Sarah Long Bridge Takes Another Toll
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Written by SeacoastNH Archive

Flipped car 1939SeacoastNH.com Presents 
Historic Portsmouth #459 

So far we've seen the bridges of Portsmouth Harbor involved in accidents with tankers, tugs, barges, freighters, freight trains, submarines, not to mention pedestrians and bridge workers. But let's not forget cars. (Continued below) 

 

Our third accident prone photo in this series shows a 1939 auto crash on the entrance to the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge. The photo archive offers no more details on this event, although the bridge did not officially open until 1940. There have been a number of auto accidents according to historian Woody Openo's book The Sarah Mildred Long Bridge (1988). Cars frequently crashed through the wooden gate when the bridge was about to go up, despite flashing lights and warning bells. A man and a woman in a Cadillac hit the span at high speed just as it was rising up and yet both survived the impact. In 1949 a woman drove through the gate and into the swirling Piscataqua River. Archived photos show the gruesome recovery as the car, hooked to a underwater cable, was pulled from the river by raising the lift span. A barge then delivered the car to the Navy Yard with the drowned victim still in the driver's seat. (Courtesy Portsmouth Athenaeum)     

1939 car wreck (c) Portsmouth Athenaeum

BONUS CLOSE-UP

car wreck detail

 

Photo and text (c) Portsmouth Athenaeum and SeacoastNH.com