The construction of the new bridge over the Sakonnet River has inspired the Curator's Committee of the Portsmouth Historical Society to research and display items from Portsmouth's history "On the Water."
The Curator's Committee is still hard at work in arranging exhibits that will go on display in the Historical Society Museum beginning Memorial Day Sunday. These posts will highlight some of the images and items on display and give you the historical background.
The spot where the new bridge is being built has a history of being the link between Aquidneck Island and the mainland. In colonial times the main roads in Portsmouth led to the ferry landings. What we call East Main Road was known as the Path to Howland's Ferry. Its location was close to where the remains of Stone Bridge are today. This location is one of the narrowest points on the Sakonnet River between Tiverton and Portsmouth.
The ferry may date back to 1640. It was also known as Anthony's Ferry and Pocasset Ferry. Howland's Ferry played an important part during the Battle of Rhode Island. American forces used the location to pour onto Aquidneck Island to fight the British who occupied the island. When they were forced to retreat, many of the American forces used that route to make their escape. Howland Ferry was less used once the Bristol Ferry was established.