1 vote



Bootleggers bridge resident circa 1922

Historic view


BH Photo #384981


Street Views 


Ship mounted Sherzer Rolling lift to ship mounted Strass Heel Trunion Bascule


I. B Tipplin

The "Bootleggers" or "Smugglers" Bridge was a prohibition created phenomena. An open secret on the Niagara frontier it was extant from 1920 to 1933. Photographs are very rare due to the nature of business conducted. Oral histories gathered in Pine Street Taverns Niagara Falls circa 1980 indicate it was thus: Two ships One a Canadian passenger liner the other a US Fire boat tug Ice breaker circled each other at the international border. One had a Sherzer Rolling Lift deck mounted the other A Strass heel trunion bascule deck mounted. Boats skiffs rafts etc came and went day and night moving Brador and Labatts and Canadian Club. Hundreds of people lived here full time . If the revenuers from one country or the other arrived bridges would be lowered and the illicit cargo would be quickly transferred to the other ship which would high tail it to port. In winter the ice breaker had to circle continuously in order to keep commerce going. In summer it was a floating resort with flappers and swells visiting for long periods. It is rumored that even after prohibition many locals continued to patronize out of habit and to walk the bridges ship to ship. Not verified but may have been extant into the 80's. A lone Kansas Bridge hunter is rumored to have made the trek but took off before he could be interviewed. The only verification of this is a quick camera shot of his fast moving vehicle. A maritime legacy is the Lake Erie Greeting among boaters of "Wheres the Bridge?" The reply being, " Right Here!" and an exchange of libations is performed.


Ship mounted Sherzer Rolling Lift to Strass Heel Trunion Bascule
Lake Erie, Niagara County, New York
Length of largest span: 150.0 ft.
Total length: 300.0 ft.
Deck width: 40.0 ft.
Skew angle
2 degrees
Also called
"Smugglers Bridge" "Boot Leggers Bridge"
Approximate latitude, longitude
+43.44978, -79.19838   (decimal degrees)
43°26'59" N, 79°11'54" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
17/645772/4812340 (zone/easting/northing)
600 ft. above sea level
Inventory numer
BH 75299 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • August 17, 2017: Updated by Dana and Kay Klein: Added category "Destroyed by Solar Eclipse"
  • March 31, 2017: Updated by Dana and Kay Klein: Set Pin compass VS GPS
  • January 23, 2017: Added by Dana and Kay Klein

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