The Little Bridge At Last

Certainly not the most impressive bridge I've paddled to and under but it did prove the most elusive.  Many times I'd tried to reach the footbridge (above) but on each previous occasion one too many beaver-built obstacles persuaded me to abort short of reaching the bridge.  However yesterday, the Tully River's generous water levels convinced me to make, yet another, attempt.  From the north end of Long Pond I proceeded further north and ascended a horseshoe-shaped beaver dam near the overhead power lines.  It was then I heard voices and, soon after, encountered two paddlers heading downstream.  When asked how far they'd made it they answered "to the footbridge" and that was all it took to inspire my pushing onward.  The two paddlers looked familiar and it occurred to me I'd paddled with them before (later in the day I'd encounter them again near the river's confluence with Lawrence Brook)...

At the second encounter I'd surprise myself (and maybe them) by correctly remembering their names, Frank and Earl of the Rhode Island Canoe and Kayak Association.

Following their heads-up I ascended a few more beaver dams such as this one...

...before finally reaching the bridge and going ashore to check it out.  The photo below looks across the bridge and southeast towards Royalston...

After looking around a bit I couldn't help but wonder if the bridge had once served Model Ts and horse and buggies rather than just today's mountain-bikers and trail hikers.  This view is looking northwest towards West Royalston...

In checking old maps of the area I found this 1946 map showing Warwick Road, which connected Royalston with West Royalston, as having passed along this route prior to the completion of Tully Dam in 1949 (a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Flood Control Project) ...
The present-day footbridge is located between the words "Tully" and "River" where elevation 658 is displayed.  The spot was also an intersection with Davis Hill Road.

Consequently a 1954 map of the same spot shows Warwick Road as having jogged to the north in order to avoid the dam's floodplain...

The maps show a building once stood near the spot, and according to The History of the Town of Royalston by Lilley B. Caswell "the first tavern opened in West Royalston was located a few rods east of the first bridge that spans the quietly flowing Tully above Long Pond, where Mr. Elisha Rich built the first house in that part of the town."

The maps also show a cemetery a little ways to the east which, according to Caswell, is known as the "Under the Hill Grave Yard" dating back to 1764. 

The Rev. Albert Bryant wrote of this cemetery:
"To the grave yard come, below the hill,
When the cares of a busy day are still;
And spell from broken stones the names
That kindled Freedom's holy flames;
The dewey pines a hundred years
Have wet the ancient mounds with tears."

"Though breaking day its splendor weaves
Along a million pointed leaves;
Or moon-beams o'er the solemn wood
At evening draw their shining hood;
No light, at morn or evening, shines
Upon the graves beneath the pines."

After enjoying a fine autumn day on the water I encountered Doug and his interesting watercraft at the takeout...
...all of which goes to show that "there is nothing, absolutely nothing-half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats."


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