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Concord Artist Documents NH's Covered Bridges in Book

A watercolor artist from Concord is passionate about painting and documenting covered bridges all over New Hampshire.

Conrad Young met Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley in Warner at the Dalton, his favorite covered bridge, to talk about his book featuring the Granite State's covered bridges.

This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity.

You've written this book here that I'm holding in my hand: New Hampshire’s Covered Bridges. Can you tell us how that came about?

Growing up as a child I lived on many farms and my father was a logger, a horseman, a blacksmith and I played in many bands. And when I'm painting one of these bridges, I'm going back to my childhood. And we used to swing on ropes and fall into the hay in the barns, and that's the memories that it evokes as I'm doing these paintings.

They do have a certain smell like an old barn, don't they?

Yes they do. The smell of timber, which I'm very familiar with my father being a logger. And I worked in the woods till I was 14 myself, helping him walk.

Yeah there's definitely if you go into an older barn or any covered bridge, there is that iconic kind of aging timber smell that's always there. Why do you think it's become such an iconic symbol of New England?

Well it's so beautiful to look at and it's something that's part of the past. And I think that looking back 20, 30 years that times are better. They were slower and we had more fun. I remember the 50s well and I'd go back there in a minute if I could.

It's kind of a symbol of a bygone era, and in some ways but also about small town America. This bridge that we're looking at here, Warner, the Dalton, why is it your favorite bridge?   

Well it was my first bridge that I painted for number one. And out of all the bridges that I've painted it turned out the best. I look at the bridges. I have my studio at my house, and I have them lined up on the wall. And always go to the Dalton as being my best piece of work that I've done so far.

Do you know how many cover bridges we still have here in New England that are actively being used?

We have 54 that are recognized by the state, and I put the 54 in my book. And the history of my bridge expert, which is an Arnold Graton, who lives up in Ashland. And he's still building bridges the old fashioned way, the way his father did. And they even use oxen to pull the timbers around, and use the old wooden pegs and building them as well as they did 100 years ago. And a lot of the construction people that come in, they want to use the steel and other methods. And it isn't the same bridge that it should be and was.

For many radio listeners throughout New Hampshire, Rick Ganley is the first voice they hear each weekday morning, bringing them up to speed on news developments overnight and starting their day off with the latest information.
Mary McIntyre is a senior producer at NHPR.
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