The historic Ashokan-Turnwood Covered Bridge is located at the Ashokan Center in the Catskills hamlet of Olivebridge, New York. The bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places “as a rare and substantially intact example of rural vernacular bridge design and construction in the Catskill region.”
The Ashokan-Turnwood Covered Bridge was originally built in 1885 by Nelson Tompkins to span the Beaver Kill in the small western Catskills hamlet of Turnwood, town of Hardenbergh, Ulster County. The hamlet of Turnwood, and thus the bridge, took its name from the small hand turning mill owned by Hooper Tripp that was located there.
As the covered bridge approached 50 years of age it was becoming increasingly dangerous due to growing automobile and truck traffic, as well as limited sight lines and the sharp turns required at both portals. In 1934 the bridge was declared unsafe by the local government. In 1938 severe local flooding damaged the stone abutments. The following year, in 1939, after being replaced by a modern steel bridge, the Ashokan-Turnwood Covered Bridge was sold at auction for one dollar to prominent businessman Lester A. Moehring. All the bridge parts were numbered, dismantled, moved, and reconstructed at its current location, then Moehring’s private estate.
In 1955 the Moehring property was sold to Frank V. Banks, who renamed the property Barrington Lodge. Banks only owned the property for two years, selling it in 1957 to the State University Teacher’s College at New Paltz, now SUNY New Paltz, for use as recreational camp for students and faculty. It was later used for the outdoor education of schoolchildren and for teacher training. In 2008 the property was sold to the Open Space Conservancy, who in turn sold a portion of the land to the New York City Department of Environmental Protection to facilitate water supply operations and the rest of the land to the non-profit Ashokan Foundation.
At its current location the single span Ashokan-Turnwood Covered Bridge crosses over the famed Esopus Creek, immediately east of Winchell Falls. The bridge portals are oriented north and south. The bridge measures 72 feet long and 16 feet wide. It is constructed using the town lattice truss design and is set upon on abutments of dry laid fieldstone capped with concrete.
The Ashokan-Turnwood Covered Bridge is currently located on the property of the Ashokan Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to outdoor and environmental education. Located on over 370 acres, the Ashokan Center hosts school and hobby groups as well as community events such as blacksmithing, square dancing, guitar camp and a fall festival. The beautiful property is like taking a step back in time being home. In addition to the Ashokan-Turnwood Covered Bridge, beautiful sites at the Ashokan Center include Winchell Falls, Cathedral Gorge, an 1817 schoolhouse, a large lake, a barnyard and a horse pasture. The Ashokan Center, historically known as The Ashokan Field Campus Historic District, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Visit the Ashokan Center website at www.ashokancenter.org for more information.