Penobscot Narrows Bridge

Have you visited the Penobscot Narrows Bridge yet? It is one of Maine’s newest wonders and quite a sight to see. The bridge opened in May of 2007 and a one minute elevator ride on the fastest elevator in Maine (well—fastest in New Hampshire and Vermont too) will take you to the top of the tallest public bridge-observatory in the world. The 420-foot observatory tower is  fashioned after the Washington Monument and offers an awesome, panoramic 360-degree view. The bridge towers forty-two stories high – one of only three sPenobscot Narrows Bridgeuch bridge observatories and the only one in the western hemisphere. Wow!! and it is right here in Maine.

The bridge routes traffic on Route 1 across the Penobscot River near Bucksport—between the communities of Prospect and Verona Island.

For those of you that want to know the technical information about this bridge, the Wikipedia states the following about the bridge “The Penobscot Narrows Bridge is a cable-stayed bridge over the Penobscot River near Bucksport, Maine. It replaces the Waldo-Hancock Bridge, built in 1931. The new bridge is 2,120 feet (646 m) long. It is one of two bridges in the U.S. constructed recently to utilize a cradle system that carries the strands within the stays from bridge deck to bridge deck, as a continuous element, eliminating anchorages in the pylons.Each epoxy-coated steel strand is carried inside the cradle in a one-inch steel tube. Each strand acts independently, allowing for removal, inspection and replacement of individual strands. The cable-stay system was designed with a system that uses pressurized nitrogen gas to defend against corrosion. Additionally, in June 2007, six reference strands within three stays were replaced with carbon fiber strands – a first in the U.S. Monitoring on the strands will evaluate this material for future use in bridge designs. These engineering innovations helped the bridge appear in the December 2006 editNight view of Penobscot Narrows Bridgeion of Popular Science as one of the 100 best innovations of the year. The total project cost was $85 million. The bridge was designed as an emergency replacement for the Waldo-Hancock Bridge and from conception to completion, just 42 months elapsed.

You can drive over the bridge anytime but the observatory is only open from May 1st to October 31st and is accessed from Fort Knox. I have vowed to get up my courage and go up next summer. I’m afraid of heights (me, who had a pilots license and flew a plane—go figure!) but I am going to do this!

As an added bit of interest, while I was researching the bridge, I found some information that I would like to share. On July 21, 2007, the Bangor Daily news reported: ” Blasting near the bridge revealed “a granite seam in the ledge that looks remarkably like a human footprint, toes and all.”

The footprint complements another local legend concerning a leg, which marks a Revolutionary War gravestone in a nearby Bucksport, thanks to a curse cast by a condemned witch. Stay tuned and I will make that the topic of my next post.

While you are waiting my next post, be sure to check out this great video called “Wicked Cool Bridge” by Roger McCord.


  1. manju says

    Wicked cool, indeed! Might have to detour on our next trip to Camp! ; )

    p.s. “Grand-kitty??!!”….

  2. Debbie says

    I had no idea this bridge was an observatory. We have driven across this bridge several times and never knew you could go up in an elevator. Can’t wait to take the fastest elevator to the top this summer.