“Vandalism – insect and human- threatens Western New York’s only covered bridge in this historic Wyoming County community.” So wrote a Buffalo Evening News reporter on Sept. 27, 1965. He omitted one other threat to the Cowlesville structure- that of arson and, because of an arsonist, the Cowlesville covered bridge is gone.
Mingled feelings, of shock, anger, and disbelief characterize this area’s reaction to the deed that took place March 17. Mrs. Jerome Hojnicki, president of the Alden Historical Society said today, “If only the deed could be undone or an exact replica of the bridge rebuilt.”
Mrs. Grace W. Willard, longtime resident of Cowlesville, echoed the statement but added, “It would never be the same, even if copied exactly.”
The Reilein Road bridge blaze was seen about 7 pm St. Patrick’s Day by a garage proprietor on Route 354. He telephoned Wyoming County Fire Control at Warsaw and the Cowlesville Fire Co. was alerted. By the time 25 firefighters reached the scene, the 40 foot structure was completely involved with flames.
Sheriff’s Deputy Joseph Heller said that the dry timbers burned so rapidly that the bridge fell into the creek within 15 minutes.
See full story and photos in the March 9th issue of the Alden Advertiser.