About This Location
The Bailey Island Bridge, also known as the Cribstone Bridge, is a historic and unique structure located in Harpswell, Maine. Situated in the charming coastal town of Harpswell, this bridge holds a special place in the hearts of locals and visitors alike.
The bridge's history dates back to the persistent efforts of Bailey Island residents in the early 1900s, who longed for a connection to nearby Orr's Island which was connected to the mainland. Initially, their requests were denied by the town of Harpswell. However, a change in fortune came when the Maine Legislature introduced a law allowing state and county funding for bridge construction. In 1926, a contract was signed, and construction began in 1927, concluding in 1928. The Maine State Highway Commission's bridge engineer, Llewelyn N. Edwards, played a pivotal role in bringing this vision to life.
The Bailey Island Bridge's design was notably challenging due to the strong tides and winds in the area, known as Will's Gut. To overcome this obstacle, a crib bridge was proposed, utilizing granite slabs sourced from nearby Yarmouth, Maine quarries. Inspired by similar designs observed in Scotland, this innovative approach combined the strength of heavy granite slabs with an open cribbing structure. The result was a bridge that could withstand wind and waves while allowing tides to flow freely. Each granite slab was meticulously placed in a crisscross pattern, ensuring that the tide could pass through without causing damage.
An impressive 10,000 tons of granite were used in the construction, providing a sturdy foundation for the concrete road that later became part of Route 24. Subsequent additions included a sidewalk in 1951 and guardrails in 1961.
The Bailey Island Bridge earned a well-deserved spot on the National Register of Historic Places on April 28, 1975. This recognition underscores its historical and architectural significance, preserving its legacy for future generations. It bears the reference number 75000093.
Further elevating its status, the Bailey Island Bridge was designated as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark on July 19, 1984. This prestigious distinction acknowledges its engineering marvel and uniqueness as the world's only surviving granite cribstone bridge.
In 2009 and 2010, the bridge underwent a significant restoration effort to repair cracked and sheared stones. During these crucial repairs, a temporary 1,000-foot-long bridge was erected alongside the cribstone bridge, ensuring uninterrupted traffic flow. The grand reopening on November 20, 2010, marked the successful restoration of this iconic structure. Importantly, the bridge retained its original dimensions, with replacement stones sourced from the same Yarmouth quarry that supplied the initial construction materials.
To experience the charm of the Bailey Island Bridge, take Route 24 southward. After approximately 13 miles from Cook's Corner, you'll encounter this historic gem. Visitors can drive across the bridge today or walk using the dedicated and well-protected sidewalk. Nearby parking is available at the northern end of the bridge, adjacent to the Salt Cod Cafe, and at Garrison Cove Landing. These parking spots provide ideal vantage points for viewing and photographing this historic, picturesque bridge.