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Southport Bridge

Southport Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: June 15, 2012

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Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
ME-27 (Western Avenue, Hendricks Hill Road) Over Townsend Gut
Location
Southport: Lincoln County, Maine: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1939 By Builder/Contractor: Lackawanna Steel Construction Corporation of Buffalo, New York
Rehabilitation Date
1987
Main Span Length
180.0 Feet (54.9 Meters)
Structure Length
374.0 Feet (114 Meters)
Roadway Width
22 Feet (6.71 Meters)
Spans
1 Main Span(s) and 2 Approach Span(s)
Inventory Number
2789

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
View Information About HSR Ratings

Bridge Documentation

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.

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

Above: Historical 1939 photo showing bridge construction.

Above: Historical 1939 photo showing bridge construction.

Above: Historical 1939 photo showing bridge construction.

Above: Historical 1939 photo showing bridge construction.

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

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Photo Galleries and Videos: Southport Bridge

 

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Bridge Photo-Documentation

Original / Full Size Photos
A collection of overview and detail photos. This gallery offers photos in the highest available resolution and file size in a touch-friendly popup viewer.
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Bridge Photo-Documentation

Mobile Optimized Photos
A collection of overview and detail photos. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer.
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View Video

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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View Video

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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View Video

Driving Over Bridge

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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Maps and Links: Southport Bridge

Coordinates (Latitude, Longitude):

Search For Additional Bridge Listings:

Bridgehunter.com: View listed bridges within 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) of this bridge.

Bridgehunter.com: View listed bridges within 10 miles (16 kilometers) of this bridge.

HistoricBridges.org Bridge Browser: View listed bridges within 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) of this bridge.

HistoricBridges.org Bridge Browser: View listed bridges within 10 miles (16 kilometers) of this bridge.

2021 National Bridge Inventory: View listed bridges within 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) of this bridge.

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USGS National Map (United States Only)

Historical USGS Topo Maps (United States Only)

Historic Aerials (United States Only)

CalTopo Maps (United States Only)


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