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Stackpole Bridge

Stackpole Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Sue Littlefield, Friends of Stackpole Bridge

Bridge Documented: 2013

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Simpson Road Over Stackpole Creek
Saco: York County, Maine: United States
Structure Type
Stone Semicircular Through Arch, Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1848 By Builder/Contractor: Unknown

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
7 Feet (2.1 Meters)
Structure Length
110 Feet (33.5 Meters)
Roadway Width
Not Available
1 Main Span(s)
NBI Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

View The Friends of Stackpole Bridge Website

View Engineering Assessments and City of Saco Discussions About This Bridge

This bridge was built in 1848 and as such is the oldest known surviving highway bridge in Maine. The bridge is an unusual structure, consisting of a tiny semicircular stone arch span which is integrated with a far larger abutment system. Also adding to the unusual appearance is the relatively high height of the arch above the waterway in comparison to the span length, giving the bridge a distinctive keyhole appearance. The bridge is a dry-laid masonry structure (no mortar) and thus relies on the careful fitting of its stone to maintain its integrity.

The future of this bridge is uncertain. A group, The Friends of Stackpole Bridge, exists to advocate for the preservation of the historic bridge. Problems with the bridge include deterioration, and a narrow roadway width. The narrow span of the bridge and its potential to cause water to build up against the bridge during floods was an initial source of concern as well, however engineering reports state that the bridge is strong enough to withstand water pressure from such floods. Engineering reviews have also found that rehabilitation for the bridge is feasible. This finding is in line with other stone arch bridges in the United States and overseas in the United Kingdom, where numerous stone arch bridges have been rehabilitated and preserved. The narrow width of the bridge may not be a major concern on Simpson Road, which does not appear to be a major road. For example, it is doubtful that large volumes of cars or heavy trucks need to be accommodated with other major routes nearby. Moreover, if roadway width is a concern, traffic control such as stop signs can be used to manage the flow of traffic over the bridge in a one-lane format.

Maine has a relatively small population of historic bridges compared to other states in the northeastern United States. Worse, Maine has a poor historic bridge preservation track record. Despite its small population of historic bridges, a wide range of historic bridges have been demolished. Additionally, stone arch bridges are rare in Maine, with only a small number remaining. For those wondering, the bridges in the famous Acadia National Park that look like stone arch bridges are not stone arch bridges, but stone-faced concrete arch bridges. Given this small population of historic bridges, and even smaller population of stone arch bridges, the Stackpole Bridge is significant already. But consider that it is also the oldest known bridge in the state, and it is clear this bridge has a high level of significance in the context of Maine. Even more significance is gained through its unusual design. Its span that is far taller than it is long, coupled with its large abutment system make it stand out among stone arch bridges nationwide. For all these reasons, the Stackpole Bridge is worthy of preservation. That the bridge enjoys considerable community support... something many significant and preservation-worthy historic bridges lack... is only further reason to justify preservation of this bridge. Finally, the bridge is considered eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.



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