A History

The History of Duck Brook Motor Bridge, Paradise Hill Road According to the Report, Historic American Engineering Record, Duck Brook Bridge, Haer No. ME-30, Richard Quin, Historian, 1994

Duck Brook Motor Bridge spans Duck Brook on Paradise Rd, 1 mile SE of Hulls Cove Visitors Center, Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor Vicinity, Mount Desert Island, Hancock County, Maine. The Engineers on the project were T.W.Harris, Wayne Franham, George O’Neil, Bureau of Public Roads.

 

The contractors were M & M Construction Company which was Harold McQuinn, Construction of  Hulls Cove, and W Robison Martin of Mancester, Vermont. John D Rockefeller discussed this bridge with his engineer, Paul D. Simpson, as early as 1934.  In 1936, Rockefeller informed Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes that he would be willing to donate the necessary land to construct this link , which would allow motorists to enter the park without having to pass through Bar Harbor. The government provided $209,945.00 for the road under the supervision of The Public Roads Administration in Dec 1940. The road was completed 8 months later.

Funds for Duck Brook Bridge were not available. Rockefeller felt a single span bridge was preferable to the other suggested options and urged Public Roads Administration Assistant Highway Engineer Leo Grossman to plan for the lower crossing. Rockefeller wanted a stone-faced bridge constructed, consistent with the design of earlier park motor road and carriage road bridges.

Although the Paradise Hill Road was completed in 1940, funds for the bridge had not been released. Rockefeller worked for the release of the funds for the bridge, because he realized that the World War was looming and might cause a delay for the project. In June 1941, Rockefeller wrote his friend, Horace M. Albright, former Director of the National Park Service, thanking him for so persistently keeping at the matter of completion of the plans for the bridge, adding that without his support he feared the plans would never be finished. He hoped the bridge could be finished for the summer.

 

The outbreak of World War II severely delayed the bridge project, due to war time shortages of steel, equipment being transferred to the military, park and federal road building personnel entering the service, and tourist travel decreasing due to gasoline and tire rationing. After the war the project was delayed due to the Parks Systems severely restricted budget.

 

Work finally got underway in 1950. The M & M Construction Company was the lower bidder.  The Bureau of Public Roads classified the project as Acadia National Park Project 10A4.  Three BPR Engineers served on the project; T.W.Harris began the work, and was followed by Wayne Franham, then George O’Neil.  The project office was located in the ravine below the bridge’s northeast side.

Photograph’s taken during construction give some indication of the order of the work. The piers and abutments were constructed, then the arch voussoirs and barres were erected on timber formwork. The concrete for the arches was poured next, and then the stone facing was brought up to grade level.  

 

To support the arches, the Timber Structure Company of New York shipped knock-down prefabricated wooden trusses from Portland, Oregon.  The trusses were erected at the site on a boom and crane.  The trusses were placed in pairs without the use of a traditional centering stick.  Due to the massive size of the arches, the wooden framework had to support up to 800 tons.

 

A construction railway, called the M&M Railroad was employed to carry 16 foot hoppers, which carried the concrete to the arch barrels.  The pink granite face stone was obtained from Halls Quarry, 3 miles south of Somesville, ME. The stone was cut from templates at the site and placed on the structure as indicated on the architectural plans.

 

The project entailed some 92,000 hours of worker’s time, and as many as 75 men were on the job at the same time.  Total cost of the structure was $366,000, making it the most expensive road related structure in the park at the time of its completion.

 

On October 8, 1952, the last 600 pound block of granite was lifted into place.  Following the completion of the bridge, the Paradise Hill Rd opened in July, 1953.

 

The Bridge remains in active use and is the largest continuous arch bridge east of the Mississippi River.