9 votes

Bellows Falls Arch Bridge


Credit Jtl General View Looking Upstream And Towards New Hampshire, Unidentified 'Crazy Man' Perched On Top Of Arch

Photo taken by Historic American Engineering Record

View photos at Library of Congress

BH Photo #137583


Lost steel through arch bridge over the Connecticut River between Bellows Falls, Vermont, and North Walpole, New Hampshire
Bellows Falls, Windham County, Vermont, and Cheshire County, New Hampshire
Replaced by a new bridge
Built 1905; damaged by flooding in 1936; closed to traffic 1971; demolished 1982
- American Bridge Co. of New York (1936 Repairs)
- Joseph R. Worchester of Boston, Massachusetts (Engineer)
- Joseph Ross & Sons of Boston, Massachusetts (Masonry Work)
- Lewis F. Shoemaker & Co. of Pottstown, Pennsylvania (Contractor) [also known as Shoemaker Bridge Co.]
Steel through arch
Total length: 644.7 ft.
Approximate latitude, longitude
+43.13792, -72.44845   (decimal degrees)
43°08'17" N, 72°26'54" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
18/707511/4779291 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Bellows Falls
Inventory number
BH 42371 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • February 1, 2022: New photo from Chester Gehman
  • July 22, 2020: Updated by Nick Boppel: Added category "Replaced by UCEB"
  • February 7, 2018: New photo from Dana and Kay Klein
  • December 18, 2017: New photo from Dana and Kay Klein
  • September 8, 2016: New photo from Dave King
  • June 17, 2014: Updated by Luke Harden: Added buider info from vermontgenealogy
  • June 17, 2014: New photo from Chester Gehman
  • August 24, 2011: New photo from David Backlin
  • May 31, 2011: Updated by Nathan Holth: Fixed County Listing: This Is A County Line Bridge
  • April 19, 2009: Added by James Baughn

Related Bridges 



Bellows Falls Arch Bridge
Posted August 5, 2020, by Nick Boppel (nickboppel01 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Y'know, it really bothers me that they still call the modern replacement USEB (Ugly Steel Eyesore Bridge) "The Arch Bridge". Sure, the steel girders have a slight arched/curved shape to them, but continuing to call the crossing "The Arch Bridge" seem unwise at best, insulting at worst.

Bellows Falls Arch Bridge
Posted July 2, 2019, by Scott Gavin (trainnut1956 [at] gmail [dot] com)

I saw this bridge about a month before it was demolished. I saw the news broadcast about its destruction, too. After repeated attempts to blow it up, they finally resorted to cutting through the arches with welding torches and then made a final attempt. When it went down, it fell sideways and landed in the river more or less in one piece. When the newscaster interviewed a local boy, the kid shook his head in disgust at the silliness of adults and said "They told us it was so unsafe we couldn't even walk across it."

Bellows Falls Arch Bridge
Posted June 17, 2014, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Chester, If you can't remember where it goes, and can't find a listing here, maybe just add it as a new bridge entry with your best guess of its location... or leave the map blank on the new page. Somebody will probably recognize it. Its a really interesting bridge that deserves a page! You might also try contacting Jim Garvin, he is a historic bridge expert who lives in that neck of the woods. http://www.james-garvin.com/contactus.html

Bellows Falls Arch Bridge
Posted June 17, 2014, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Chester, the photo you posted appears to be of a different bridge. The Bellows Falls Bridge was a much larger bridge. See the other photos.

Bellows Falls Arch Bridge
Posted October 27, 2011, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Good find. The Internet Archive has a higher quality scan of this book and you can link to it: http://www.archive.org/stream/proceedings0834amer#page/202/m... Also, unlike Google, the good folks over at the Archive actually unfold the plan sheets in the book and scan those too. I found some beautiful measured drawings of the arch bridge here.

Bellows Falls Arch Bridge
Posted October 27, 2011, by Will Truax (Bridgewright [at] ymail [dot] com)

In researching the RR Bridge which predated the 1882 Iron Lattice which can be seen in the distance in this image, I turned up this amazingly detailed description of the construction of the Arch Bridge -

Click on the Photo and scroll around - good stuff


Can you not use the Google Books clip feature here?

Go to > Google > More > Books > Proceedings of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Volume 34, Part 1 - 202

Bellows Falls Arch Bridge
Posted June 10, 2011, by Clark Vance (cvance [at] dogmail [dot] com)

Shorpy posted a hi-def picture:


This was a great looking bridge.

Bellows Falls Arch Bridge
Posted June 1, 2011, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

I remember this one from way back when.......what an absolute waste!!!

Bellows Falls Arch Bridge
Posted June 1, 2011, by Spanfan (susorcar [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Nathan, I read a few of the other news clippings attached to your link. The bridge actually withstood FOUR (count 'em, FOUR) blast attempts to bring it down. They finally cut it apart at one end with blowtorches, & it finally fell down. And they'd closed the bridge years before for structural problems-ironic, isn't it? (no pun intended)

Bellows Falls Arch Bridge
Posted May 31, 2011, by Nathan Holth

In case anyone was wondering how to identify a demolition project that is stupid and does nothing other than waste money and destroy history consider this bridge. So-called demolition "experts" attempted to blow this bridge up TWO TIMES with hundreds of explosives and the bridge didn't even collapse. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=9MFaAAAAIBAJ&sjid=DFkDA...