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Seekonk River Bridge

 

great cool Providence tshirt design by Hilary Treadwell
Great t-shirts from Hilary Treadwell, one of them, featuring the Seekonk River Bridge. Get them at Craftland this season or inquire through her website.

A Brown University Student(?) project with research on the site.
Too scary to walk out onto it? Here is a Quicktime panorama by Dietrich Neumann.
Still not satisfied? A story about his walk on the bridge. Stairway to Heaven, by John Blasing
Our page on the East Side Railroad Tunnel, also abandoned.

 

An icon in it’s own right, the bridge that seems to be permanently stuck in the up position has hung over the Seekonk River since 1976. It’s silhouette can easily be seen as you pass over the Washington Bridge in a car on I-195 going East or West. The heavy iron structure recalls a time in engineering when heft was best... obviously, the bridge was built to last, and shows very little signs of structural damage, aside from the fires here and there that have slightly damaged the thick railroad ties. We won’t ponder too much the significance of a structure stuck in time, something that seems so permanent. To remove the bridge or to get it working again and turn it into a pedestrian walkway from East Providence to Fox Point might deny the bridge’s meaningful existence as a snapshot of history.

 

The bridge has many names, some technical but most colloquial: The bridge opened with the name “Crook Point Bascule Bridge” (Bascule Bridge definition in Wikipedia), which is technically a “Scherzer Rolling Lift Bridge”; the DOT knows the bridge as the Seekonk River Drawbridge S.S. K-315; most of the rest of us call it the Drawbridge, or the Seekonk River Bridge, or the Stuck-Up Bridge, or simply the Up Bridge. It was built around 1908 – at the same time as the East Side Railroad Tunnel – to connect the East Side and Downtown Providence with East Providence. The bridge served the Warren and Bristol train lines running east to west, and from Union Station, could connect out to the Providence and Worcester.

Plans to redevelop this parcel along the waterfront surface and quickly return to the bottom of the river. So far nothing has really threatened the life of the bridge, even though the town of East Providence is under huge redevelopment along its waterfront. It is difficult to say if the pressures of redevelopment will ever effect this bulky structure. Luckily, we have not heard a general feeling of dismay towards the bridge – rather, people in the area think of it fondly as a landmark of sorts. Unlike other bridges that have been demolished after eventually becoming an eye sore (Jamestown Bridge, for example), this one seems to have won its way into the hearts and minds of the area residents.

Dimitri Oct 23 2011 Anyone know how tall the bridge is?

John Ballantine May 4 2011I wanted to let you know that my 2008 post on the Seekonk RR Drawbridge has been updated with a vintage postcard purchased on Ebay showing the bridge, plus three color photos I took in the spring of 73. Feel free to link to the page and here's the url: open.salon.com/blog/designanator/2008/08/10/providence_part_four

Marc Dec 24 2009 Actually, I just referenced some pictures I took of the bridge a few years ago, and in approximately that same spot, on the east side of Providence, there is evidence of where the operator house was on the left... Beams jutting out from the left side of the bridge. Also, what remains of the utility poles that once carried those power lines are on the left, consistent with the old photo.

Mark Sawtelle Mar 26 2009 My daughter says she’s heard it called the “Dead Bridge” (cf. the Red Bridge, upstream).

mickey Jan 26 2009 i’ve heard lots of people call it the “ghost bridge” before. i often incorrectly refer to it as the “red bridge”. it’s sort of red. right?

Richard Goulis Jan 25 2009 I think it was the summer of 1982 when I was a student in the film department at RISD that I first encountered the bridge. In those days you could still get into the tunnel that led from beside Thomas street, above The Blue Point restaurant to near the area of the bridge. I used to drive my International Harvester Scout through that narrow tunnel on occasion. That was a great vehicle. It had the steering wheel on the right hand side since it was originally used for delivering mail. I could drive like a maniac and my front seat passenger, whoever was fool-hearty enough to drive with me, would always get the blame. One day, I just decided I would climb to the top of that bridge. It was long before the fire which damaged it badly, and it looked like some kind of giant ladder, perfect. I had a video camera with me to document the experience. It was a brand-new, early, state-of-the-art Panasonic “Porta-Pack.” This was a VHS unit that had a camera with a long cable attached to a separate recording deck you had to sling over your shoulder and carry along. It was bulky and cumbersome but it was incredible, and I felt like the luckiest person in the world to be able to actually use this kind of thing. It was a bright, sunny day, maybe a Sunday, as I climbed up holding the camera in one hand and navigating the “rungs”/ties with the other. I narrated my thoughts simultaneously. The most striking thing I remember was the view. When I got to the top, I felt like I was the last person on earth for a moment or two. I sat up there for I don’t know how long, my feet dangling over the water, just watching the world and enjoying it immensely. I later showed the video in class and my teacher just about had a heart attack, some of my fellow students too, seriously. I didn’t get into trouble, but I never heard the end of it. I think the story may still be told within the hallowed halls of the department. Where is that tape?

john Sept 10 2008 you folks might be interested in this one. this is the only pic i’ve ever been able to come across of the bridge in the “down” position: http://photos.nerail.org/showpic/?photo=2004051712391620075.jpg&order=byyear&page=8&key=1954 i remember seeing it down a few times when i was very young and driving over the old Red Bridge between the East Side and E. Prov. (Ed. note: Is this photo flipped the wrong way? Wne I took shots, the platform where I assume the operator’s house rested, was on the right as you looked over the bridge from the East Side. Here, it is on the left.)

The information about each building grows as visitors let us know about their experiences. Did you or a member of your family work here? Did you grow up near it as a child? Let us know. All entries will be moderated and may be posted in an edited form. We will use your name unless you tell us otherwise. We will not make your email public.

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