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Culverts are openings beneath roads and railroad lines generally constructed out of stone. They were used where a full fledged bridge was unnecessary.  Culverts originally were built to form a dry, hard surface over small streams. Later on with railroads crisscrossing farm lands animal underpasses were added. Most culverts are below the road surface. Hence, soil was built up over culverts reinforcing their stability and longevity. Culverts did not require maintenance on annual basis as does a bridge. Culverts range from stones slabs laid across a stream to walled and roofed openings. Here are a few examples of different kinds of culverts.

Road Level Culvert - Burns Wildlife Management Area, Newbury, MA
Large flat stone slabs were laid atop low stones. This allows water flowage underneath and creates a solid firm surface across the stream. Water softened earth on edges of either side of culvert were paved with flat stones.

Small Square Culvert - Hampstead, NH
This culvert was built to handle seasonal water runoff. It was made of field stones and boxed across path of road. Soil was built up above the culvert holding it firmly in place.

Old Public Road Culvert - Currierville Road, So. Hampton, NH
Grass growing along roadside over culvert almost obscures stone slab bridging culvert. The old dirt road (still in use today as a dirt road) is a good example of a small stream that needed to be bridged but did not need a costly bridge that required maintenance. Large stone slabs raised approximately two feet above water level were covered with soil to form a level road bed.

Mill Site Culvert - Canton, Maine
A turbine unit sets in the stream below the dam. In front of turbine is a high stone culvert probably able to handle heavy spring runoff water. Stone blocks make up side walls and roof. Stone blocks although straight across rather than arched across roof, appear to have some pressure on each other. Photograph shows at least two levels of stone roofing over culvert. How this stays together is unknown at present.

Modern Version of Stone Culvert - Dogtown Historic area Rockport, MA
Stone culverts are an effective and inexpensive means to bridging small streams. A modern version with an arched stone slab was used on this dirt road. Twentieth century pressure treated lumber replaced stone for retaining soil on edges.

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