With the Blenheim Bridge rebuilt, what to do with the salvaged pieces of the past?


By Patsy Nicosia

What do you do with a barnful of pieces from an 1855 covered bridge, salvaged from the Schoharie Creek after a 100-year flood?
Don Airey will let you know when the Town of Blenheim decides.
Friday, Schoharie County supervisors closed out the FEMA-funded $860,000 Blenheim Bridge project; the rebuild came in 45 days ahead of schedule and $200,000 under budget.
As part of that, supervisors officially turned ownership of the remaining debris from the original bridge over to Blenheim and the Long-Term Community Recovery Committee.
One of the first communities to pick up the pieces after Hurricane Irene washed away the historic bridge in August 2011, the Blenheim LTCRC has focused on rebuilding it as a way to economic growth and recovery.
The project, which took most of a year, was the subject of a BBC documentary and in August, a ribbon-cutting celebrated the bridge’s return.
“This will be my last Blenheim Bridge report,” Flood Recovery Coordinator Bill Cherry said Friday.
Except for one thing: what to do with the mostly smashed and water-logged bridge timbers, iron work, a truss, and other debris, recovered from the Schoharie Creek in being stored in and behind a local barn since the flood.
The pieces fill a barn that’s probably 15-feet-by-20-feet-by-20-feet, Mr. Airey, Blenheim’s supervisor said, and there’s a pile even higher out behind the barn.
Mr. Airey said he’s been contacted by people from as far away as Canada interested in a piece of the bridge and the BLTCRC has been looking ways to leverage that into for fundraising or other projects.
One obvious place for some of the pieces—maybe even the truss—is the Old Stone Fort, where the original bridge’s battered sign is now housed.
“We have several ideas in mind,” Mr. Airey said.
“I’ll come back to you when we decide.”