The Wire Bridge is a true landmark for the small town of New Portland. It is a popular spot for family outings, fishing excursions and snapping pictures or for people merely curious about the 150-year-old civil engineering marvel.
The bridge is the last of its kind built in the area in the mid-1880s. The first suspension bridge was built in 1852, spanning the Carrabassett River in Kingfield until it was replaced with the concrete Centennial Bridge in 1916.
According to the historic Maine Department of Transportation records, David Elder and Capt. Charles B. Clark designed and constructed the bridge over the Carrabassett River near the Lemon Stream tributary. The bridge, spanning 198 feet from tower to tower, was completed in 1866 after two years of construction. March 1, 1866, Town Report lists a payment of $3,624.97 to David Elder and with no other information attached to the line item, it is believed this was payment for the construction of the bridge. MaineDOT Historic Planner Kurt Jergensen explains, “The Wire Bridge is the only early suspension bridge remaining in Maine and is one of the earliest examples in the U.S. today. The wooden towers and a wooden deck system were very likely patterned after the similar bridge constructed over the Sandy River at Strong in 1856.” The bridge was renovated in 1961 when the tower bases were capped with concrete, the towers were rebuilt, steel suspender rods were replaced by steel cables, and new decking was installed. In 2010, the bridge was renovated again with work on the outside of the steel cables. The tower framing timbers and main support cables are the original material. The Maine Chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers dedicated the bridge in 1990 and recognized it as the only one of its kind in the state being traveled across daily. That continues to be true. Whether walking or driving the wooden planked bridge, expect to feel movement as the bridge sways. A family-friendly picnic area with tables and grills is set in the shadows of the bridge. The area is pet-friendly and it is common to see dogs swimming or running the shores of the river.
The following article and photo which originally came from the Associated Press in Boston gives another view of the history behind the bridge.
Directions to Wire Bridge Coming from the Bangor area, once you get to North Anson follow Rt16 West for 5.6 miles, turn left on Katie Crotch road. Follow Katie Crotch Road for 2 miles, then take a slight left onto Rt. 146. After you cross the cement bridge turn right to continue on Rt. 146 for 4.1 miles. Take right to Tannery Bridge Road for.1 miles and turn right onto Wire Bridge Road. You will cross the Wire Bridge in about .5 miles.
Coming from the South. From downtown Farmington follow Rt. 27 North for 2.1 miles, turn slight right to continue on Rt. 27 North for 13.7 miles. Turn right onto Rt. 146, turn left at bottom of the hill, turn right onto Wire Bridge Road. Continue to follow Wire Bridge Road for .7 miles.
For directions from Rt. 16/27 in Carrabassett Valley, stop at the Maine's Northwestern Mountains Visitors Center for directions going south.
The Wire Bridge is also accessible via snowmobiles/ATV trails.
Photos courtesy of Wire Bridge Photography