Nelson Hollow Covered Bridge, New Brunswick

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If you’re on the hunt for covered bridges, New Brunswick is a great place to visit.  The province has 60 of them — and almost by accident, I stumbled upon the oldest one — the Nelson Hollow Covered Bridge — on my way to my hotel.

Location

From Miramichi, New Brunswick, take Highway 8 southwest towards Fredericton.  Once you’ve passed Doaktown, keep an eye out for Lyons Lane.  There should be a covered bridge sign that points you in the right direction.  Take Lyons Lane down to the covered bridge.

My Visit

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I’m sure glad I spotted that covered bridge roadsign on Route 8, and also happy that I decided to check it out.  Nelson Hollow Bridge is just a short drive down a dirt road, and as of 2016, it’s almost lost in a tangle of overgrown brush.

There are a couple of really cool things about the Nelson Hollow Bridge.  One, take a look at the roof.  It’s different than most covered bridges you’ve ever seen — it’s a “cottage” roof (meaning it has four sides instead of two).  Only one other bridge in New Brunswick is built this way.

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A small sign on the bridge provides a history lesson.  It was first built in 1870, rebuilt in 1899, and restored in 1970.

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Also, notice the sign above the entrance.  It warns “$20 fine for driving on this bridge faster than a walk.”  I’ve read that this is based on a very old law, which was based on the belief that a fast-moving vehicle could create a “standing wave” vibration — which could cause the structure to collapse.

At first, I wasn’t completely sure if it would be a good idea to drive over the bridge — either faster or slower than a walk.  So, I first crossed on foot…

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… and admired the evening light streaming between the boards — which have fallen into disrepair.

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I made my way down to the creek, to see the bridge from below.  It looks a bit scary from this angle as well.

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The far side of the bridge is even more overgrown.  It’s tough to tell from this picture, but there’s also a steep hump to climb, right after you get back on solid ground.

I walked back to my car and decided to try driving across it.  The bridge itself held firm, but getting up that hump was difficult — even with a 4-wheel-drive Jeep SUV.

Once I was on the other side, I found another surprise.

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At some point, long ago, the Nelson Hollow Covered Bridge was replaced with a more modern, concrete structure — but the old wooden bridge actually out-lasted the newer one!

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Concrete pillars still remain, but the “new” bridge is long gone.

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I parked here for a few minutes and checked out the old bridge, the even older bridge…

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… and the view of the Southwest Miramichi River.  The covered bridge and the concrete bridge both crossed Betts Mill Brook, a stream that empties into the larger river.

You can’t cross the Miramichi River here, but I soon discovered another bridge that allows you to cross the river on foot.  I’ll show it to you on the next page.

Drivelapse Video

Here’s a look at the drive from Miramichi to Nelson Hollow Bridge:

The Bottom Line

It takes just a few minutes to detour off Route 8 to see the Nelson Hollow Bridge – and driving across it is a real adventure.  If you’re in the area, check it out!

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