4 votes

Ponakin Bridge


Ma1172 'Barrel Shot' Showing Truss And Wooden Deck

Photo taken by Historic American Engineering Record

View photos at Library of Congress

BH Photo #154711



Abandoned post through truss bridge over North Branch Nashua River on Ponakin Road in Lancaster
Lancaster, Worcester County, Massachusetts
Built 1871; closed to traffic 1978
- Simeon S. Post (Truss design)
- Watson Manufacturing Co. of Paterson, New Jersey
Wrought- and cast-iron Post through truss
Span length: 100.0 ft.
Total length: 100.0 ft.
Deck width: 20.7 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 14.8 ft.
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on September 10, 1979
Also called
Ponakin Mill Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+42.48122, -71.68522   (decimal degrees)
42°28'52" N, 71°41'07" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
19/279292/4706702 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Inventory numbers
NRHP 79000378 (National Register of Historic Places reference number)
BH 44061 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • August 20, 2020: New photos from Nick Boppel
  • July 30, 2020: New photos from Patrick Gurwell
  • June 18, 2020: New photo from Patrick Gurwell
  • May 3, 2020: New photo from Patrick Gurwell
  • April 26, 2020: Updated by Nick Boppel: Mark bridge as dereliect/abandoned as it is no longer accessible from the ground
  • April 24, 2017: New photos from Chester Gehman
  • August 10, 2016: Updated by Christopher Finigan: Added category "Pin-connected"
  • June 14, 2014: New photos from Chester Gehman
  • February 8, 2010: Added by James Baughn


  • Historicbridges.org - by Nathan Holth
  • HAER MA-13 - Ponakin Road Bridge, Spanning Nashua River on Ponakin Road, Lancaster vicinity, Worcester County, MA
  • Wikipedia
  • Chester Gehman - gehmanc2000 [at] yahoo [dot] com
  • Nick Boppel - nickboppel01 [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Patrick Gurwell - pgurwell [at] gmail [dot] com


Ponakin Bridge
Posted August 20, 2020, by Nick Boppel (nickboppel01 [at] gmail [dot] com)

I discovered and was pleasantly surprised that the trees that previously surrounded the Route 70 access point to this bridge had been mostly removed, and therefore the short trail is no longer in the woods and had thus been reopened. However, I was infuriated to find that whoever took all of the time and effort to clear the forest in the area had just dumped all of the tree limbs and branches in a pile right in front of the bridge approach!!

That being said, there is also a short trail down to the riverfront for canoe/kayak launches, and this was open so I was able to walk down and get quite a few photos looking up at the bridge from underneath. The bridge is in decent condition considering how long it has been abandoned and unmaintained. My biggest area of concern is that a portion of the lower chord is buckled and bent on both ends of the span and on both sides of the truss. I doubt there has been a major enough flood to rise the river level to the height of this bridge (which is much higher than the Atherton Bridge), so my guess is that the bottom chord was damaged by a large tree branch that smashed into it, likely while being whipped around by a strong wind gust. Despite the fact that significant portions of the wooden deck are missing, the underlying deck stringers and floorbeams remain intact.

The west side of the bridge, from Ponakin Road, is completely inaccessible without proper hiking equipment - the overgrowth is so extensive that I would not recommend that anyone attempt to go through there without proper equipment due to the likelihood of ticks and poison ivy.

Ponakin Bridge
Posted August 18, 2020, by Patrick Gurwell (pgurwell [at] gmail [dot] com)


On the West side look for the maybe 6ft of guardrail on Ponakin Rd. At that point the old road leaves towards the river.

I would check out the Rt 70 side first, but the other side is manageable, however, in the summer, there will be a lot of growth.

This is a nice bridge and worth checking out whatever time of the year.

Ponakin Bridge
Posted August 18, 2020, by Patrick Gurwell (pgurwell [at] gmail [dot] com)

Off of Rt 70, on the east side of the river, there is a parking area and easy access to the bridge. The other side is a little more difficult.

Ponakin Bridge
Posted October 30, 2019, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

This Nationally important bridge should have long been preserved, it should be a disgrace for local preservation groups to see it that way!

Ponakin Bridge
Posted October 30, 2019, by Anonymous

There were several rumors being circulated among residents of the surrounding communities that this bridge had collapsed... however I have verified for myself that the bridge is intact but is not accessible. The wooden deck has completely deteriorated and has rotted away, but the iron superstructure remains intact. The narrow and steep trail through the woods that formerly connected this bridge to a nearby road was indefinitely closed last month due to the Triple E scare with no plans for reopening any time soon. The trail had not been maintained recently, anyways.

Ponakin Bridge
Posted April 21, 2014, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)