Brown Schoolhouse Bridge Q&A: Historical

Q1: Is Brown Schoolhouse Road a town road?

A: It’s a Class 4 road, which has not been maintained as such by the town for over 50 years and has become impassible for vehicles, but provides an easy 0.7-mile hike between Beaver Meadow and Bragg Hill Roads. [back to list]

Q2: Why was the original bridge built at this site?

A: The bridge connected Beaver Meadow and Bragg Hill Roads via Brown Schoolhouse Road and led to the Brown Schoolhouse in District #2. That school closed in 1909. [back to list]

Q3: When was the original bridge built?

A: Brown Schoolhouse Road is roughly 200 years old. The bridge was an original component of Norwich’s infrastructure. [back to list]

Q4: How has the bridge been used in recent years?

A: Although Brown Schoolhouse Road fell into disrepair for vehicular use, the bridge remained actively used for travel on foot and bicycles. The bridge provided an important connection to the Bill Ballard Trail and Norwich’s “Grand Canyon”. To see recent survey responses about users’ impacts due to loss of this bridge, click here. [back to list]

Q5: When did the old bridge collapse?

A: The bridge collapsed at the end of June 2018. Click to see before and after photos of the bridge site. [back to list]

Q6: Why did the old bridge collapse?

A: Unmaintained for more than 50 years, the Brown Schoolhouse bridge gradually deteriorated until part of one earthen abutment collapsed, perhaps due loss of support for steel beams on the Beaver Meadow side. The beams carried a deck of large, flat rocks covered by soil. Click to see the collapsed structure. [back to list]

Q7: What happened to the collapsed bridge?

A: A few days after the collapse, an excavator removed the steel beams from the wreckage. Thereafter, the town cleared the rocks and soil that had fallen into the brook, then removed the dirt abutments on both sides, and cut back the banks to prevent their collapse during high water. Click to see the site after bank stabilization. [back to list]

Q8: Do any abutments remain upon which a new bridge can be built?

A: Nothing remains of the old bridge, which was constructed entirely of large rocks and dirt and supported by several steel beams, which were badly bent during the collapse. The dirt abutments were removed in the clean-up process and additional soil was removed from the site. [back to list]

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