The Wire Bridge in New Portland Maine

The Wire Bridge in New Portland MaineThe Wire Bridge

The Wire bridge is worth visiting. This Maine bridge may be the last wire-supported bridge of its type in the world! If not the world at least in the United States. Crossing the Carrabassett River  is a unique experience one car at a time.

A Bit of History for this Bridge

Don’t you just love a mystery? The origins of this bridge go back before the Town of New Portland kept financial records. The only thing we can know for sure is that by 1866 there was a Wire Bridge in New Portland.

It was right around this time that 4 bridges were built  in Maine, with timber-on-granite tower structures at each end, a wooden plank roadbed in the middle, and cables (or “wires” – hence the name) holding everything up.The Scenic Wire Bridge in New Portland

The other three wire bridges have since been torn down and replaced, and bits of this one has been restored and preserved over the years. The planks of the roadbed have been replaced at least once, but it’s still the same wire holding everything together.

Wooden Planks and wire struts

The bridge spans 198 ft.  Between those 198 feet are timbers and towers that have carried 150 years of horses, carriages, Model T’s, pick-ups and minivans through the splendor of deep woods Maine.  And as far as anyone can tell, it’s the only one of its kind left and I drove over it! I watched a car pass over the bridge before I gave it a try. Bouncy, bouncy , bouncy. Oh yeah, had to give it a try. It actually felt much more stable driving over it than walking. You just don’t feel the bounce that you see when you watch a car drive over it.

walking across the wire bridge in New Portland MaineIf You Plan to Go

Follow the signs off Rte 146 in North New Portland, you will eventually come to Wire Bridge Rd.

New Portland is in the Maine woods, about half way between Bangor and the Canadian border. Only about 725 people live there, and every one of them could probably point you to their showpiece – the old Wire Bridge.

 

Credits

Many Thanks to the Atlas Obscura for the history of the Wire Bridge

Time to make the Decision not the Donuts

Decision Timewalking across the wire bridge in New Portland Maine

While I considered my options I spotted a young man walking his dog. I explained my dilemma and he recommended continuing on the back roads. Of course he, like my directions, left out a few things, like a T intersection. Which way now? Another decision! I chose right bumping along the dirt road for another mile or two before it changed back to hard top.

Back on Route 27.

Carrabasett RiverEventually I worked my way back to the first Wire Bridge sign. I’d gone full circle. At least I knew where I was now. I got back on RT 27 and started looking for Rt 234. Several miles along I spotted it but now do I go east or West? My directions didn’t say. I chose to go straight (west). It felt like I was driving forever as is typical when you have no idea where you’re going.

Strong

Eventually I drove into a town called Strong. Unfortunately  at that point I lost RT 234. This was really turning into quite the scenic drive. Like Gilligan’s 3 hour cruise, my 2 hour scenic drive was the never-ending drive heading into it’s 3rd hour. I was now on Rt 142 or was it Rt 145? I kept seeing signs for both but it was far too late to turn around. Best to keep on truckin’.

Phillips

Holy moly another T intersection but at least this one has road signs. 12 miles to the left to Phillips or 3 miles to the right to Errol. I don’t know Errol but I do know that I can find RT 4 in Phillips so Phillips it is. Just then the skies opened up and the rain started in torrents. It was just sunny! What happened!?

Route 4 and back to Rangeley.Field of Lupine

The rain stopped as quickly as it started just as I got on RT 4. Now it was deja vu. This was how I drove into  Rangeley the first day. I passed Small Falls. I would have stopped but I was afraid the rain might start again. I’ll save it for another day. Then I passed the dirt bank from the “You have reached your destination” fiasco. Next up was the trail head for the Appalachian Trail. I was on a roll now. I knew exactly where I was. I drove past the Suds and Sizzle, the IGA and finally my resort. I’d earned a lunch out for a change. I’m headed for the Red Onion.

Scenic Drive #2 continues

Scenic Drive #2 continues

After the ducklings and a moose I almost decided to call it a day. What more could I want and it was only 9 AM! But no, lets finish what I stated so back on the road to Stratton I went. The scenic drive continues. Route 16 connected with Rt 27 and I entered Carrabassett Valley. I passed Sugarloaf Mountain, a well known Ski Area, finally reaching the picnic/rest area in Kingfield.

Take a break, Stay awake, have a picnic

gray squirrelI have to say that rest areas in Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire are pretty top notch. This was a lovely picnic area that even had rest rooms. It’s  located right on the river and it was very clean. Some of the picnic tables had roofs over them to keep you dry if it should rain.  There were charcoal fire places for grilling.  This is where I added another varmint to my animal list, a grey squirrel. He didn’t stick around when I parked but I spotted him anyway.

Scenic Picnic area at the Kingfeild rest area

On the road again

Back on the road again I was looking for a sign  to a scenic overlook called Ira Mountain. According to my directions the road would be narrow but the view worth it. I never saw the sign for the overlook but I saw a sign that read, “Iron Bridge”. I bet it was near there.

The Wire Bridge  The Wire Bridge in New Portland Maine on my Scenic Drive

Having concluded that I’d missed that turn off, I was determined not to miss any more. The next item on the scenic drive list was Wire Bridge. I wasn’t sure what that was but I was not going to miss it. Entering New Portland I kept a close eye out for signs and there they were. I followed each turn exactly and then the bridge was in front of me. What a fascinating bridge! While I took pictures a car crossed it. I watched as the wire supports bounced and the bed of the bridge swayed. I had to walk across it. Then, of course, I had to drive across it. Once across the bridge I could park and walk down to the river. That gave me another perspective.

The Scenic Wire Bridge in New Portland

Now Where?

One problem with my scenic road directions is that they got me to the Wire Bridge but then they got kind of vague. Do I turn around and go back? Do I continue on this road? It turned into a dirt road on the far side of the bridge. The directions said to take Rt 234 back to Rt 4. But I haven’t seen any signs for RT 234 at all, what to do? What to do? This is Maine, not Massachusetts. I could drive for hours if I make the wrong choice!

Guess What Day it is

Guess What Day it is

hump day camel

Guess what day it is? Yup, it’s hump day, Wednesday, the middle of the week. My vacation is half over! I didn’t want to get out of bed. I didn’t want to think about the number of miles I’d logged looking for a stupid moose. It was time to get up and try again but oh my, I didn’t want to. It’s my vacation, roll over and go back to sleep.

A Scenic Drive is just what I need

I managed to laze around until 7:30 am when I gave in and packed up for another drive. This time I was going on a Scenic Drive. I was not looking for moose or any other kind of wildlife. This was going to be a relaxing 2 hour drive with maybe a stop to see a waterfall. The sun was shining and it was kind of cool so I tossed my hoodie in the car just in case.

Scenic Drive number 2Mama Duck and baby ducklings

On my handout from the resort I had 4 scenic drives. I did half of scenic drive #1 but ran into road construction before I could complete the 2nd half. Today I’d give #2 a try. The first step was to find Route 16 East. I had a good idea where Rt 16 was but I wasn’t sure if it was east or west. Remember , I am not looking for wildlife. With no expectation  I was pleasantly surprised that just as I saw the 16 east sign I also saw a duck. I pulled over and walked back with the camera. As I got closer the grass and weeds around the duck began to move and 4 baby ducklings emerged running to Mom. I stopped in my tracks. They were so cute but I didn’t want to scare them away so I took my pictures from where I stood and then backed away.

Route 16 East to Stratton

Maine Moose by the side of the roadBack on the road I headed down Route 16. I was the only car on the road this early so I poked along mentally ticking off what animals I’d seen most of so far…black flies, black flies, black flies. Ok so maybe a chipmunk or two, lots of crows (ravens?), 1 bat, that cute little fox kit and now the ducks. Just as I ticked them off I saw a moose. Yes, really! She was standing in a small field next to the road. I pulled over as carefully as I could. Mindful of the warning not to leave car doors open, I tried to slide out slowly so I could get the camera out of the car.

The Moose and IA Moose heading for the trees

The moose watched me carefully, ears twitching forward and back but she didn’t run away. I snapped a couple of pictures and tried to move a little closer. She took a couple of steps away then stopped. I stepped another couple of steps forward. She move a little too. We had quite the little dance going here. I’d move , she’d move. But like Cinderella at Midnight, the approach of an 18 wheeler sent Ms Moose heading for the trees. For such a big gangly creature she sure could move. I guess the universe rewarded me for my persistence even when I didn’t want to go driving around.

 

 

On the Road to Angel Falls

On the Road to Angel Falls

angel Falls maineMy handout from the Chamber of Commerce describes Angel Falls as one of Maine’s tallest Waterfalls. It claims to be 90 ft. We saw Bash Bish Falls at 60-80 feet and that was pretty impressive. Time to top that one with a 90 ft drop. The directions were pretty specific. “Turn right on to a unnamed gravel road (adjacent to a large open field)” Now that’s pretty clear don’t you think? believe it or not, I found it!

Cross the Swift River

This was starting to look like a real adventure. One of the reason I got an SUV was to be One Lane Bridge over the Swift River, Maineable to navigate the back roads of the places I wanted to visit, like Maine, New Hampshire and Duxbury Beach. (that’s another story). I turned onto an unnamed gravel road next to a large open field and there was a one lane bridge over the Swift River. This matched my directions perfectly. That bridge look pretty questionable but I tried it anyway.

Bemis Road

Bemis Rd, Maine, A dirt Road with RutsMy directions then told me to take a right on Bemis Road. That’s a little confusing because there is no right and I thought I was on Bemis Road when I went over the bridge. No worries, I’ll just keep going a little farther and see where it takes me. After passing a cute little house surrounded by lilac bushes the road made a sharp right. A hand lettered sign said “Gate Closed” 1 mile.  I continued on. The road was bumpy, rutted and filled with pot holes. The deepest holes had sticks standing upright in them as a warning, or so I assume. A friendly Maine driver waved at me so I pulled over. He assured me I was headed in the right direction and told me to ignore the “private” signs and “no trespassing”! he said it was beautiful out there and I might even see a moose.

Angel Falls to the Left

I bumped along what seemed like forever. I kept reminding myself this was why I have an Road to Angel Falls, MaineSUV as we lurched over another set of ruts.  Finally, as I passed a car parked on the shoulder, I saw a sign with an arrow, Angel Falls. It pointed left but as I gazed at the dirt road down the hill my stomach almost flipped. I felt like I was at the top of a roller coaster about to start down! Yikes! I don’t do roller coasters!