Is it time to rebuild North Carolina's first covered bridge -- nearly 200 years later?
David C. Fischetti, a Cary engineer with a record of historic preservation, is interested in rebuilding the bridge constructed by Connecticut architect Ithiel Town in 1818, spanning the Yadkin River between Salisbury and the then-fledgling village of Lexington.
Fischetti will talk about the project at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Stanback Auditorium of Rowan Public Library, 201 W. Fisher St..
The Trading Ford Historic District Preservation Association is sponsoring Fischetti's presentation in conjunction with the LandTrust for Central North Carolina, Historic Salisbury Foundation and the Rowan Museum.
The public is invited; admission is free.
Lewis Beard first ran a ferry at that crossing on the Yadkin, but because of an ongoing dispute with neighboring ferries, he hired Town to build the bridge for $30,000.
The 1818 Beard Bridge was the first bridge over the Yadkin River, the first covered bridge in North Carolina, and probably the prototype of the Town Lattice Truss design, patented two years later.
If the preservation groups are successful in rebuilding the structure, about 600 feet long, it would be the longest covered bridge in the United States.
The bridge fell into the river sometime after 1868. In 1899, the Piedmont Toll Bridge was built upon the same stone piers, which still stand vigil above the Yadkin's waters, behind the old N.C. Finishing plant.
The later bridge was moved to Reeve's Island when the WilCox Bridge, the area's first free bridge, opened in 1924.
Local preservationists hope a new covered bridge would serve as the cornerstone of a historic area featuring more than 10,000 years of Piedmont North Carolina history, including Native American settlements; early settlement roads, fords and ferries; Revolutionary and Civil War battlefields; other late 19th and 20th century bridges; and possibly a 16th century Spanish fort.
Fischetti was the engineer-of-record in the project that saved the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse from beach erosion, moving the 135-year-old structure farther inland.
President of DCF Engineering, Fischetti is responsible for designing more than 100 structures annually. Although his work is not limited to historic structures, he has won awards for his work in historic preservation and restoration, including the 2002 National Timber Bridge Award -- first place for rehabilitation of an existing bridge, for the reconstruction of the Tohickon Aqueduct in Point Pleasant, Pa.
Fischetti has collaborated with master bridgewright Arnold M. Graton in restoring the Bunker Hill Covered Bridge in Claremont; reconstructing the Auchumpkee Covered Bridge in Thomaston, Ga; and replacing the Corbin Covered Bridge in Newport, N.H.
"This project would receive national attention," Fischetti said in a press release, "and bring a lot of people to the Salisbury-Lexington area."
His presentation on Thursday will showcase previous covered bridge projects and an overview of rebuilding the local historic bridge.
For further information, please go online to www.tradingford.com/events.html or call 704-633-3125.