Crossing the Wiggly Old Pile Bridge
  • Print
Written by SeacoastNH Archive

Horse and CarriageSeacoastNH.com Presents 
Historic Portsmouth #457  

Perhaps this recent runaway tallow oil tanker was trying to tell us something. So with the Memorial Bridge project building on schedule, I'm going to shift emphasis, briefly, to a little pictorial history of "middle bridge."  (Continued belkow) 

Let's be thankful there were no 473-foot tankers drifting in the Piscataqua River back when this earlier bridge was in place. Built in 1822 the Old Pile Bridge became the Old Railroad Bridge when tracks were added in 1842. Predating the Sarah Long Bridge, this wooden structured connected Portsmouth and Kittery. This picture would have to be taken before 1924 by which time the new Memorial Bridge had taken over the task of vehicular and pedestrian traffic. We can see both a horseless carriage and a horse-driven carriage in this transitional image. In his book The Sarah Mildred Long Bridge, historian Woody Openo says the 1822 bridge was located 60 feet upstream from the current Interstate Bridge that opened in 1940. Of the original bridge Openo writes: "Although the bridge contained literally thousands of pilings, inserted in a vain attempt to achieve stability, its deck was reported to rise and fall like the sea, and sway back and forth with the tides, providing a seemingly dangerous and occasionally terrifying experience for  late-night travelers." (Photo courtesy of Strawbery Banke Museum)    

Pile Bridge (built 1822) from Kittery to Portsmouth / Portsmouth athenaeum

BONUS CLOSE-UPS

Pile Bridge detail 1920s

Auto detail 1920s

Courtesy Portsmouth Athenaeum