 in Vernon. We used the Schell Bridge to get from one family homestead to the other."
"Born and raised in Northfield, I truly hope Schell Bridge can be saved, if not to drive our cars over, perhaps more importantly, to connect our town again through outdoor activities and the constant beauty of the Connecticut River."
Chris Powers Harris
"I would like to see Schell Bridge preserved and restored not only for future uses and historic value, but also for past memories.
As a student at Northfield School for Girls, (now NMH), we would take the transfer bus over the bridge to the railroad station where we would ride the train to Brattleboro or Northampton for a day of shopping."
Mary Lou Wallace
"In the 1930's, what a picture it was throughout the summer, to see HUNDREDS of cyclists disembark from the Eastfield Train Station, retrieve their bikes from the train and proceed across Schell Bridge to their American Youth Hostel housing at the Chateau (now gone) and a large Youth Hostel building on Main Street (now gone
The American Youth Hostel moevement was founded here in Northfield by Monroe and Isabelle Smith."
Hi, I have a pic I've attached that I had
taken about a year ago that I thought you might like to have. I love the
Schell Bridge as I used to travel across it a lot before it was closed.
I sometimes go to it from the east side and that is the end that the
pic was taken from. The graffiti on the barrier is
fitting. I use this pic as my screensaver. You may use it on your
website if you wish.
Paul Hubner, Winchester, NH
Northfield Mount Hermon 1978-1982 and lived two years on each campus. I
rode my bike across the Schell Bridge dozens of times -- it was the best
route to the other campus when the weather was nice, and a quick escape
on rural roads up into Vermont. Plus the bridge itself was a wonder of
engineering; amazingly graceful. Also neat to end up right in cornfields
and dairies on the west bank, connected to whatever season it happened
to be (silt, mud, dust, corn stubble or tall stalks. My final summer I
climbed down under the bridge to compare it to my model; I was kinda
shocked to see how rusted some of the under-structure was. Fixable, with
money and loving attention. About that moment a big delivery truck
rumbled overhead; scared the heck out of me to watch the bridge shake.
I applaud your efforts to
save it, and wish you the best of luck.
My other major activity
at Northfield, in lieu of a social life, was building cardboard models
of campus buildings (particularly those that had been altered or
vanished). Possibly my most ambitious project was this model of the
Schell Bridge, modeled on a construction photo I found in the NMH
archives. The original photo was taken from high on the Northfield bank,
showing two halves of the bridge being built towards each other;
several men balanced on top of the ironwork. At this stage of
construction the bridge was cantilevered using a counterweight suspended
beneath the shore end of the span. A subsequent photo showed that as
the bridge got longer and heavier, towers were erected at each end of
the bridge, and cables held the end of the bridge in place; probably
also facilitating nudging the alignment. I didn't have enough space in
my dorm room to recreate that. And I only built one side (holding it in
front of a mirror kinda captures the scene a little better; now I know
just how long the bridge is!
The model is built of
white posterboard and Elmers glue; the lattice work (every piece laid by
hand) is paper. I cast the pier and abutments in plaster, and I used
thinly cut cheesebox wood for the "lumber" and barrels. The scale is a
little off, but I used N-gauge engineer figures for the workmen. I see
by some of your postcards (and what I thought at the time was red primer
under the green paint, but may have been the finish paint) that the
bridge was red (not green) back in the day. I figured black was a good
color (iron is black, isn't it?) which happened to coincide with the
paint I could borrow from the friendly maintenance guys. Not ideal but
hard to redo now! I didn't take any actual measurements; I proportioned
it from the photo and memory; in retrospect it's probably a little
foreshortened. The model is starting to age (non acid-free cardboard and
25 years gone by) but still tells a piece of how the bridge came to be.
If you don't have any
construction photos yet, check the NMH archives (I worked there one year
instead of washing dishes). There should also be a photo of the Bennett
Meadow Bridge (Hwy 10) under construction, with towers at either end.
There were also several photos of the Schell bridge in the 1936 (or 38)
flood, rising above the floodwaters extending far to the west.
newsletter photo with the girls walking across the bridge -- I wonder
if that isn't the Bennett Meadow Bridge. I have seen the original school
photo and I think it showed a wider, flatter bridge, which would be the
other bridge (and more travelled route between campuses on those rare
trips to see a boy or girl on the opposite side of the river).
Bridge Models by Ben Pease
Friends of Schell Bridge a non-profit 501(c)3 corporation ¦ P.O. Box 27, Northfield, MA 01360 ¦ info@SchellBridge.org