Hancock, New Hampshire

From here...
work has started)
...to here...
(Completed, but
not open yet)
...to ... IT'S OPEN!
(First Horse over
the Betty Pels Bridge)
...to ... IT'S DEDICATED!
Betty Pels Bridge
and Pels Family
September 10, 2011
October 1, 2011
October 5, 2011
October 30, 2011

The Project | October 4-5, 2011 Final Prep | September 10-12, 2011 Work Session | October 1, 2011 Work Session
Updates | Town Meeting 2011 | History | Hancock Home Page
by Hunt Dowse
(as of November 3, 2011)

October 30, 2011 Betty Pels Bridge Dedication


Betty Pels Bridge Sign

Al Pels

Pels Family

Dedication Day

    On Sunday October 30th after the late fall snowstorm, the new Betty Pels bridge was dedicated to long-time Run for the Honey race organizer Betty Pels.

    After some brief remarks by Hunt Dowse thanking everyone who worked so hard to bring the idea of the bridge to reality, Al Pels cut a ribbon officially opening the bridge.

    Al spoke for the family and thanked everyone for the fine bridge. The Pels family then crossed the bridge together as the first family to do so.

Hunt Dowse, November 3, 2011
Photo credits: Pels Family

October 4-5, 2011 Final Prep
and First Crossing of the Betty Pels Bridge!

    The new Mill Rd. bridge work has been completed and is open to all non-motorized traffic in accordance with the warrant article from town meeting in March. The barricades on either end of the trail remain up to remind people that the surfaces are still wet and muddy from all the rain during the construction phase. For now, just go around the barricades and head over the bridge.
    Kurt and his crew did a masterful job grading up to the new bridge height, placing large rocks either side of the bridge ends and even getting some loam and grass seed down.

Photos: Hunt Dowse and Kurt Grassett

     While Kurt was at the bridge, Cindy Pirkey rode her Morgan horse "Esce" across for the first horse crossing on the new bridge. Several people started to use the bridge for walking and running even while the job was being finished.

Dedication of the new bridge
Sunday October 30, 2011, at 2 p.m.

    There will be a short series of remarks and the unveiling of the Betty Pels Bridge signs. Please come down and share in the final step in what has been a project that we can all be proud of.

Story submission: Hunt Dowse, October 10, 2011

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October 1, 2011 Work Session
The Wooden Structure
of the bridge is done!

Photos and details of the work session here

Photos and submission:
Hunt Dowse, October 1, 2011

The old decking is gone!
Kurt's crew removed the old decking
from the bridge on Monday, September 26
exposing the old railroad track supports.

The Keene RR ran right along the edge of
Mill Rd and was probably the source of the rails.

Photo and submission:
Hunt Dowse, September 26, 2011

New bridge, complete with grading

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Contribution and work updates

Hunt Dowse, September 21, 2011
   There's lots of news to report about the Mill Road Bridge project this month.

  First and most importantly, we have reached and slightly exceeded our goal of $6500 thanks to all the people who generously donated to the new bridge. When all the costs are in, we should be able to cover everything needed to complete the project.

    Secondly, the foundation work started on a rainy, misty day (September 20th) when the Mathewson Company excavated a large pit either side of the existing bridge abutments and then formed up and poured the footings for the new bridge supports. By the end of the week, it is likely that the new supports will be in and the newly painted steel girder assembly will be in place.
   Then the work begins on decking the steel with heavy planks and installing railings either side. That should take about a week or so and then the site will be graded to the new height of the walking surface.

    With some luck and some good weather, the new bridge should be ready for use early in October. We'll have a brief ceremony opening the bridge later in the month but once the bridge is ready and the warning barriers are down, the bridge will be open for use by everyone.

   Check this page for details on progress and the opening of the new bridge.

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September 10-12, 2011 Work Session

Click here to view the photos of the work session
Updated on September 13, 2011

and a description of the morning's work
10, 2011
Painted girders & old bridge here

    There will be work session at the bridge site this Saturday (Sep. 10) at 9:00 unless the weather gets rainy again. We will be wire brushing the steel girders that arrived on Thursday 9/8 in preparation for priming and painting.

    There will also be the need to cut some brush that lines the edges of the road near the bridge in anticipation of the heavy equipment that will be on site in the next few weeks.
    Please come by to see the massive steel structure that will support the decking of the new bridge. We could use a photographer to take a few pictures for the record, the town website and Hancock Happenings. And some refreshments would be a nice addition, too.

    If you have any questions, contact hsdowse@gmail.com

Hunt Dowse, September 8, 2011

    There has been significant progress in the last month on the Mill Road Bridge project. A firm quote of $6,500 for all materials and labor was obtained from Cohen Steel in Concord and the Mathewson Company here in town.

    There will be the need for volunteer labor to prime and paint the 40' long steel girder assembly after its delivery sometime after Labor Day. Then the Mathewson Company will pour the footings and concrete supports on each side of the bridge, leaving the original rock abutments as they are now.

    Once that is done, Phil Mathewson and his crew will move and secure the steel assembly onto the concrete supports. At that time, we will install 3” spruce decking and an appropriate railing system for the bridge. There will be grading to the new bridge height (approximately 12” higher than the old bridge) and signs to install.

    Once the bridge is done, there will be an official opening ceremony to honor Betty Pels as we christen the new structure the Betty Pels Bridge later in September or early October.

    Thanks to all who have donated time and funds for this project. We need additional funds of over $1,000 to complete the project. If you would like to donate, please do so by writing a check to the Town of Hancock, PO Box 6, with “Mill Road Bridge” on the notation line.

If you would like to help with the actual construction in September, please give me a call at 525.4069 or email me (even better) hsdowse@gmail.com and I will keep you posted on when we will need help with painting and construction.

Hunt Dowse, August 21, 2011

    The Mill Road bridge crosses Moose Brook on the Class A trail that is part of the old Mill Road that originally went from Antrim Road on the south to Longview Road on the north. Almost twenty years ago the bridge was found to unsafe for normal traffic and was closed to cars. Pedestrians, bicyclists and horses still used the bridge except for the winter months.

    The annual Run for the Honey has used the bridge and Mill Road as part of the Old Home Day running race. Recently, the state inspected the bridge and notified the town that the bridge was unsafe. Later in the spring the Highway Department barricaded the bridge to all traffic due to the deterioration of the decking.

    The first consequence of the closing was the need to reroute the Run for the Honey last summer. Runners, walkers, bicyclists and folks riding horses had to seek alternate routes.

    A group of interested residents got together to see what would need to be done to replace the bridge.

The group includes:

Cresca Albright - Hunt Dowse
Rich LeFebvre  -  John Pirkey
Ginger Smith - Kurt Grassett
Nevan Cassidy


    Inquiries have been made to see what the costs might be for steel girders, planking, abutment concrete, decking and railings. The replacement bridge will be similar to one in Harrisville (see pictures below) and will be built with volunteer labor, Highway Department assistance and oversight as time allows, and will be reviewed by a licensed engineer for specifications.

    Fundraising is underway and as of the middle of June approximately half of the funds needed have been raised. If you wish to donate, checks made out to the Town of Hancock with a notation "Mill Road Bridge" can be sent to PO Box 6, Hancock NH 03449.

    If you have any questions, please call Hunt Dowse at 525.4069.

   Cresca Albright, Hunt Dowse, Rich LeFebvre and John Pirkey went to the Chesham Depot in Harrisville on July 11, 2010 to view a trail bridge built by the Harrisville rail trail group. They met Winston Sims and Don Smith who explained the construction and installation of the bridge.


    The bridge is approximately 24' long and 5.5' wide constructed of hemlock planking over 2 large steel I-beams. There was a discussion about the method of construction, where materials were bought and costs.


    Hunt Dowse met with the Selectboard on Monday January 3rd, 2011 to review the draft of the warrant article for Town Meeting. Kurt Grassett was at the meeting and gave his input on the project. Hopefully, donations can be received in sufficient amount to cover the project. There will be a fund raising effort after Town Meeting.


TOWN MEETING 2011 - March 12, 2011
Warrant Article 15
Mill Road Bridge


    To see if the Town of Hancock will vote to remove the closed Mill Road bridge over Moose Brook on the Class A trail established in 2005 that joins the lower end of Mill Road with Garand Lane and install a walking/riding bridge (no motorized vehicles) in its place. Funding to come from donations. No funds to be raised from taxation. (This is a non-lapsing article and will not lapse until the project is complete or by 2016.) This project to be completed as funding allows. Selectboard recommends.

The Project | October 4-5, 2011 Final Prep | September 10-12, 2011 Work Session | October 1, 2011 Work Session
Updates | Town Meeting 2011 | History | Hancock Home Page