The Bridges of Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island
One of the glories of Acadia National Park are the carriage paths that wend their way through the forests of Mount Desert Island. And one of the wonders of those paths are the bridges that you pass under, and cross over, while exploring the paths on foot, carriage, or bike.
According to the National Park Service, there are 16 bridges that occur along the carriage paths to help span a ravine or road. Here's a look at those bridges, and their some of their history, from the folks at Acadia National Park.
Carriage Road Bridges
Sixteen carriage road bridges occur at various points where there is either a ravine or motor route to be crossed. Each bridge is a beautifully executed work, entirely constructed from hand-hewn local granite. They each have artfully conceived and individual design features that blend harmoniously with their surroundings and that, in many cases, take advantage of natural waterfalls, site contours and great heights to enhance the drama of the landscape. Frequently small viewer’s platforms were designed into the bridges so that both the view and the handiwork of the bridge may be admired. Unless otherwise noted, most bridges have a substructure of stone and mortar, are faced with quarry-faced random laid granite ashlar, and a two lane gravel deck.
Ashlar: rectangular blocks (in this case—granite) with no set dimensions
Voussoirs: stones creating the decorative arch of the bridge
Coping Stones: creating the top rail
Abutments: side walls or pillars of bridge built into the landscape
Capstone: top rock on abutments of the bridge deck
Bridges in the Jordan Pond Area
Jordan Pond Bridge: Completed in 1920, this compact 40 foot length bridge has a 20 foot single segment arch span. The bridge marks the meshing of Jordan Pond and Jordan Stream’s waters. Its arched gravel deck is flared at either end. Its surface blocks are laid both random and polygonal between the radiating voussoirs of the arch and the orderly coping stones of the gently arched rail. The abutments are square, solid masses surfaced in random ashlar with a flattened pyramidal capstone.
West Branch Bridge: The 170-foot structure has a flared approach as it curves sharply over the ravine formed by Jordan Stream. It has a small 6 foot stone arch span. The stone and mortar substructure is very simply clad in quarry-faced random laid ashlar and lacks even copings on its side railings. It was built in 1931.
Cobblestone Bridge: This bridge spanning Jordan Stream was the first bridge built on the carriage road system in 1917. William Welles Bosworth, an architect who had previously been employed by Frederick Law Olmstead, Sr. designed this bridge. However, it was carriage road engineer, Charles Simpson—not Bosworth—who suggested the use of rounded boulders for the facing. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. agreed that the rounded boulders would lend a more natural appearance to the bridge than cut stone work. The cobblestone bridge is unique. No other bridge on the carriage road system has boulder facing.
Stanley Brook Bridge: The triple-arched Stanley Brook Bridge was built in 1933. The main arch spans the Stanley Brook road which connects Seal Harbor Beach to Jordan Pond. The two smaller arches cross Stanley Brook on one side and the Seaside Path on the other. The long deck carries a carriage road.
Jordan Pond Road Bridge: One of the last bridges built in 1932, this bridge is not easily noticed even when traveling over it. It carries an automobile road from Seal Harbor to Jordan Pond across its deck, a carriage road running beneath it.
Bridges in the Penobscot Mountain and Sargent Mountain Area
Deer Brook Bridge: Completed in 1925, this 140 foot long bridge soars high above its namesake near Jordan Cliffs. The two-rounded arches are tall, narrow 8-foot spans, separated by a delicate pier and outlined by slender radiating voussoirs. The entire stone and mortar substructure is clad in quarry-faced random laid ashlar. Set into the spandrel of the arches is a plain, circular medallion into which has been carved the year “1925.”
Chasm Brook Bridge: The Chasm Brook Bridge, completed in 1927, is a rustic and small-scaled bridge with a 20 foot span over Chasm Brook. It is faced with random laid ashlar as are the long, slender, radiating voussoirs, the keystone, and the railing copings. The two-lane, gravel-surfaced deck is handsomely flared and terminates at pairs of rounded abutments which form pedestals for their gently peaked caps.
Bridges in the Parkman Mountain/Upper Hadlock Pond Area
Hemlock Bridge: Built in 1925, this massive Gothic-arched structure crosses Maple Spring Brook. Its 185 foot wall curves back sharply and flares at either end. The Gothic arch span is 30 feet across and is sharply outlined in radiating voussoirs.
Waterfall Bridge: Another 1925 bridge, the Waterfall Bridge spans Hadlock Brook. It is 125 feet in length and flares gently at the ends. The 20 foot span of its rounded arch is outlined by a firm row of radiating voussoirs. Random laid ashlar cover the substructure and bold blocks of the same material form the railing copings. A pair of semi-circular viewing platforms jut out on either side to take advantage of the view.
Hadlock Bridge: The Hadlock Brook Bridge, completed in 1926, is a small-scaled 40 foot bridge with a 20 foot span segmental arch. The rail of the bridge follows the line of the arch and flares out gently at either end. There are strong abutments with chinked rounded capstones. The stone and masonry substructure is clad in very rough, quarry-faced ashlar, laid random. The radiating voussoirs and rail copings are similar in texture.
Bridges around Eagle Lake/Witch Hole Pond Area
Eagle Lake Bridge: The carriage road passes underneath the Gothic-arched Eagle Lake Bridge which carries State Route 233 above. It was built in 1927 and is 118 feet in length. The refined Gothic arch spans 30 feet. The arch is outlined in radiating voussoirs of the random-laid ashlar. This bridge was the object of a 1974 widening project that expanded the upper deck to accommodate State Route 233 traffic. The project received engineering awards for the division, the separation move made on a system of ball bearings, and the excellent re-seaming with the newly added masonry.
Duck Brook Bridge: The Duck Brook Bridge is a spectacular, three-arch structure over Duck Brook. Completed in 1929, there is a central 30-foot span flanked by smaller 20 foot spans, each of which has rough-dressed uneven radiating voussoirs with prominent keystones. The gravel-surfaced deck is 200 feet in length and flares at either end. The railing has dressed ashlar copings and there are pairs of rectangular openings piercing the railing above the lesser arches and three pairs above the main arch. Above the spandrels of the arches, corbelled and semi-circular balconies extend off from the deck to allow the traveler to enjoy the scenery from excellent vantage points.
Bridges around Bubble Pond Area
Bubble Pond Bridge: Completed in 1928, this is an elliptical-arched structure rustic in detail. The 30-foot span is echoed in the railing arch which slopes outward beyond the opening to a more horizontal place. The deck is a full 200 feet in length and flares gently at the end. The stone and mortar substructure are surfaced in rough-dressed random laid rubblestone. The uneven and roughdressed radiating voussoirs form the graceful arch and the keystone block has been carved with the year “1928.” The rail copings, too, are rough-dressed and jaggedly set, but still provide a strong horizontal element in this bridge’s distinctive profile.
Bridges around Amphitheatre Area
Little Harbor Brook: This small single round arch bridge, built in 1919, crosses over Little Harbor Brook. The bridge is 40 feet long and has a main span twenty feet long and a deck twenty feet wide.
Amphitheatre Bridge: Built in 1928, this bridge is a long, 236 foot structure that traverses the deep Amphitheatre ravine. The deck flares broadly at either end. The 50-foot rounded arch span is constructed of rough-dressed, uneven radiating voussoirs and has a prominent keystone. The surface, in addition to the random-laid ashlar, incorporates large projecting blocks set in several discontinuous vertical rows. The rail copings are of heavy, rectangular blocks of rough-dressed granite with beveled edges and with a gently peaked stone in the center. The rows of ashlar are not
completed to their outer edges and this stepped motif, together with the continuous railing coping, creates a series of triangular openings piercing the wall.
Cliffside Bridge: This 232-foot-long structure built in 1932 resembles a medieval battlement curving out over a vast ravine. The 50 foot span segmental arch has a row of slender and tall radiating voussoirs. On either side of the arch are massive bayed abutments, battered at the base, which at the bridge deck become viewer’s platforms. The railing of the bridge is crenulated by the upright placement of massive hand-hewn boulders at regular intervals. The viewers’ platforms have the same ponderous crenellation, as well as finely dressed stone chutes set in the masonry to drain water from the structure.