Opens the Door to a Rich History on the CT River
When Elias Lyman III turned 21, he received 50 cents in
silver, a “Freedom Suit,” and half interest in a flat boat; the other half was
given to his brother Justin. It was this flat boat that they used to conduct
trade up and down the Connecticut River and to provide the ferry service across
the river at the site of the bridges Lebanon and the State of New
Hampshire would one day construct.
Members of the Lyman family were West Lebanon residents whose 1761 New Hampshire Land Grants from Benning Wentworth gave them property “for a new Plantation” across the Connecticut River in “the Province of Hartford, New Hampshire” (now Hartford, Vermont). The Lyman family built a home and their cotton mill on this land, provided flat boat service up and down the Connecticut River and ran a toll ferry across the river at the point where three successive Lyman Bridges have been erected and where the recently constructed bridge is now located.
The first Lyman Bridge was built between 1797 and 1802. It was an open or King Post, wooden toll bridge operated with the permission of the State of New Hampshire. In 1836, that bridge was replaced by a three-span covered wooden toll bridge, also known as the Lyman Bridge. This bridge was purchased by the town of Lebanon in 1879 and made it free to the public.
In 1895, a temporary bridge was erected and over the next several years, the 1836 Lyman Bridge was dismantled to make way for the first iron bridge. It was this iron Lyman Bridge that was recently replaced.
It was in the fall of 2016 when the City of Lebanon, under former Mayor Georgia Tuttle, made it known to the Heritage Commission that the bridge was being challenged by a group in the southern part of the state who wanted to re-name the Bridge for the Korean War Veterans. A bridge task force was created to study the situation. The Lebanon City Council voted unanimously to retain the name “Lyman Bridge” to honor the historical link between New Hampshire’s Lyman family who established residence across the Connecticut River in Hartford and whose efforts symbolize the historic and physical link between the people of West Lebanon, New Hampshire and their Vermont neighbors.
The Celebration on Saturday the 28th of October, 2017 was truly a heartwarming moment when five members of the Lyman family attended the Official Dedication Ceremony witnessing the new signs placed at each end of the Bridge establishing for all time the name Lyman Bridge in memory of their ancestor Elias Lyman III.
Members of the Lyman family attended the dedication ceremony