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Southport Bridge

Southport Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: June 15, 2012

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
ME-27 (Western Avenue, Hendricks Hill Road) Over Townsend Gut
Southport : Lincoln County, Maine: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1939 By Builder/Contractor: Lackawanna Steel Construction Corporation of Buffalo, New York

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
180 Feet (54.86 Meters)
Structure Length
374 Feet (114 Meters)
Roadway Width
22 Feet (6.71 Meters)
1 Main Span(s) and 2 Approach Span(s)
NBI Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Bridge Documentation

View Archived National Bridge Inventory Report - Has Additional Details and Evaluation

Maine has very few movable bridges and most of them are very small. This swing span is among the largest in the state. The impressive through truss swing bridge operates for boats all year. The bridge is essentially an adaptation of Maine's state standard design for through truss bridges into a swing bridge design. For example, the horizontal member that runs through the center of the truss web of many fixed through truss bridges in Maine is also present on this swing truss. While the bridge uses modern red and white barricades with flashers and bells for indicating the bridge is about to open, the original lattice gates that were the first form of barricade on the bridge remain in place. They appear to have been designed to be manually swung into place across the roadway.

A plaque mounted on the bridge dated 2002 "In honor of Norman Lewis & family for their years of dedication and service" is mounted without explanation on the bridge. A news article explained the plaque however. Norman Lewis began working on the bridge in the 1940s as a bridge tender, right after the bridge was built. Later, two twin brothers, Dwight and Duane Lewis continued the tradition by working as bridge tenders. In 2011, Dwight had worked for 45 years and Duane had worked for 43 years. Over the years, the men have witnessed interesting events at the bridge. Once, a car drove around the cars lined up while the bridge was swinging and tried to cross the bridge, and instead went right into the water. Sometimes boats fail to realize they can't fit under the closed bridge and they go under, shearing off their masts or aerials. One particularly unusual story is that during a wind storm, the bridge blew into the open position. They noted that the bridge is now chained shut when the wind gets over 45mph. This is an interesting story because normally swing bridges have a special locking mechanism that wedges the bridge in place. This story suggests this bridge was not designed to be held as tightly in place as some bridges.

This bridge remains in excellent condition and is one of the best preserved movable bridges in Maine.

Information and Findings From Maine's Historic Bridge Inventory

Discussion of Bridge

The 1939, center bearing, thru truss swing span bridge is historically and technologically significant as one of the state's two remaining thru truss swing span bridges. It is complete and operable, and it represents a movable bridge type that was once common in Maine and the nation. It is a later example, and its significance is derived primarily on the rareness of the significant bridge type/design. The fact that it is operable is an important aspect of its significance. The other thru truss swing span bridge is the 1930/1937 Maine Kennebec bridge at Richmond. The bridge is judged to be a high preservation priority because it is a large, complicated example of a bridge type/design that is becoming rare in the state, and it is one of only two remaining thru truss swing span bridges in the state. The third truss swing span bridge in Maine is a pony truss.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes


Photos and Videos: Southport Bridge

Available Photo Galleries and Videos

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Bridge Photo-Documentation
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A collection of overview and detail photos. For the best visual immersion and full detail, or for use as a desktop background, this gallery presents the photos for this bridge in the original digital camera resolution.
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Bridge Photo-Documentation
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A collection of overview and detail photos. View the photos for this bridge in a reduced size which is useful for mobile/smartphone users, modem (dial-up) users, or those who do not wish to wait for the longer download times of the full-size photos. Alternatively, view this photo gallery using a popup slideshow viewer (great for mobile users) by clicking the link below.
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Bridge Opening
Full Motion Video
Note: An Osprey with a nest on the bridge can be seen flying away and heard calling after the bridge is moving. Streaming video of the bridge. Also includes a higher quality downloadable video for greater clarity or offline viewing.
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Bridge Closing
Full Motion Video
Streaming video of the bridge. Also includes a higher quality downloadable video for greater clarity or offline viewing.
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Driving Over Bridge
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Streaming video of the bridge. Also includes a higher quality downloadable video for greater clarity or offline viewing.

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