'On the Water:' The Mt. Hope Bridge

Bridge construction in Portsmouth is nothing new. A private company finished the $4 million Mt. Hope Bridge just before the 1929 market crash.

As automobiles became more common, the Bristol Ferry became less practical. The state of Rhode Island would not build a bridge, but private investors began construction in 1927.  

has a very interesting record of the construction of the bridge. The engineer of the project took pictures of the the various stages of construction and they were included in a commemorative "Camera Studies" book that the Honnen Family donated to the historical society.  Copies of these images as well as two of the original lights from the Mt. Hope Bridge are on display during the "On the Water" exhibit.  

At a cost of $4 million dollars, the 6,130 foot suspension bridge was the longest bridge in New England when it opened on October 24, 1929. Unfortunately for the owners, the stock market crashed days later and Rhode Island, along with the rest of the nation, faced the Depression. The state of Rhode Island finally took over the bridge in 1955.  

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Gloria Schmidt May 11, 2012 at 07:26 PM
The exhibit will open Memorial Day Sunday and be up until Columbus Day weekend. at Portsmouth Historical Society - Sundays, 2 to 4 pm. We printed out many of the construction photos and put them on a poster. This will be by the Mt. Hope Bridge light in the Old Town Hall. Interesting to know about the Heffenreffer connection. It seemed to have been refinanced several times.
DownTown May 11, 2012 at 08:14 PM
That's the way it reads on Wikipedia. If you think about how long ago that was built and then compare the construction time to today's contract build times it is really an amazing feat of engineering. It's only been closed once that I remember for repairs maybe late 70's or early 80's for the summer. I look forward to seeing the exhibition, Thanks https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Hope_Bridge Some pics are online also. http://bit.ly/IYT6Vq
John ("Anything But Sue") May 11, 2012 at 11:07 PM
The bridge was closed for 7-8 months in the 1986-87 time frame. A colleague of mine at work had to drive around from Bristol every day to get to work on the island.
DownTown May 12, 2012 at 12:06 AM
Thanks John, I was a bit foggy on the dates. I do remember Bristol being a lot more like a sleepy little town during the shut down.
David Silvia May 12, 2012 at 11:09 PM
Those dates are close, I remember the bridge was struck by a tanker, and there was structeral damage, they closed the bridge to complete the work in a less time fashion, otherwise they were going to close one lane at a time which would have taken longer. it was not good driving around but the bridge was repaired a lot faster


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