Chain Bridge (Massachusetts)

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Chain Bridge
Chain Bridge Newburyport.jpg
Chain Bridge, 1990
Carries Vehicular and pedestrian traffic
Crosses Merrimack River
Locale Newburyport, Massachusetts
Official name Essex-Merrimac Bridge
Design Suspension bridge
Longest span 225 feet
No. of spans 1
Designer George Fillmore Swain & Robert R. Evans
Construction begin 1909
Construction end 1910
Toll No

The Chain Bridge is a 225-foot, single-span suspension bridge, which crosses the right branch of the Merrimack River flowing around Deer Island. As the boundary between the city of Newburyport and the city of Amesbury, Massachusetts runs through Deer Island, Chain Bridge does connect the two communities. Crossing from the island to the left bank of the Merrimack requires traversing the Derek S. Hines Memorial Bridge, formerly the Essex-Merrimack Drawbridge[1] (reconstructed and reopened in August, 2012[2]). As the Chain Bridge is better known because of its structure, it is often incorrectly represented in literature as a single bridge spanning the Merrimack.


Early-1900s photograph of the bridge with a trolley crossing

The current span was completed in 1910 at the site of two previous bridges. The first was a timber-arch truss which existed between 1792 and 1810. It was replaced in 1810 by a wrought-iron chain suspension bridge.[3] This was replaced by the current span in 1909, which is still referred to as "Chain Bridge".[4]

The Chain Bridge is the only suspension bridge currently maintained by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. In 1990 the bridge was part of a statewide survey as part of the Massachusetts Historic Bridge Recording Project. It has undergone several renovations, most recently in 2003.[5]