Skip to main content

Mount Hope Bridge


Gracing a channel in the Mount Hope Bay between Bristol, Rhode Island and Portsmouth, Rhode Island, the Mount Hope Bridge is a beautiful suspension bridge that was opened on October 24, 1929, replacing ferries that ran between Bristol and Portsmouth.  The Mount Hope Bridge carries RI 114 and is a two lane, wire cable suspension bridge with its towers at 285 feet tall, the length of the main span at 1200 feet long and the roadway sitting 135 feet over the water. The total length of the bridge including all spans is 6130 feet. The Mount Hope Bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 31, 1976.

In 1920, Rhode Island legislator William Connery of Bristol requested that a committee be set up to investigate the construction of a bridge between Portsmouth and Bristol. The reason behind the request was that delegates from Aquidneck Island were often times late to their meetings in Providence during the winter due to ferries not being able to cross frozen water. It was decided at that point in time that it was not economical to build a bridge, but because of the increased use of automobiles and a need to connect two of the most populated cities in the state, the idea was later brought up again. This time, the legislators came up with an idea to sell the rights to build the bridge to a private entity.

Originally designed and owned by the New Hope Bridge Company, the construction of the Mount Hope Bridge began on December 1, 1927. The New Hope Bridge Company ran into difficulties just four months before it was to open to traffic as serious structural problems were discovered. Experimental heat treated steel for the cables had been used, which caused breaks in the cables and resulted in the span having to be disassembled and reassembled. The total cost of the bridge's construction was $4.2 million. But by 1931, the Mount Hope Bridge Company went bankrupt, and local brewery owner Rudolf F. Haffenreffer, purchased the bridge in receivership. In 1954, the Mount Hope Bridge was purchased by Rhode Island under the name of the Mount Hope Bridge Authority, now known as the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority. The bridge was tolled for many years, with the initial toll rate of 60 cents for crossing one way in 1929. By the time tolls were removed from the bridge in 1998, the toll was 30 cents.

The Mount Hope Bridge is also graceful, having been awarded the 1929 Artistic Bridge Award of the American Institute of Steel Construction as the most beautiful, long-span bridge built that during year. The design towers features a cross braced design with a Gothic arch above the roadway and was painted green, introducing the use of color in bridge design, as bridges were primarily painted black or gray at the time. Today, the Mount Hope Bridge fits in beautifully with its natural surroundings, and you may be able to see recreational boats traveling under or around the bridge. There is also a lighthouse called the Bristol Ferry Lighthouse that is near the Mount Hope Bridge. The lighthouse was constructed in 1855, but was retired once the bridge's lighting made the lighthouse redundant. The Bristol Ferry Lighthouse is near the grounds of Roger Williams University and you can visit it today.






How to Get There:

Sources and Links:
Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority - History
Portsmouth Patch - Travel Back in Time: Mt. Hope Bridge

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Abandoned Interstate 95 - Newburyport, Massachusetts

What is now a popular recreational trail in the northeastern Massachusetts city of Newburyport was once a northbound alignment of Interstate 95, and before that, part of a relocated US 1. A trip down this 1.1 mile long abandoned section of highway shows a road that was left mostly intact, complete with the original pavement, curb cuts and pavement markings. But there is a story about how this highway became a trail...

Originally conceived to be part of a relocated US 1, the stretch of road that is now the abandoned section of I-95 in Newburyport was part of a highway that was constructed between 1951 and 1954 from modern day US 1 in Danvers, Massachusetts and ended just south of the state border between Massachusetts and New Hampshire in Salisbury, Massachusetts. The highway was originally constructed with three 12-foot wide lanes in each direction, although the rightmost lane eventually became a hard shoulder for the road. The highway was not Relocated US 1 for long, as it became I…

Interstate 5; the West Side Freeway

The past four years I've frequently driven the entirety of Interstate 5 in San Joaquin Valley and Sacramento Valley.  I-5 from Wheeler Ridge north to a segment near of Woodland is known as the "West Side Freeway."


The West Side Freeway segment of I-5 refers to an approximately 330 mile portion of the highway from the split with CA 99 at Wheeler Ridge north to the convergence with I-505 near Woodland.







Part 1; the history of the West Side Freeway and the split of I-5W/I-5E

In the 1947 Interstate plan I-5 was to be routed up US 99 where it would have split into I-5W and I-5E in Modesto.  I-5W was to planned to use the following current state highways: 

-  Modern CA 132 west to I-580.
-  Modern I-580 west to I-80.
-  Modern I-80 east to I-505.
-  Modern I-505 to I-5.

As the second Interstate System was being drafted the path of I-5 was shifted to the western part of San Joaquin Valley which was planned as Legislative Route 238.  I-5W was planned to split from I-5 at the p…

Old Stage Road; the "real" El Camino Real and predecessor route to US Route 101 on the San Juan Grade

This past month I stopped in San Juan Bautista to hike the Juan Bautista De Anza Trail on the closed Old Stage Road.  Old Stage Road as part of the Spanish El Camino Real to cross the Gabilan Range between San Juan Bautista and Salinas Valley.



Part 1; the history of El Camino Real and Old Stage Road

The Gabilan Range between what is now San Juan Bautista and Salinas Valley was first explored during the second Juan Bautista De Anza Expedition of Las Californias.  While the De Anza expedition likely crossed very close to the present alignment of Old Stage Route their exact path isn't clear.  Juan Bautista De Anza noted the following in his journal while passing near present day San Juan Bautista on March 24, 1776:

"In the valley we saw many antelopes and white grey geese.  In the same valley we found an arroyo...and then came to a village in which I counted about twenty tule huts.  But the only two people we saw were two Indians who came out to the road and presented us with thr…