History Bytes: Tiverton Stone Bridge

June 28, 2019

Rhode-Island Bridge Company share certificate, 1794. NHS, Box 49 Folder 13.

This week marks the 50th anniversary of the Newport Pell Bridge, one of New England’s most iconic landmarks. It replaced a ferry system that operated across Narragansett Bay since 1676.

Another engineering marvel of the past, the old Tiverton Stone Bridge was completed in 1795 and replaced the Howland Ferry, in operation since 1640. Constructed by shareholders of The Rhode Island Bridge Company and designed by Zenas Whiting of Norwich, Connecticut, the 900 foot bridge of stone and timber introduced easy access between Portsmouth and Tiverton. The Newport Mercury of 20 October 1795 felt “a peculiar pleasure” in announcing the completion of the bridge, which connected “the island with the continent at Tiverton… a noble specimen of bridge architecture uniting elegance with strength…”

Sadly, the Tiverton Stone Bridge was washed out or damaged at least a dozen times until it was finally replaced by the new Route 24 span in 1957.

Stone bridge toll rates. NHS, Box 49 Folder 13.