Oldest Bridges in the United States

8 Oldest Bridges in the United States

Before the American Revolution most of the bridges in the United States were made of wood and destroyed during the Revolutionary War. Following the war, these bridges were replaced by permanent stone bridges, a majority of  which are still standing today. A majority of the bridges on this list are from the 18th century post-Revolutionary War era. However, the oldest bridge on this list was built nearly a century before the founding of the United States and is still being used today.

8. Union Bride (Waterford Bridge)

Year Built: Original in 1804; current in 1909
Location:  Waterford and Lansingburg, New York
Type:  Original was wooden; current is steel
Architect:  Original built by Theodore Burr; Current designed by A. P. Boller and Henry Hodge and built by the Phoenix Bridge Company
Still in Use:  Yes

Union Bridgephoto source:  STRUCTURE Magazine

The Union Bridge was a wooden bridge built in 1804 by Theodore Burr. It was the first bridge built across the lower part of the Hudson River, connecting the New York towns of Waterford and Lansingburg. Burr combined an arch with a truss to strengthen Union Bridge and provide stiffness. This was the first time that anyone in the U.S. had used this kind of building technique and Burr patented his truss/arch pattern in 1806 and 1817.

Union Bridge was used for over 100 years before it burned down in 1909. A steel bridge, now called the Waterford Bridge, was built on the same piers as the original wooden bridge. All together, both the Union Bridge and Waterford Bridge have serviced the area for 214 years.


7. Kingston Bridge

Year Built: 1798
Location:  Kingston, Somerset County, New Jersey
Type:  Stone arch bridge
Architect:  Unknown
Still in Use:  Yes

Kingston Bridgephoto source:  Wikimedia Commons

Kingston Bridge in Somerset County, New Jersey is known for being the second oldest bridge in the county after the Old Stone Arch Bridge. The bridge is part of the Kingston Mill Historic District, which  is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In addition to Kingston Bridge, the Historic District includes the Greenland-Brinson-Gulick farm, four nearby houses, and a gristmill powered by the Millstone River.

Originally, there was a wooden bridge at the site of Kingston Bridge but it was destroyed for strategic reasons by the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. The destroyed bridge was replaced by the Kingston Bride in 1798 as part of the King’s Highway, the most important highway in the area through the 18th and early 19th centuries. Although Kingstone Bridge is 220 years old, it still retains its original roadway grade and is still being used today.


6. Skippack Bridge

Year Built: 1792
Location:  Lower Providence Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania
Type:  Stone arch bridge
Architect:  Stephen Lane, John Alman, and John Burke
Still in Use:  Yes

Skippack Bridgephoto source:  Wikimedia Commons via U.S. Library of Congress

Skippack Bridge is an eight-arch stone bridge built in 1792 and is believed to be the oldest bridge in the United States that has retained its original dimensions. Over the years, Skippack Bridge has had several renovations and there are three date stones on the bride – one marking its original 1792 date, another commemorating the 1874 repairs (the first after it was built), and a third for the most recent renovation from 1992 – 1993.

Before Skippack Bridge was built, there had been several attempts to build a bridge connecting the eastern and western parts of Montgomery County starting in 1762. The area around Skippack Bridge became the home of the Funkites, exiled Mennonites who had supported the Revolutionary War. In the 1970s, Skippack Bridge and some of the surrounding old structures were designated as the Historic District and placed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.


5. Stony Brook Bridge

Year Built: 1792
Location:  Princeton, New Jersey
Type:  Triple masonry arch bridge
Architect:  Unknown
Still in Use:  Yes

Stony Brook Bridgephoto source:  Wikimedia Commons

The Stony Brook Bridge in Princeton, New Jersey was first built in 1792. It is believed that the Stony Brook Bridge is the oldest bridge in continuous use on a state highway in New Jersey. Like a few of the other bridges on this list, Stony Brook Bridge was used during the American Revolution – British and American troops crossed Stony Brook Bridge Jan. 3, 1777 during the Battle of Princeton.

In 2017, Stony Brook Bridge was closed for five months while extensive repairs were made. The project involved strengthening the bridge infrastructure atop the three stone arches, which were preserved for looks, but are no longer functional. A year later, the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) was awarded the 2018 Project of the Year Award by the New Jersey Society of Professional Engineers Mercer County Chapter for its work on Stony Brook Bridge.


4. Choate Bridge

Year Built: 1764
Location:  Ipswich, Massachusetts
Type:  Stone arch bridge
Architect:  Colonel John Choate
Still in Use:  Yes

Choate Bridgephoto source:  Wikimedia Commons

Choate Bridge is considered the oldest two-span masonry arch bridge in the United States, with documented proof. Before Choate Bridge was built, the citizens of Ipswich had placed wooden bridges at the same site since 1641. These bridges were weak, wore out quickly, and had to be rebuilt several times. Finally, when traffic in the area had become too much for the wooden bridge, Colonel Choate (the bridge’s namesake and architect) and a committee decided to put up a permanent masonry bridge.

In 1838, Choate Bridge was widened and has remained basically untouched since then. The bridge was to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1972. During the year of Choate Bridge’s 250th birthday, the American Society of Civil Engineers named the bridge an official National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.


3. Sewall’s Bridge

Year Built: 1761 – updated with a newer version in 1934
Location:  York, Maine
Type:  Wooden pile-trestle bridge
Architect:  Major Samuel Sewall Jr.
Still in Use:  Yes

Sewall's Bridgephoto source:  United States Library of Congress

Sewall’s Bridge in York, Maine is one the most historic bridges in America. The American Society of Civil Engineer’s says that Sewall’s Bridge is the “earliest pile-trestle bridge for which an authentic construction record exists, and the oldest for which builder’s drawings survive.” The bridge was named for Major Samuel Sewall, Jr., the bridge’s architect.

The original Sewall’s Bridge was in use for over 173 years, before it was replaced in 1934 by a modern wooden pile bridge. Initially, the state wanted to replace Sewall’s Bridge with a concrete one, but the citizens of York fought back and won. The newer wooden bridge looks nearly identical to the original.


2. Old Stone Arch Bridge

Year Built: 1730
Location:  Bound Brook, New Jersey
Type:  Triple arch stone bridge
Architect:  Unknown
Still in Use:  No

Old Stone Arch Bridgephoto source:  Wikimedia Commons

The Old Stone Arch Bridge in Bound Brook, New Jersey is one of the oldest stone bridges in the country and was built sometime around 1730. While the bridge is no longer in use, it is believed that what remains of the bridge is intact and buried underground.

In 2008, the Old Stone Arch Bridge was deemed significant enough to be placed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The bridge used to carry the Raritan Road, which was an important colonial roadway. Old Stone Arch Bridge during the American Revolution and was the scene of the Battle of Bound Brook when on April 13, 1777. There are currently plans to excavate and restore Old Stone Arch Bridge.


1. Frankford Avenue Bridge

Year Built: 1697
Location:  Northeast Philadelphia
Type:  Twin arch stone bridge
Architect:  Unknown
Still in Use:  Yes

Frankford Avenue Bridgephoto source:  Wikimedia Commons

The Frankford Avenue Bridge (also called the Pennypack Creek Bridge, the Pennypack Bridge, the Holmesburg Bridge, and King’s Highway Bridge) was built nearly 80 years before the United States became a country, making it the oldest existing bridge in the United States. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Frankford Avenue Bridge was the first stone arch bridge built in the country.

Built in 1697, the Frankford Avenue Bridge is part of one of the first highways in America, the King’s Road from Philadelphia to New York. When it was first built, the bridge was only 18 feet wide and has been widened significantly over the years. In early 2018, the Frankford Avenue Bridge was temporarily closed for much needed repairs –  bridge was recently reopened at the beginning of September.

Related Post

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend