The Sakonnet River Rail Bridge was built in 1899 at a narrow part of the river between Portsmouth and TIverton. Like so many other Portsmouth bridges, it was contructed privately, this time by the Pennsylvania Steel Company.
It was a "swing" bridge with part of the bridge staying anchored and the other part swinging back to allow boats to pass through.
The bridge was closed in 1980 when it was damaged by a heavy train load. A barge ran into the open bridge in 1988 and it was removed in 2006 with the remains cleared by an explosion in 2007.
The Portsmouth Historical Society has a circular piece of bridge in the Old Town Hall. We have an album of photos taken by Aaron Usher in the 1990s before the bridge was removed. Among the images was an original diagram of the bridge and we think we have located our piece of the bridge from the diagram. It may have been a gear to facilitate the swinging mechanism.
"On the Water" opens Memorial Day Sunday. The Museum of the Portsmouth Historical Society is open Sundays from 2 to 4 PM.