The 6 Most Devastating Bridge Collapses in Maine

Written by Patrick MacFarland
Published: February 11, 2024
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Disasters happen all the time. The world we live in is filled with good things and bad things. Sometimes there are man-made disasters that cause harm, but there are other times when nature takes course and creates havoc and destruction. These disasters have happened since the beginning of time and they have happened all over the world. In the United States, bridge collapses have been low, but impactful. In Maine, there have been bridge collapses that have caused devastation. Let’s take a look at the six devastating bridge collapses in Maine. We’ll explore what happened, if there were any injuries or casualties, and other facts about the bridge collapses.

Ticonic Bridge Collapse

Maine Waterville - Winslow Bridge over Ticonic Falls and Kennebec River

The bridge connects Waterville and Winslow within US Route 201.

©A Janick/iStock via Getty Images

The bridge was built in the 1800s; it was a steel truss Bridge at the beginning. In the early 1900s, it was decided that there would be a concrete arch trolley bridge constructed instead. The new bridge opened to much fanfare in December 1909. The trolley system that used the bridge serviced more than 2 million passengers per year. But all was not good. In March 1936, the great flood that pummeled Maine also partly destroyed the Ticonic Bridge. A huge chunk of ice crashed into one of the piers and thus part of the bridge collapsed into the Kennebec River. Luckily, no one was injured. After reconstruction, the bridge was eventually opened to the public again. In 1970, the bridge was widened. Today, the Ticonic Bridge is scheduled to be replaced.

Iron Bridge Collapse

Maine on the Map

The collapse of the Iron Bridge was done purposefully to make way for a new steel bridge.

©Marcio Jose Bastos Silva/Shutterstock.com

Most bridges tend to collapse and it is a catastrophe because it happened suddenly. But sometimes, local officials or state officials decide to demolish a bridge or a building because it is no longer workable. This happened to the Iron Bridge in Guilford, ME. The Iron Bridge crossed Main Street between the Guilford Woolen Mill and the Scales building. The building was fitted with dynamite and then collapsed into the Piscataquis River. The government installed a temporary pedestrian bridge, however, that was destroyed by a flood later that year. Plans for a new steel bridge started after the dismantling of the Iron Bridge.

Buckfield Railroad Disaster

The bridge was located in Oxford County, ME.

©iStock.com/vistoff

The Buckfield railroad disaster was when the railroad bridge that a Portland and Oxford Railroad train was crossing collapsed. The train went through the railroad bridge. This happened on April 27, 1869, in Buckfield, ME. The train was only loaded with wood and there were no passengers on board. The only three people on the train were the conductor, an acting fireman, and another person — they all survived with no injuries whatsoever. The train went into the stream and caused havoc in the community.

Doubling Point Lighthouse Bridge Collapse

Doubling Point Lighthouse, Arrowsic Maine

Constructed in 1898, the Doubling Point Lighthouse is on the Kennebec River in Arrowsic, ME.

©Rebecca Alford/iStock via Getty Images

The Doubling Point Lighthouse has become a popular destination point and the Maine tourism board encourages visitors to the historic lighthouse. Maine Open Lighthouse Day is a yearly celebration that the US Coast Guard puts on to encourage visitors to go to historic lighthouses throughout the state. In September 2023, as tourists were visiting the Doubling Point Lighthouse, the pedestrian bridge that led them to the lighthouse suddenly collapsed. Eleven people were injured as the bridge fell below them. None died, but five were taken to the hospital. The Doubling Point Lighthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on January 21, 1988.

Fairbanks Bridge Disaster

Augusta Map, Maine USA

The Maine flood of 1987 affected the entire northeast where Maine experienced more than $100 million in damages.

©rzdeb/iStock via Getty Images

Unfortunately, the Fairbanks Bridge disaster was not an April Fool’s joke. On the morning of April 1, 1987, the Fairbanks Bridge collapsed into the Sandy River. That winter had been harsh and there was a pummeling of snow that eventually melted. Together with heavy rains caused and the waters rose to astronomical figures. Much of the northeast experienced heavy flooding during this time. Thousands of homes were destroyed or flooded, and roads and bridges were also damaged or destroyed. The Fairbanks Bridge collapsed into the river because of the flooding, but luckily no one was injured.

Androscoggin Swinging Bridge Flood Destruction

Androscoggin River, Maine

A flood in 1936 washed away much of the Androscoggin Swinging Bridge.

©Ray Tan/iStock via Getty Images

The Androscoggin Swinging Bridge was a pedestrian bridge that crossed the Androscoggin River. It was constructed in 1892 and served the community with thousands of people crossing the bridge every year. A flood in 1936, however, destroyed the bridge and the water washed away much of its decking and rails. The suspension cables survived and thus, the bridge was repaired. Today, the bridge has been completely transformed with almost no original parts.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Dmitrijs Kaminskis/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Patrick Macfarland is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering travel, geography, and history. Patrick has been writing for more than 10 years. In the past, he has been a teacher and a political candidate. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from SDSU and a Master's Degree in European Union Studies from CIFE. From San Diego, California, Patrick loves to travel and try new recipes to cook.

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