ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Visiting the Ranger Bridge, Wells River, Vermont: Naming and Re-Naming at an Historic Connecticut River Crossing

Updated on February 20, 2021
State flag of Vermont
State flag of Vermont | Source
Ranger Bridge (Veterans Memorial Bridge) between Wells River, VT and Woodsville, NH, is a steel arch truss bridge over the Connecticut River, built in 1923 to replace a 1917 bridge undermined by a flood in 1922.
Ranger Bridge (Veterans Memorial Bridge) between Wells River, VT and Woodsville, NH, is a steel arch truss bridge over the Connecticut River, built in 1923 to replace a 1917 bridge undermined by a flood in 1922. | Source

An historic crossing at a weather-beaten New England location

The weather in New England can be very severe. Bound up with the Ranger Bridge (seen above from the Wells River, Vermont bank of the Connecticut River as it crosses into New Hampshire at Woodsville) are a great deal deal of severe weather and something of the history of Vermont and New Hampshire also. Since the 19th century, some local bridges have collapsed, whether because of high winds or the rising waters of the Connecticut provoked by high rainfall in these mountainous New England states.

The current Ranger Bridge (a previous bridge at the same location was also known by the same name), over which U.S. Route 302 crosses, dates from 1923. But it is in the nature of things that what is now known as the Wells River - Woodsville crossing should go back further, albeit not under the same name. Even the present Ranger Bridge was at its inception referred to as being at the 'Newbury' crossing with Woodsville, NH. (indeed, this is stated on a plaque at the bridge). While Wells River is indeed within the Township of Newbury, the crossing has for long been referred to as that of Wells River - Woodsville.

But in order to understand something of the significance of such crossings over the Connecticut River one must go back some centuries. While the ending of the so called French and Indian Wars undoubtedly aided the process of European settlement from the 1760s onwards, one must remember that such patterns of settlement in the Connecticut Valley followed as westward dynamic from the Colony of New Hampshire to the expanse of territory west of the Connecticut known as the New Hampshire Grants. (From West of Lake Champlain, the Colony of New York exercised similar designs over the territory of what is now Vermont — although the exploits of Ethan Allen and his Mountain Boys did significantly strengthen the independent standing of Vermonters during the Revolutionary Wars.) While there was no equivalent Vermont personality active in the Connecticut Valley comparable to Ethan Allen, the Connecticut River defines the natural boundary between Vermont and New Hampshire in ways no human personality or administrative edict ever did. Prior to its admittance to the Union in 1791, the eastern boundary of what had by then become the Republic of Vermont was already regarded as plainly fixed.

Thus went patterns of spatial radiation at crossings such as the one at Wells River - Woodsville.

But it is the New England natural elements which have also played a large role in the fate of Connecticut River crossings in the local area. As late as in 1979, the Bedell Covered Bridge (1), linking the same Township of Newbury with Haverhill, New Hampshire, was swept away by high winds. In 1922, the previous Ranger Bridge was destroyed by rising waters. It had lasted only 5 years since its construction.

But today the official name of the current Ranger Bridge in full is the Veterans Memorial / Ranger Bridge. This structure is a steel three hinged arched truss bridge (2). It was designed by J. R. Worcester and built by the Boston Bridge Company. Its length is 79 metres / 259 feet. In 2003 it was restored. The structure is now known as the Connecticut River's oldest steel arch bridge.

March 5, 2020


(1) The former Bedell Covered Bridge gives its name to New Hampshire's Bedell Bridge State Park in the 30 hectares / 74 acres adjacent to the former bridge's site.

(2) See also

Some sourcing: Wikipedia

Former Bedell Bridge from Vermont side, c.1960
Former Bedell Bridge from Vermont side, c.1960 | Source

Also worth seeing

In Wells River itself, the Wells River Historic District includes the ornate Wells River Graded School, dating from 1874 (see also:

In Montpelier, (distance: 38.3 miles / 61.6 kilometres) notable visitor attractions include: the Greek Revival State House; the former studio of artist Thomas W. Wood; Christ Episcopal and Saint Augustine's Churches are significant examples of ecclesiastical architecture.

Stowe (distance: 59.4 miles / 95.6 kilometres) is a picturesque village which attracts many visitors especially during the skiing season, given its proximity to the slopes of Mount Mansfield, at 4395 feet / 1340 metres, Vermont's highest peak.

The Vermont Marble Museum, Proctor (distance: 94 miles / 151.1 kilometres)

Woodsville, New Hampshire (distance: 2.6 miles / 4.2 kilometres)

The Frost Place, Franconia, New Hampshire (distance: 23 miles / 37 kilometres) is a museum and poetry centre based in the former home of poet Robert Frost (1874-1963).


How to get there:

Burlington International Airport (distance to Wells River: 73.4 miles / 56 kilometres), where car rental is available from various companies, is served by a variety of airlines, including Porter, JetBlue, Delta and United, which fly to a number of North American connections. Wells River lies on US Route 302. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Visitors to the United States are advised to refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

Map of Vermont towns with Newbury highlighted
Map of Vermont towns with Newbury highlighted | Source

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)