There are hundreds of thousands of bridges in the United States. Many of them are famous as landmarks and incredible feats of engineering. Who hasn’t heard of the Brooklyn Bridge or the Golden Gate Bridge? The Bay Bridge or the Chesapeake Bay Bridge?
From these grand structures crossing vast expanses of water to rustic covered bridges over rural streams, many American bridges are historic. 24/7 Wall St. has compiled a list of the country’s oldest bridges, starting with a master list of almost 10,000 built before 1910. (For a picture of what things were like in earlier days in this country, see this collection of 50 photos from American life in the 19th century.)
Some of the bridges on our list were built long before 1910. Some even date back to the 18th century. Not surprisingly, these tend to be found in the Northeast, particularly in the original Thirteen Colonies. The oldest bridge in Massachusetts dates back to 1764, the oldest in New Jersey to 1792. They might be worth seeing when we can travel again to the most beautiful places to visit in the U.S.
To identify the states with the oldest bridges, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the Federal Highway Administration’s National Bridge Inventory (NBI) to look at the 9,857 bridges in the United States built before 1910. The average age of a state bridge was calculated using the total number of bridges and their years of use in each state. Year of construction and the geographic crossing of each bridge was from the NBI report, updated in 2020. Additional information was obtained from the U.S. National Parks Service’s Registry of Historic Places; Bridgehunter.com, a site maintained by the non-profit Historic Bridge Foundation; and Bridgereports.com, a searchable version of the NBI database. According to Bridgereports, construction dates in the NBI database are often estimated, especially those ending in “00” or “05,” and in some cases the NBI doesn’t note that the original bridges have been rebuilt.
While history buffs will enjoy reading about these old bridges, the officials who have to maintain them might view things somewhat differently. Many bridges still get a lot of use and some of them are in poor condition, although that does not necessarily mean that they are unsafe or about to collapse. They are all, however, part of our nation’s aging infrastructure, to which new attention is now being paid.