From Providence to East Providence, Rhode Island spans a bridge with a Facebook page. The Crook Point Bridge waits like a sentry, quietly watching over the Seekonk River, for someone to lower her down.
The bridge is a “bascule” bridge – a “drawbridge” in more common terms – and has been left in its “stuck-up” position since being abandoned in 1976. The bridge was built in 1908 as part of the East Side Railroad Tunnel project, as a way to connect the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad lines to Union Station. It saw a lot of activity, both in terms of train traffic above and river traffic below, until the mid-1970s when train travel began to fall off. Keeping the Crook Point Bridge up (and down) and running was costly, and the reduced train use couldn’t make it pay off. So rather than dismantle the bridge, they simply pulled up the draw, and left it that way. For nearly 40 years it has both vexed and inspired Rhode Islanders and chroniclers of its ghostly beauty.
This particular bascule bridge is a Scherzer Rolling Lift bridge, named for the company that invented the technology that operates it. Think of it like a rocking chair – the end of the section that lifts (the leaf) is curved like the runners of a rocking chair, and rather than putting the leaf on heavy hinges, you simply “rock” the curvature back, and that raises the leaf. Pretty ingenious.
Oddly enough, many residents of Providence and East Providence, while maybe not exactly proud of their Stuck Up Bridge, do seem to have a kind of sentimental attachment to it. Drawbridges have always had a particular kind of charisma – as far back as castles with moats and drawbridges, or as kids watching them rise and seeing ships travel underneath, and one of the most famous bascules of them all, London Tower Bridge, has inspired historians, artists and writers for well over a hundred years. Crook Point Bridge has provided its share of inspiration too, for graffiti artists, Rhode Island School of Design projects, and amateur as well as professional photographers. With no development plans in the near future, it’s anyone’s guess if and when the bridge will come down.