7 votes

Black Bridge



Photo by Jet Lowe, Photographer, 1994 for HAER

View photos at Library of Congress

BH Photo #127759

Street Views 

Significance of former lower deck 

Was the only identified example of an unusual double-deck railroad and suspended vehicular bridge in the state, and a fine example of a rivet-connected Baltimore thru truss design. It is one of only four 1890-1928 Baltimore truss bridges identified in a recent state bridge survey. It was built in 1909 to replace an 1880 double-deck bridge, and illustrates the evolution of the truss type into a heavily-built structure capable of supporting increased locomotive weights. It carries a minor branch of the Maine Central, today used for local traffic, and is an alternate route to a larger road bridge downstream for road travel between Brunswick and Topsham.

Katherine Larson Farnham, HAER, November 1999


Baltimore through truss bridge over Androscoggin River on Pan Am Railways Lewiston Lower Branch in Brunswick
Brunswick, Cumberland County, Maine, and Sagadahoc County, Maine
Unique suspended deck demolished; railroad deck remains although practically unused
Future prospects
Entire bridge may face demolition by 2024 due to the fact that the remaining upper deck has practically been abandoned by the railroad. The last time a train was spotted on this bridge was over a year ago, and even then trains reportedly only crossed about once a month.
Built 1909; Approach span rebuilt 1957; rehabilitated 1987; lower deck demolished 2014
- Pennsylvania Steel Co. of Steelton, Pennsylvania
- Guilford Rail System (GRS)
- Maine Central Railroad (MEC)
- Pan Am Railways (PAR)
- Springfield Terminal Railway (ST)
Baltimore through truss bridge with suspended lower roadway, attached by pin-connected eyebars below the bottom chords of the trusses
Length of largest span: 200.1 ft.
Total length: 317.9 ft.
Deck width: 12.5 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 10.7 ft.
Eligible for the National Register of Historic Places
Also called
Free-Black Bridge
ST - Black Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+43.91607, -69.97513   (decimal degrees)
43°54'58" N, 69°58'30" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
19/421709/4863013 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Average daily traffic (as of 2013)
Inventory numbers
ME 0323 (Maine bridge number)
BH 19827 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection report (as of March 2015)
Sufficiency rating: 23.3 (out of 100)
View more at BridgeReports.com

Update Log 

  • July 6, 2020: New photos from Patrick Gurwell
  • April 25, 2018: Updated by Amanda: Added category "Historic Integrity Altered"
  • February 21, 2018: Essay added by Amanda
  • August 1, 2017: New photo from Michael Quiet
  • July 28, 2016: New Street View added by J.P.
  • January 4, 2015: New photos from Jack Schmidt
  • October 7, 2014: Photo imported by Brian Bartlett
  • January 12, 2014: Updated by Luke Harden: Added categories "Springfield Terminal Railway", "Pan Am Railways"
  • December 23, 2013: Updated by Brian bartlett: updated status
  • December 11, 2013: Photo imported by Brian bartlett
  • August 12, 2013: Updated by Dave King: Fixed name
  • May 13, 2013: Updated by Luke Harden: Added categories "Maine Central Railroad", "Railroad"
  • June 16, 2011: Updated by Nathan Holth: Added GPS and Street View
  • November 16, 2008: New photo from J.R. Manning


  • J.R. Manning - thekitchenguy [at] sbcglobal [dot] net
  • Nathan Holth
  • Dave King - DKinghawkfan [at] hotmail [dot] com
  • Brian Bartlett - worumbo54 [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Jack Schmidt - jjturtle [at] earthlink [dot] net
  • J.P. - wildcatjon2000 [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Michael Quiet - mquiet [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Patrick Gurwell - pgurwell [at] gmail [dot] com


Black Bridge
Posted January 30, 2021, by daniel p gannon (dgannon100 [at] gmail [dot] com)

I want to see this bridge preserved and am willing to contribute $ to help it happen. And I'm from Rhode Island for cryin' out loud!

Black Bridge
Posted February 21, 2018, by John Marvig (marvigj27 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Well fortunately, there could be 6+ years to save the bridge. Now would be the time to begin organizing a movement to save this landmark.

Black Bridge
Posted February 21, 2018, by Amanda

The railroad has been almost completely abandoned and may face demolition by 2024. Last time a train was spotted crossing this bridge was over a year ago, and even then, reportedly trains only crossed about once a month.

This bridge altogether with its former lower deck would’ve been a great candidate for restoration for pedestrian use. With the railroad abandoned, and the lower deck no longer safe for traffic, we could see a unique bridge with pedestrians only on one deck and bicycles only on another deck. Yet, instead MaineDOT had to remove the unique lower deck and now threaten to demolish the entire bridge if the railroad doesn’t start “using it” again. Shameful.

Black Bridge
Posted August 5, 2017, by David A. Shaw (scpry2 [at] hotmail [dot] com)

If the State of Maine spent the money and Maintained the existing bridges, instead of letting them rust and fall apart, then they would not have to replace so many. As a tax payer, I'm a VERY dissatisfied customer!

Black Bridge
Posted January 3, 2015, by Ralph Demars

Rail traffic has not been over this bridge in a while.

Black Bridge
Posted November 6, 2014, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

I received notification that the lower deck demolition is completed. On HistoricBridges.org I have a special status identifier "L" to indicate a bridge that isn't totally demolished, but has experienced loss of the critical elements of historic significance. A similar status identifier should be considered here... since this is no longer a unique bridge that is one-of-a-kind, but is now just a regular riveted RR through truss... still a historic structure, but about as far from unique as its possible to be.

Black Bridge #1
Posted August 31, 2014, by Ralph Demars (rdemars1 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

There goes the deck!

Black Bridge
Posted May 5, 2014, by Anonymous


Black Bridge
Posted May 4, 2014, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

C'mon Luke... That was just a bit of editorial dramatization!


Black Bridge
Posted May 4, 2014, by Luke Harden (lukemh9 [at] gmail [dot] com)

"After removal, the vehicle bridge structure will be completely gone and just the train trestle will remain."

Removal ≠ blown up.

Black Bridge
Posted May 4, 2014, by Anonymous



No surprise,though.

Black Bridge
Posted April 17, 2014, by Save The Maine Trusses

The floodwaters are getting really close to send this bridge to its watery grave. Only about 5 FT. from the road deck! Fingers crossed.

Black Bridge
Posted March 12, 2014, by Jeanne McKenna (meanjeanne [at] myfairpoint [dot] net)

The statement made on the first comment about the daily traffic is, in my opinion, grossly understated. The traffic coming and going to BIW daily would place the number of cars crossing the bridge closer to forty or fifty besides the regular citizen traffic. I live in what is known as Topsham Heights and my doctor, grocery store, church, close friends and relatives are all readily accessible by the Black Bridge. Since its closure, I have to circle around to the Green Bridge which adds miles and gas consumption weekly. The cost of repair, a little over a million dollars is a mere pittance compared to most DOT jobs. The majority of the citizenry in the area would like to see the bridge repaired and put to good use. The fact that it is a historic bridge should also prevent the destruction of it.

Androscoggin River Railroad Bridge
Posted July 6, 2013, by Mike

I can't disagree with your assessment, and I'm sad that this decision was made; however, MaineDOT has been severely underfunded for decades, and that situation has gotten dramatically worse during the past two years because of the current governor. DOT is being put in the position of having to choose only those projects with the highest priority and affecting the highest number of people, so it's no surprise that this bridge didn't make the cut (I believe it was only carrying 5 or 6 cars a day when it was still in service). As a bridge fan and as a Mainer, I'm still very sad about it... although this sadness can't even begin to compare to my continued sadness over losing the Waldo-Hancock Bridge... something that could've been prevented if MaineDOT had an aggressive and fully-funded preventative maintenance program...

Androscoggin River Railroad Bridge
Posted July 5, 2013, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

What else would you expect from a DOT that treats historic bridges like they are a cockroach infestation? This suspended deck is one of the most unique features I have ever seen on a historic bridge. The entire deck was suspended from the truss by rods held together by a pin-connected system.

Androscoggin River Railroad Bridge
Posted July 5, 2013, by Mike

MaineDOT announced today that they are going to permanently remove the lower vehicle deck, as it would be cost prohibitive to repair or replace it.


Androscoggin River Railroad Bridge
Posted May 24, 2013, by Brice Bowman-Laberge (bricebowman [at] gmail [dot] com)

just to give an update on this bridge, this bridge is closed and has been for some time. It had been open to pedestrian crossing only for a while and months ago it was closed to all traffic, pedestrian or otherwise.

Thanks for the site though i am really geeking out on this stuff


Androscoggin River Railroad Bridge
Posted July 15, 2011, by Matt Lohry

I assume this bridge is classified as a Baltimore by HAER--I believe that it is rather a subdivided Warren truss, as you can trace the main diagonals without lifting your finger.

Androscoggin River Railroad Bridge
Posted July 15, 2011, by Insaneboy (spm [at] macomber [dot] com)

Road portion of the bridge was closed April 6, due to an accident(car hit one of the steel support rods). inspected July 11th, and found extensive repairs are necessary. MDOT does not have the funding for repairs. So the road portion closed until further notice. Railroad section is unaffected and remains opened.