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Choate Bridge

Choate Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber

Bridge Documented: July 12, 2008

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Main Street (MA-133, MA-1A) Over Ipswich River
Ipswich: Essex County, Massachusetts: United States
Structure Type
Stone Segmental Deck Arch, Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1764 By Builder/Contractor: Colonel John Choate

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
30 Feet (9.14 Meters)
Structure Length
72 Feet (21.95 Meters)
Roadway Width
26.6 Feet (8.11 Meters)
2 Main Span(s)
NBI Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Bridge Documentation

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

View Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) Documentation For This Bridge

HAER Drawings, PDF - HAER Data Pages, PDF

View The National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form For This Historic Bridge

View Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC) Inventory Forms For This Historic Bridge

This bridge is the oldest known bridge in Massachusetts and the second oldest known bridge in the entire United States. Constructed in 1764, the bridge predates the Revolutionary War! In 1834, the bridge was widened by the addition of a stone arch structure on the east side of the bridge. This "new" addition which is in its own right ancient, did not alter the 1764 structure, and was simply built up right next to the 1764 bridge. The west side of the bridge to this day remains the original 1874 structure. Both parts of the structure retain excellent historic integrity, and are relatively unaltered.  The 1764 bridge is without a doubt one of the most important structures in the country given its age. It is a physical remnant of the infrastructure that  formed the United States. The fact that it remains today with excellent historic (and structural) integrity is utterly amazing.

Builder Colonel John Choate reportedly was unsure of his own work, and had a horse positioned to take him north to Canada  in the event that an angry mob of citizens came after him if the bridge collapsed upon removal of the falsework. Little did he know that his bridge would not only stand that day, but it would stand for centuries to come, and even safely and efficiently carry significant volumes of motorized vehicles that would not have even been a dream in his time  into the 21st Century.


Photo Galleries and Videos: Choate Bridge

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