Bailey Island Bridge

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Bailey Island Cobwork Bridge
Bailey Island Bridge from Bailey Island, looking toward Orr's Island
Nearest cityHarpswell, ME
Coordinates43°44′57.8″N 69°59′18.6″W / 43.749389°N 69.988500°W / 43.749389; -69.988500Coordinates: 43°44′57.8″N 69°59′18.6″W / 43.749389°N 69.988500°W / 43.749389; -69.988500
Architectural styleOther
NRHP reference #75000093[1]
Added to NRHPApril 28, 1975

The Bailey Island Bridge (also called the Cribstone Bridge) is a historic bridge in the town of Harpswell within Cumberland County in the state of Maine.


For many years, the residents of Bailey Island, Maine, advocated that a bridge be built to connect their island with Orr's Island.[2] The town of Harpswell, Maine, which encompasses both islands, turned down the request. However, when the Maine Legislature drafted a law allowing the state and counties to fund bridge construction, a plan emerged to build such a bridge. A contract was signed in 1926, with construction beginning on the Bailey Island Bridge in 1927 and finishing in 1928. The engineer for the project was Llewelyn N. Edwards, bridge engineer for the Maine State Highway Commission.[2]


Cribstones used in the cobwork construction of the bridge.

Design of the 1,150-foot bridge was complicated by the tides in the area known as Will's Gut. It was decided to build a cobwork bridge, using granite slabs as cribstones, acquired from local quarries in nearby Yarmouth, Maine. The slabs, longer than they are wide, are laid horizontally, first lengthwise, and then crosswise, in several layers. No mortar or cement is used. Granite slabs were considered sufficiently heavy to withstand wind and wave, while the open cribbing allowed the tide to ebb and flow freely without increasing tidal current to any great degree.[3]

Some 10,000 tons of granite were used in the project. A concrete road (now part of Route 24) was built on top of the cribstones.

Additions and Recognition[edit]

A sidewalk was added in 1951 and guard rails in 1961. The Bailey Island Bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975; on July 19, 1984, it was recognized as a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. The Bailey Island Bridge is reported to be the only granite cribstone bridge in the world.[2]

In 2009 and 2010, the bridge underwent reconstruction to repair cracked or sheared stones.[4] During the repairs, a 1,000-foot temporary bridge was placed alongside the cribstone bridge so that traffic could continue without disruption. On November 20, 2010, a ribbon-cutting ceremony and parade took place to celebrate the reopening of the bridge.[5] The restored bridge maintains the dimensions of the original, and the replacement stones were obtained from the same quarry in Yarmouth that supplied the original.

Photo gallery[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23.
  2. ^ a b c Hansen, Brett (January 2009). "Stacking Stones:The Bailey Island Bridge" (PDF). Civil Engineering. Reston, Virginia: American Society of Civil Engineers. 79 (1): 34–35. ISSN 0885-7024. Proposals were made many times in the 18th and 19th centuries to construct a bridge.
  3. ^ Frank Beard (December 17, 1974). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory - Nomination Form: Bailey Island Cobwork Bridge" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved December 29, 2015. Accompanying two photos.
  4. ^ "Cribstone Bridge Undergoing Repairs".
  5. ^ Delage, Sarah (November 20, 2010). "Community celebrates historic bridge restoration". WCSH. Retrieved 2010-11-20.


Further reading[edit]