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Fundraising efforts lead to replacement of damaged Narrows Bridge railings

The new railings with Mt. Chocorua and Chocorua Lake in the background. (Photo by Melissa Seamans) (click for larger version)
July 25, 2018
TAMWORTH — One morning in early February, a 17-year-old Tamworth driver's pickup truck crashed through the cedar railings on Narrows Bridge and into Chocorua Lake. The driver escaped serious injury, but the ornamental cedar railing was destroyed.

For the past 50 years, Chocorua Lake Conservancy (CLC) and many volunteers have built, maintained, and periodically rebuilt the railings at no cost to the town. Most recently, the group spent nearly $16,000 in 2013 to install new railings. When the railings were destroyed in February, the group knew it would have to take on the building project once again and on Saturday, July 21 unveiled the fruits of their labor and fundraising.

Through a crowdfunding campaign, CLC raised $6,775 of their $10,000 goal, and is hoping more donors will come forward to help wrap up this campaign. According to CLC President Alex Moot, the group has never asked the taxpayers of Tamworth to cover any of the costs of building or maintaining the bridge. The work has all been done as a gift to Tamworth and to the visitors who flock to the site annually for photographs. In fact, within an hour of installation last weekend, a bride and groom were photographed there.

Because the bridge and railings are owned by the town, it is up to town officials whether to file an insurance claim, and whether they choose to reimburse CLC is also their call. The CLC board did not want to wait months for the process to work out and go through a summer with the bridge decorated with concrete barriers instead of cedar railings so they moved forward with the project themselves.

The project was delayed a bit from its June target completion due to the cold spring weather. The white cedar trees from a lot near the home of Ned Eldredge in Machias, Maine could not be harvested and peeled until late May. Eldredge spent the last few weeks building the new railings at his Machias workshop. On July 19, he and his friend Myles Grinstead loaded the railings onto a trailer and make the seven-hour trek to Chocorua where they were met by Larry Nickerson. The trio spent the afternoon installing the three sections of railings and returned the next morning to install and secure the final section.

Moot asked that others also be thanked as well including Mike Davis for his welding skills, Forest Land Improvement for use of a generator, Kate Lanou who will be coating the railings soon, and Tamworth Road Agent Richard Roberts for the concrete barriers and use of traffic signs and safety cones. Others who have helped over the past 50 years include Nickerson and his late father Bun, Scott Paul, Sam Newsom, David Lloyd, Alan Phenix, Greg Lanou, Steve Weld, and John Watkins.

There is an inscription on the new railing reminding visitors to treat them with care. It reads, "These railings required lots of time and effort to build. Please do not carve initials or anything else into them. Everyone can enjoy them as they are"

To join others who have donated to the project, visit www.freefunder.com/campaign/ chocorua-lake-bridge-railings.

The CLC is a volunteer-led, non-profit land trust founded in 1968 to protect the scenic and natural resources of the Chocorua Lake Basin and surrounding area through conservation practices, land protection, easements, maintenance of lands for public access, and the development of a community of support. The CLC is committed to providing convenient and attractive public access to Chocorua Lake and trails on nearby conservation lands for visitors and local residents. The CLC owns and manages almost 1,000 acres of conservation land, and protects about 3,000 additional acres through perpetual conservation covenants and easements on over 120 properties.

Garnett Hill
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Garnett Hill
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