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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Bridges to Long Beach Island

Anyone driving around the Bass River area in the last couple of years can't help remembering the construction of new bridges on Rt 9 at the Bass River and Nakote Creek and the just completed Garden State Parkway bridge spanning the Mullica River.

Now there is talk of adding another bridge, parallel to the existing bridge, from the mainland in Manahawkin to Long Beach Island. I shudder to think of the massive traffic jams that will cause, especially in the summer months.

A new bridge will be the fourth built to Long Beach Island. I thought I would share a view photos of previous bridges and a video of the current bridge.

I wonder if there is anyone out in the Blog-O-Sphere that remembers crossing over the previous bridges, perhaps on a summer vacation as a child. If so, I would like to hear from you.

Pete S

The first bridge to Long Beach Island.

Before 1886, there was only one way to reach Long Beach Island - boat. Many of the visitors to the island were wealthy enough to own their own boats. Some of the larger boarding houses offered ferry service to and from the island. A formal, scheduled ferry line was created in 1873. Builder Archelaus R. Pharo, from Tuckerton, started the ferry service in order to bring construction materials to the newly founded community of Beach Haven.

The two mile bridge postcard

A newer drawbridge in a 1954 photo

Courtesy of Leslie & Shirley Whealton

The current LBI causeway bridge was built in 1958.

It carries about 42,000 cars a day in the summer.

Courtesy of Google Images

Entering Long Beach Island today.

The following is a You Tube video of the old shack that my history buddy, John Yates, remembers seeing along the causeway bridge as a child during trips to Long Beach Island with his parents. Thanks, John, for bringing it to my attention.


  1. I don't have any real recollection of the early 1950s bridge, but I was probably over it with my parents.

    In the video I believe I spotted the falling down shack on the meadows. I do remember seeing that over the years. I think I saw in the newspaper that someone has purchased it and will be restoring it.

    Are there pictures of that shack over the years?

    John Yates

  2. Your bridge pictures bring back many memories for me. My grandfather had a house on the West side of Cedar Bonnet Island from the late 1930’s until they started construction of the current bridge in the 1950’s. It was only a few houses from the bridge and I can recall laying in bed at night an hearing the clank, clank of the boards as the cars and trucks traveled to and from the island.

    He had a long pier extending out into the bay and there was usually very good fishing right from the end of his dock. In those days many of the modest cottages had names posted on them by the owner… My grandfather named his place “Dew Drop Inn”. During the early years water came from a well and there was a sturdy outhouse just behind the cottage.

    Unfortunately, when work on the current bridge was started it all came to an end since the new bridge was going straight through his house and the State condemned the property.

    I should also mention, the main channel was much closer to LBI at that time and the drawbridge was right by Cedar Bonnet. However, for some reason when the current bridge was constructed the engineers found it necessary to relocate the main channel much closer to the mainland. This, of course, required quite a bit of dredging in addition to the bridge building.

    In my mind, it was a much nicer LBI back then!

    Dick Ireton

    1. My grandfather and father were members of a fishing club (The Bayside Club) that had a house on the east edge of Cedar Bonnet Island, overlooking the channel. I believe the channel was moved so that boats could pass under the newer, higher span making a drawbridge unecessary. I can recall the largest bridge being completed and then construction beginning on the bridge that replaced the drawbridge. 50 years later, I still feel that the island was never the same after tehy removed the old causeway. I can't imagine what it will look like with a twin span where the original causeway was.