Bridge of Names in Lake Pleasant damaged in storm, repair outlook unclear

  • Scott Nickerson of Lake Pleasant is lucky to be standing where he is after an oak tree crushed the Bridge of Names behind him while he was taking refuge from a storm Wednesday afternoon. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Scott Nickerson of Lake Pleasant shows a selfie showing his injured nose that he took after the storm on Wednesday caused a tree to fall on the Bridge of Names. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Scott Nickerson of Lake Pleasant points to where he was taking refuge in the pavilion at the west end of the Bridge of Names when a large oak tree was blown down, crushing the structure. Other than some scrapes on his knees and a gash on his nose, Nickerson was uninjured. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The east end of the Bridge of Names was also damaged by a fallen utility pole. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The west end of the Bridge of Names was crushed by an oak tree while several pine trees took out the utility poles. Generators hummed in the background as residents waited for power to be restored. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • A large oak tree and several pine trees were blown down in Lake Pleasant on Wednesday, taking out the west end of the Bridge of Names. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The Bridge of Names in Lake Pleasant, as seen in 2016. Staff File Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • The Bridge of Names in Lake Pleasant, as seen in 2016. Staff File Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • The Bridge of Names in Lake Pleasant, as seen in 1983. Staff File Photo/Chuck Blake

Staff Writer
Published: 10/8/2020 3:15:09 PM

LAKE PLEASANT — Only a few drops of rain had fallen on Wednesday evening when Scott Nickerson crossed the Bridge of Names to pick up his mail from the post office on the other side.

Then, on his way back to his home on Denton Street, the wind suddenly picked up. He sheltered under the pavilion.

“Next thing I knew, I was down in that hole, head first,” Nickerson said. “It was kind of like being in a car accident. You’re sitting there, and all of a sudden, bang. That is exactly what it was like.”

A tree trunk fell on the roof of the pavilion and tore through the deck of the Bridge of Names. It landed only a few feet from where Nickerson had been standing, knocking him head over heels, down the hill toward the lake.

“If I’d been sitting on the right side, I’d probably be dead,” he said

Other than some scrapes on his knees and a gash on his nose, Nickerson said he was uninjured. Meanwhile, the fallen tree left the Bridge of Names with damage to its deck and the pavilion on the west end, although the extent of the damage had not been fully assessed as of late Thursday morning.

Based on a preliminary review, Michael Brown, water superintendent with the Turners Falls Fire and Water District, which owns the land where the bridge is located, said the bridge does not look like it will have to be totally torn down. He was unsure of a potential cost for repairs, and whether it will be covered by insurance.

Although the land is owned by the Fire and Water District, Brown said it is not completely clear whether the district also owns the bridge itself, though he believes it probably does.

The bridge, which was built in 1974 to replace an older bridge, is notable for the long list of names that mark each fence post along the side of the bridge, representing people who contributed to support the construction of the bridge and who have donated over the years for its care and maintenance.

Maintenance and care has largely been handled by the Lake Pleasant Village Association, the group that also coordinated sale of spaces for the names on the bridge.

Linda Emond, a member of the Lake Pleasant Village Association who helped in the 1970s with fundraising to build the bridge and again in the early 2010s to support restoration work, said that nothing of this magnitude has ever happened to the bridge before.

Brown said repair work will probably be contingent on the bridge being covered by insurance, which was not yet clear as of Thursday morning.

“If that’s not the case,” he said, “I don’t know where the funding would come from to do the repairs.”

Reach Max Marcus at mmarcus@recorder.com or 413-930-4231.




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