A. The same company that was responsible for design/build of the famous Brooklyn Bridge designed and built the suspension footbridge from Brunswick to Topsham Heights.
Although I’ve lived in Brunswick, Maine for almost 4 years now, it was just a few months ago that I finally stopped at that little pedestrian suspension bridge over the Androscoggin River. The bridge was built when the tenement housing in Brunswick (for workers of the Cabot Manufacturing textile mill – mostly immigrants from Quebec) became overcrowded. Additional housing being built in Topsham Heights required a way to cross the River when walking to work.
I stopped again today on a very, VERY, cold day in January. Walking out to the middle of the bridge and standing there briefly while freezing winds whipped through the cables brought to mind the mill workers who walked it each day on their way to work. My commute starts with pushing the remote control starter on my car to get a little warmth going before I leave home. Then it often requires a swing through the drive up at the local Tim Hortons for coffee. From there, it’s a 30 minute drive down I-295 to the Portland waterfront. By comparison, the commute must have been a cold uncomfortable walk for the mill workers. The deck of the bridge was iced over, the winds caused a slight sway, making the cable squeak with cold. The walking commute would have probably been the beginning and end of a 14 hour day in a noisy dust filled mill, 6 days a week. Something to think about while I sip my coffee and wait for my computer to warm up.
A few of the details:
The A.J. Roebling Sons Company built the bridge in 1892.
It was almost lost during a spring flood in 1936, but the bridge was repaired and the original wire suspension cables are still in use. (See archive image of flood damage to bridge.)
It was built for the mill workers, but also used by students and church goers as it provided access to St. John Catholic School and Church, as well as the Brunswick High School
For more information and some terrific old photos visit the Maine Memory Network.
More on Cabot Mill and the French Canadian immigrants that worked there.