The Only Henniker On Earth. That’s what they claim about this little New Hampshire town along the Contoocook River. According to town historians, no other community in the world bears its name.
Henniker was permanently settled in 1761, preserving its quaint town vibes to this day. Earlier settlements were attempted but abandoned to escape some harassment by the Penacook Indians.
Here’s an interesting tidbit: In the 19th century, Henniker had a high rate of congenital deafness so they developed their own sign language. This early dialect had a significant influence in shaping the standardized American Sign Language still in use today.
Henniker is also home to New England College, founded in 1946.
The Henniker Covered Bridge spans the Contoocook River. Also known as the New England College Covered Bridge, it serves as a footbridge across the campus that is maintained by the college.
It may look old but it was only built in 1972. The idea was to replicate an old-style covered bridge using traditional methods. And the builders took the old traditions seriously, even employing a team of oxen to pull the framed trusses across the river.
The bridge may not be historic, but it sure is photogenic. Especially in autumn when the trees lining the river don a coat of vivid colors.
BEST TIME TO PHOTOGRAPH
The New England College Covered Bridge is an early morning destination. Although photogenic at any time of year, it’s best in October when bright colors adorn the foliage along the Contoocook River.
I come here at sunrise to catch the sun painting autumn vegetation in hues of gold. And it’s even better on a windless day when the colorful scene is mirrored on the calm surface of the Contoocook.
Henniker Village lies along NH Route 114. Set your GPS for Water Street and let it take you to the Edna Dean Proctor Bridge, a double-arched stone bridge named after the native poet born here in 1827.
Find a parking space near the bridge, and use the sidewalk on the west side to reach the middle of the bridge. If you glance west, you should have a great view of the New England College Covered Bridge and foliage that surrounds it along the Contoocook.
The most typical photos of the covered bridge are taken from the top of the Edna Dean Proctor Bridge, although there are other vantage points to consider.
If you walk a short distance along the northeast side of the river, you can climb down on the rocks to photograph the covered bridge through one of the stone arches of the Edna Dean Proctor Bridge.
And there’s also a path along the northwest side of the river that leads to the covered bridge, with several viewpoints to capture closer images of the structure.
When using a tripod on the Edna Dean Proctor Bridge, please respect the passing pedestrians because the sidewalk is somewhat narrow. And if you venture down on the rocks at river’s edge, proceed slowly and carefully as the large rocks are uneven and can be very slippery.