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Train Kept a Rolling into the River

Boston and Maine RR train in Portsmouth Presents 
Historic Portsmouth #458  

Here's a second shot of the Old Pile Bridge to Kittery that predated the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge, now closed for a $2.5 million repair thanks to a runaway tanker. Established in 1822, this bridge carried vehicular traffic up until the opening of the 1923 Memorial Bridge, now also closed due to reconstruction. (Continued below) 

Hard to believe this wooden bridge carried railroad trains, although it was frequently rebuilt and modernized, right up until a fateful accident. On September 10, 1939, as construction had begun on the new "Middle Bridge," the engine and tender and one car of a southbound passenger train from Portland fell through one of the spans on this old wooden bridge nearby. The engineer and fireman were killed, but the 12 passengers were saved when the engine broke off and disappeared into the Piscataqua River, There were no witnesses to the accident. In a $150,000 lawsuit against the builders of the new bridge investigators determined that one of the large caissons being used to build the Sarah Long had broken loose and an anchor cable pulled a piling on the old bridge out of place. Curiously the old bridge had been seriously damaged two years earlier when a Norwegian freighter crashed into it, tearing away 20 pilings that were hastily repaired. The 1913 train engine weighing 125 tons has been moved twice, but still remains underwater. This image is from the late 1800s. Stay tuned next week for more Sarah Long Mildred Long accidents from history    (Courtesy Portsmouth Athenaeum) 

Pile Bridge, Portsmouth, NH tfrom Kittery to Portsmouth, Portsmouth Athenaeum photo


Pile Bridge detail



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Thursday, January 18, 2018 
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