Remembering the Waldo-Hancock Bridge

Posted April 16, 2013, at 5:39 a.m.
A worker uses cutting torches to dismantle a section the Waldo-Hancock Bridge.
A worker uses cutting torches to dismantle a section the Waldo-Hancock Bridge. Buy Photo
Workers use cutting torches to dismantle the Waldo-Hancock Bridge. Small sections are being cut out and lowered by a crane.
Workers use cutting torches to dismantle the Waldo-Hancock Bridge. Small sections are being cut out and lowered by a crane. Buy Photo
An osprey takes flight after dropping sticks on a nest being built on the Waldo-Hancock Bridge between Verona Island and Prospect on Monday. The pair of birds seem oblivious to the work crew using cutting torches to dismantle the other side of the bridge
An osprey takes flight after dropping sticks on a nest being built on the Waldo-Hancock Bridge between Verona Island and Prospect on Monday. The pair of birds seem oblivious to the work crew using cutting torches to dismantle the other side of the bridge Buy Photo
Molten steel hits the waters of the Penobscot River as it drips off the Waldo-Hancock Bridge as workers use cutting torches to dismantle the bridge.
Molten steel hits the waters of the Penobscot River as it drips off the Waldo-Hancock Bridge as workers use cutting torches to dismantle the bridge. Buy Photo
A worker crawls back to his crew after watching a steel section of the Waldo-Hancock Bridge be lowered by a crane to the deck of a waiting barge as it floats on the Penobscot River.
Kevin Bennett | b
A worker crawls back to his crew after watching a steel section of the Waldo-Hancock Bridge be lowered by a crane to the deck of a waiting barge as it floats on the Penobscot River. Buy Photo
A worker unhooks cables from a section of steel after a crane lowered it to a barge from the Waldo-Hancock Bridge.
Kevin Bennett
A worker unhooks cables from a section of steel after a crane lowered it to a barge from the Waldo-Hancock Bridge. Buy Photo
Workers ride in a basket after spending the day severing sections of the Waldo-Hancock Bridge.
Workers ride in a basket after spending the day severing sections of the Waldo-Hancock Bridge. Buy Photo
Workers prepare to sever a section of the Waldo-Hancock Bridge, which spans the Penobscot River between Prospect and Verona Island.
Workers prepare to sever a section of the Waldo-Hancock Bridge, which spans the Penobscot River between Prospect and Verona Island. Buy Photo
&quotThis bridge, you know, it's been an icon all along," said Alan S. Grover of Monroe as he chats with MDOT engineer Phil Roberts on the Prospect end of the Waldo-Hancock Bridge. Grover recalled a toll booth on the bridge in the 1940s, when he and his family would make a trip to Corea.
"This bridge, you know, it's been an icon all along," said Alan S. Grover of Monroe as he chats with MDOT engineer Phil Roberts on the Prospect end of the Waldo-Hancock Bridge. Grover recalled a toll booth on the bridge in the 1940s, when he and his family would make a trip to Corea. Buy Photo
A worker uses a cutting torch to sever a section of the Waldo-Hancock Bridge before it is lowered by a crane to the deck of a waiting barge to be taken to Verona Island, where it will be cut up more and recycled
A worker uses a cutting torch to sever a section of the Waldo-Hancock Bridge before it is lowered by a crane to the deck of a waiting barge to be taken to Verona Island, where it will be cut up more and recycled Buy Photo
A safety boat intersects the shadows of the Waldo-Hancock Bridge as it plies the waters of the Penobscot River providing support for the demolition operation on the bridge above.
A safety boat intersects the shadows of the Waldo-Hancock Bridge as it plies the waters of the Penobscot River providing support for the demolition operation on the bridge above. Buy Photo
As the end of a workday approaches, a section of steel framework once part of the Waldo-Hancock Bridge is lowered to a waiting barge.
As the end of a workday approaches, a section of steel framework once part of the Waldo-Hancock Bridge is lowered to a waiting barge. Buy Photo
Workers scramble to remove cables from a deck section of the Waldo-Hancock Bridge
Workers scramble to remove cables from a deck section of the Waldo-Hancock Bridge Buy Photo
Workers use cutting torches to sever a section of the Waldo-Hancock Bridge before it is lowered by a crane to the deck of a waiting barge to be taken to Verona Island, where it will be cut up more and recycled.
Workers use cutting torches to sever a section of the Waldo-Hancock Bridge before it is lowered by a crane to the deck of a waiting barge to be taken to Verona Island, where it will be cut up more and recycled. Buy Photo
Concrete slabs that made up the road deck of the Waldo-Hancock Bridge sit in a pile awaiting a machine that will crush them into fill to be used at the new Penobscot Narrows Bridge site
Concrete slabs that made up the road deck of the Waldo-Hancock Bridge sit in a pile awaiting a machine that will crush them into fill to be used at the new Penobscot Narrows Bridge site Buy Photo

The first time I can recall crossing the Waldo-Hancock Bridge between Verona Island and Prospect as a child was on a trip to visit my grandparents in New Haven, Conn. The crossing was both amazing and terrifying for a young boy who had never seen or crossed such a span.

I wondered each time we made the trip if the bridge was safe. It seemed so narrow and, in my young mind, it seemed to sway a bit as my dad piloted the family van carrying five of us over it.

I came to recognize the bridge as a marking point on our trips, a gateway to a new adventure. And seeing the green metal structure as it loomed on the horizon coming up Route 1, returning to Mount Desert Island, it was a “welcome home” sign.

Alan S. Grover of Monroe also remembers the bridge as a highlight of his trips to Corea with family. He remembers the toll booth at the bridge, where 35 cents bought you passage across the 2,040-foot span of steel and concrete. Standing on the Prospect side talking with MDOT engineer Phil Roberts recently, Grover said he couldn’t see the need for a new bridge, thinking the old bridge was just fine.

Engineers in 2003 discovered corrosion in the cables hidden by the sheaths covering them. The damage had been done, the corrosion had reached a point of no return and a new bridge was needed.

Dec. 30, 2006, marked the opening of the new Penobscot Narrows Bridge, which led to the dismantling of the old Waldo-Hancock Bridge.

Delayed by a lack of funding, the demolition is now taking place. Workers are methodically removing sections and allowing the bridge to balance itself as it slowly is reduced to a pile of scrap metal and ground concrete.

When the dust has settled, the Waldo-Hancock Bridge will be just a memory. Young travelers mostly likely will marvel at the new Penobsot Narrows Bridge as they travel across. It will become the marking point for the start of many an adventure and the welcome sign to many returning home.

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