The Old Arch Bridge
This postcard shows the Old Arch Bridge when it was new. The bridge is the subject of the Banjo Dan tune The Old Arch Bridge that recounts how the bridge stubbornly stayed even as a demolition crew tried to collapse it with explosives in 1982.
On Monday, Dec. 6, 1982, after the fifth try with explosives, the bridge was
felled with a cutting torch. The plaque over the roadway is preserved on the monument by the "New Arch Bridge" (see below). The bottom sign says "NOTICE: Five Dollars Fine for Driving or Riding horse faster than a Walk on this Bridge per order of Selectmen."
From this monument on the New Hampshire side, you can still see the Town Hall clock tower across the river. The four plaques on the monument are below.
The Arch Bridge constructed during the winter of 1904-1905, consisted of two parts: a single span three hinged parabolic steel arch 540 feet long over the river proper and a 104 foot bow-string arch truss spanning the railroad on the Vermont side. When originally built, the bridge was 22 feet wide and its highest point was 70 feet above the level of the roadway. When completed in 1905 it was the only important bridge in this country in which the roadway was suspended from the arch instead of being supported by it. In August 1973, the arch bridge was listed in the Historic American Engineering Record. In July 1977, it was determined eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Due to safety considerations the Arch Bridge was closed to vehicular traffic in
September 1971. It was dismantled in October 1982, and replaced by a 4 span steel girder structure completed in 1984.
ERECTED BY TOWNS
WALPOLE AND ROCKINGHAM
LEWIS F. SHOEMAKER & CO., BUILDERS
E.K. SEABURY M.H. RAY
F.O. SMALLY C.W. OSGOOD
G.E. SEWARD J.C. DAY
G.U. O'NEIL G.H. WILLIAMS
W.H. KINIRY S.J. CRAY
OPENED TO THE PUBLIC MAR. 20, 1905
LENGTH OF SPANS, 540FT. & 104FT. 8IN.
TOTAL LENGTH OF BRIDGE 644FT, 8IN.
The "new arch bridge" is unremarkable, but really not bad looking. This picture, taken Oct. 14, 1996, looks over to the village of North Walpole NH. The floating barrels are the first line of defense for keeping unwary boaters away from the falls and also out of the power turbines. The green sign on the bridge is the the state line. New Hampshire actually owns the Connecticut River to the mean high water
line on the Vermont side, but the dam spread the river beyond its natural boundaries. The state line remains where the edge of the river would be if there were no dam.
Make no mistake, the Old Arch Bridge is missed. A local T-shirt printer
memorialized the landmark:
Back to The Catamount is Back.