Howell Trail Bridge
[ Big Flat Brook, Stokes State Forest, NJ ]

[ NY/NJ Trail Conference's West Jersey Crew ]

Here are some photos from our Howell Trail project in Stokes State Forest.  The existing bridge had seen a few too many years of good service, and was due for a replacement.  Three 35' telephone poles had been acquired as the bridge beams, and all rest of the materials were at hand.  The only problem was that it was about 2 miles in from the nearest road.  Sounds like a job for Superman... (or a pair of skilled draft horses!)


Last Updated: 07/11/2003

First, we want to recognize the folks who made this project possible for our crew:  


Harry Bohlman and Helen Hopkins, owners of 4H Timber Harvesters, Pipersville, PA.  


Even though they were not successful in a bid for work elsewhere in the parks, they volunteered their time and donated the considerable resources, time and talent to perform what I can only describe as 'magic'.  They and their 2 Percherons, Toby & Tom, delivered the 3 telephone poles to within 20 feet of where we were going to be working.  The crew is in their debt - big time!


Helen harnessing the team 01 (MLR).jpg (47088 bytes) The work began the week before the scheduled work trip weekend.  Harry, Helen, Tom & Toby arrived at the Steam Mill campground in Stokes on Wednesday.  They unloaded the horses, tied them out, and then surveyed the delivery route.  The route was decided upon and any small blow downs and such were cleared out by the park's people, Dennis & Wes and Harry.  [photo by Monica Resor]
Percherons7.jpg (419122 bytes) Tom & Toby are an experienced team.  Each has their own personality, but together, they could probably move a mountain.  And after a day commuting in their trailer and then tied up all night, they were ready to GO!  [photo by David Day]
Setting the load onto the drawbar 01.jpg (267822 bytes) The poles had been dropped along side the road and were waiting to be delivered.  Here, Helen is binding one of the poles to the drawbar.  Harry is checking the harnesses.  One thing that was amazing was that all that chain and steel drawbar getup was hooked to a leather harness set.  [photo by David Day]
Starting Out 03 (MLR).jpg (34175 bytes) Once a pole was chained to the drawbar, Helen began driving the horses up the road to where they would enter the woods along the Parker Trail.  [photo by Monica Resor]
Starting Out 02.jpg (309282 bytes) The hardest part about this photo was keeping them in sight!  Those two horses took off with that 2500 pound pole like they were out for a buggy ride.   [photo by David Day] 
Percherons6.jpg (423996 bytes) At one point they had to stop to adjust the chain binding the pole to the drawbar, and Larry was able to run and get ahead of them for this photo.  [photo by Larry Wheelock]
Under Way 05.jpg (274357 bytes) I barely got this shot off before they went by.    [photo by David Day]
Under Way 06 (MLR).jpg (53729 bytes) Considering they were working with 'only' 2 horsepower, they moved easily through the woods.  [photo by Monica Resor]
Under Way 07 (MLR).jpg (51635 bytes) Given that they were basically just dragging the poles, there was an amazingly small amount of impact from the entire process.  As Percherons go, Tom and Toby were a bit on the light side, minimizing how much impact their feet made.    [photo by Monica Resor]
Percherons5.jpg (596739 bytes) And then, another view of them zooming away through the woods ahead of me.  It took them under an hour to go the 2 miles from the road to the worksite.  In later discussions, it turns out that these poles were a small load for the two horses - compared to the fresh cut trees they normally hauled.  For them, this was a light day!    [photo by Larry Wheelock]

Two horsepower - indeed!  Ha!

Denis and the other 18 horses (MLR).jpg (43591 bytes) Truth be told, we did have another 18 horsepower working with us on the project.  Here, Dennis stands by his Mule.  He drove all the many tools and the balance of the materials in for us.  This mule was no match for the 2 horses, however, when it came to moving the poles.  Dennis was with us both days of the project and was a huge help, pitching in with the work as well as providing transportation.   [photo by Monica Resor]
Pulling in the new poles 01 (MLR).jpg (70579 bytes) On Saturday, the crew turned out to begin working on the bridge.  We first cut the old bridge in two the long way with at chainsaw and dragged away half of it, leaving the rest as a way across the stream - and as a ramp for delivering the new poles into place.  In this picture, the second pole is starting to be dragged down.  You can see the old bridge 'ramp' in the background.   [photo by Monica Resor]
Pulling in the new poles 03 (MLR).jpg (70427 bytes) Our blessings to Sandy Parr for his insight at keeping part of the old bridge as a delivery tool.  With Dick working away on the Grip-Hoist, all that had to be done was to use a rock bar to free up the leading edge of the pole on the occasions when it got hooked in one of the gaps of the old bridge deck.      [photo by Monica Resor]
Pulling in the new poles 02 (MLR).jpg (55682 bytes) As each pole was dragged down and across the old bridge deck using the Grip-Hoist, we moved remainder of the old bridge over another pole's worth.  Here, Don and I are using rock bars to steer the third pole and (hopefully) keep it from dropping off into the stream.    [photo by Monica Resor]
Installing the new (LW).jpg (909796 bytes) Here, the first two poles are roughly in place and the third is parked on the old bridge.  Don (near end) and Monica & I (far end) are checking the second pole's elevation.  Once we were ready to place the pole, all that was necessary was to use the rock bars to (gently) roll the pole off the bridge and into place.   [photo by Larry Wheelock]
Leveling.jpg (1039354 bytes) Each pole end was set in a 'pocket' of rock, set into the bank as an abutment. As the poles are place, they must be raised or lowered so that their tops end up at the same height.  That is done by lifting the pole end with a rock bar and re-setting the stones in the 'pocket' until the desired altitude is attained.  Dick and Monica had the lifting duty, while I fiddled with the rocks underneath.    [photo by Larry Wheelock]
Installing the deck 01 (MLR).jpg (57339 bytes) Once all three poles were placed and leveled, the decking could begin.  First all the boards were tack nailed in place.  As each one was done, whatever shimming was needed for the middle pole was slid into place and nailed down.  Unfortunately, the poles were not perfectly consistent in their diameter, so even though parts of them were even, some were not.  Here, Larry is fitting a piece of extra deck board in as a shim.   [photo by Monica Resor]
Installing the deck 02 (MLR).jpg (42494 bytes) All the deck boards had been pre-cut to size, but they had to be fitted and spaced properly.  Here, Roland and Shawn are setting the last couple of feet of deck in place.  A 1/2" gap was left between each board to permit draining rain and snow and to avoid collecting small bits of woods - all to minimize the likelihood of having the boards rot out.   [photo by Monica Resor] 
Installing the deck 03 (MLR).jpg (34170 bytes) Here Ann & Valerie are in the process of drilling and screwing down the deck boards.  These two ladies were on their first work trip, but they pitched in like old pros.  In no time at all, they had completed the final fastening process.  [photo by Monica Resor] 
Yanking the old poles.jpg (996970 bytes) Now that we had a nice new bridge to walk on, we did not need the old one any longer, so we ripped the deck off of what was left of it and dragged the old poles up onto the bank.  They will be cut into smaller pieces and used to make waterbars and check dams elsewhere on the trail.  Here, Dennis and I are guiding one of the old poles as it is being winched up the bank and out of the way.   [photo by Larry Wheelock]
Yanking the old poles 02 (MLR).jpg (65389 bytes) Each of the old bridge's old poles had to be pulled out of the river and up the bank for recycling.  At the far end of the bridge is Dick, working the Grip-hoist winch we used to pull the poles in and out of position.   [photo by Monica Resor] 
Yanking the old poles 03 (MLR).jpg (47259 bytes) With the last pole from the old bridge waiting, the end of the middle pole drops into the stream as it is winched away.   [photo by Monica Resor] 
Annie get your hammer.jpg (509284 bytes) With the bridge all finished 'all' that remained was to build up the ground for the approach to the bridge at each end.  This was done by building low stone walls on either side of the outer poles and filling in the space between with small rocks and crushed gravel.  Here, Ann is pounding some rocks for crush-and-fill.   [photo by Larry Wheelock]
breaking up rock2.jpg (869064 bytes) The same thing had to be done at the far end.  Here, Marshall is taking out his frustrations with the 10# sledge hammer.  [photo by Larry Wheelock]
Finished Bridge, north end (MLR).jpg (46527 bytes) Here is the finished bridge, from the north end.  Notice the curbing edges.  This bridge is used in the winter by cross-country skiers (and the occasional snowmobile), so the curbs will help to keep the snow pack on the bridge deck for them.  Also, notice the crush-and-fill approach to the bridge.  The broken rock will quickly fill in with dirt and other forest litter, quickly attaining a solid, smooth walking surface the will not easily erode.   [photo by Monica Resor] 
Finished Bridge, south end (MLR).jpg (42729 bytes) And again the finished bridge, this time from the south end.  This trail is not part of a handy loop route, but it does go through some very interesting areas.  Check it out, and take a walk on our bridge! [photo by Monica Resor] 

There are more photos coming - as soon as I get them, I will fill in the process so you can see the whole job.



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