The historic Watson Settlement Bridge in Littleton was destroyed by a fire on July 19. Credit: Alexander MacDougall / Houlton Pioneer Times

LITTLETON, Maine — An historic covered bridge spanning the Meduxnekeag River was destroyed by fire Monday afternoon.

The Watson Settlement Bridge is an iconic structure in Littleton, located on the Carson Road near the Foxcroft Road intersection. In 1984, the bridge was closed to traffic when a new bridge and road were constructed.

Littleton Fire Chief Dwight Cowperthwaite would not speculate on the cause of the fire, but an investigator from the State Fire Marshal’s Office was on the scene around 3:45 p.m. Monday.

According to Cowperthwaite, the fire was first reported by a group of people who were driving by the bridge on Framingham Road and smelled smoke. They returned a few minutes later to find it in flames. Houlton and Monticello fire departments also arrived to help put out the fire.

The bridge was built in 1911 and is the most northerly and the youngest of Maine’s original covered bridges. It has timber trusses of the Howe design and has two spans with a total length of 170 feet. The bridge draws its name from the Watson homestead that was nearby.

The bridge was a popular tourist attraction and used as a backdrop for numerous high school senior portrait photo sessions. Access to the bridge was only available by foot traffic as large wooden pillars blocked the road leading into it.

Reporter Alexander MacDougall contributed to this report.