Schell Bridge

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Schell Bridge
IMG 4008-Schell-Bridge.jpg
Coordinates 42°42′44″N 72°27′12″W / 42.71222°N 72.45333°W / 42.71222; -72.45333Coordinates: 42°42′44″N 72°27′12″W / 42.71222°N 72.45333°W / 42.71222; -72.45333
Crosses Connecticut River
Locale Northfield, Massachusetts
ID number MUN236002100
Design Pennsylvania (Petit) truss bridge
Material Steel
Total length 515 feet (157 m)
Width 19 feet (5.8 m)
Longest span 352 feet (107 m)
Designer Edward S. Shaw
Construction start 1901
Construction end 1903
Opened 1903 (1903)
Closed 1985
Schell Bridge is located in Massachusetts
Schell Bridge
Schell Bridge
Location in Massachusetts

The Schell Memorial Bridge is a steel cantilever Pennsylvania (Petit) truss bridge spanning the Connecticut River in the town of Northfield, Massachusetts. Designed by Edward S. Shaw, the bridge was built by the New England Structural Company of East Everett, Massachusetts. Construction began in 1901 and was completed in 1903. In 1985, due to advanced deterioration of the steel truss members, the bridge was barricaded and abandoned.[1] The Schell Bridge is eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.[2]

Despite recent efforts by preservationists to save the historic bridge, demolition of the bridge is currently being planned for the winter of 2018-2019 by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.[3]

After initially being scheduled for demolition by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation in 2007 or 2008, efforts by local preservationists to save the historical landmark delayed the proposed demolition.[4] In 2013, a group called "Friends of the Schell Bridge", which had been dedicated to saving the bridge, reversed course and sided with the state in favor of demolishing the historic bridge.[5]

Preservation effort[edit]

A year-long engineering study was performed by the Picker Engineering School at Smith College, which determined that the bridge is structurally sound and is a good candidate for rehabilitation.[4] There has been no accessible bridge crossing between East Northfield and West Northfield since the closing of the bridge in 1985, besides the large Route 10 bridge a mile to the South. Northfield is the only town in Franklin County to be divided by the Connecticut River.

It has been proposed that, if preserved, the bridge will be reopened only to travel by foot, bicycle, snowmobile, and emergency vehicle. It would be integrated into the tri-state rails-to-trails initiative connecting a series of recreational trails in northern Massachusetts, southwestern New Hampshire, and southeastern Vermont. The bridge would also be available for evacuations, especially important as Northfield is located only 5 miles (8 km) from the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant.

Application has been made to the National Park Service to add the Schell Bridge to the National Register of Historic Places.

Image gallery[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bennett, Lola (August 1990). "Schell Memorial Bridge" (PDF). Historic American Engineering Record. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress. 
  2. ^ Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation. "National Bridge Inventory Data Sheet - 1992 Inventory. Rep. No. MUN236002100" (PDF). Retrieved January 1, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Project 607588: Northfield - Bridge Removal, N-22-002, Schell Bridge over the Connecticut River & Replacement with Pedestrian Bridge". Project Information. Massachusetts Department of Transportation. July 2013. Retrieved January 1, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Spaulding, Maureen; Ross, Sue (2007). "Schell Memorial Bridge Threatened" (PDF). Society for Industrial Archeology Newsletter. 36 (2): 4–5. 
  5. ^ "Schell Bridge". Retrieved January 1, 2014. 

External links[edit]