Opening of the Great Hampton River Bridge

Exeter News-Letter

Friday, May 16, 1902 -- Vol. LXXII -- No. 20

Grand Opening of the Mile Bridge
Grand Opening of the "Mile-long" Bridge at Hampton Beach

With interesting exercises, in the presence of Gov. Chester B. Jordan, members of his council and staff, men of prominence from every section of the state and of multitudes from the cities and town served by the Exeter, Hampton and Amesbury street railway system, the mammoth bridge which crosses the very mouth of Hampton river was formally opened Wednesday afternoon. The building of the bridge has been a work of real magnitude, and its opening was an event of no little importance.

At noon, Governor Jordan and a company of more than 200, representative of the official, political and business life of New Hampshire and northeastern Massachusetts, were royally entertained at Hotel Whittier in Hampton by Mr. Wallace D. Lovell, head of the syndicate which built the bridge and whose resourceful mind conceived it.

The governor, his personal party and many of the company arrived in Exeter in mid forenoon, and at half past ten were conveyed to the Whittier by a train of four special electrics. Many of the invited guests awaited their coming, and the noon trains on the eastern division and following electrics brought many accessions to the company. It included, beside the governor, Councillors Tennant, Truesdell and Bodwell, Generals Waldron and Graves and Colonels Pitman, Quimby, Emmons and Patten, of his staff, Judge Bingham, Attorney General Eastman, Hon. Nahum J. Batchelder, Hon. John McLane, President Murkland, of the New Hampshire College, Ex-Congressman Daniell, Henry M. Putney, chairman of the railroad commission, county officials, the selectmen of many towns of New Hampshire and Massachusetts, the mayors of many cities, and many men of note.

In the reception of his guests Mr. Lovell, the ideal host, was ably assisted by Col. R. N. Elwell, who had general direction of the entertainment. The exterior of the Whittier was decked with flags, and Proprietor Whittier and his associates looked carefully to the comfort of the company. Orchestral music had been provided. At noon the company repaired to the handsome dining room, decorated with flags and flowers, where an excellent dinner was admirably served. This was its menu.

Escalloped Oysters
Cucumbers     Radishes
Cold Roast Turkey
Sliced Ham
Lettuce      Tongue      Celery
Lobster Salad      Chicken Salad
Parker House Rolls
Halaquin Ices
Fancy Cakes
Crackers     Cheese

Meanwhile, cars after cars on all divisions, running to the bridge on either side, were bringing many eager spectators, in all upwards of 2000. In the early afternoon, a concert was well given on the bridge by the Exeter brass band.

Soon after dinner the governor and the entire company of Mr. Lovell's guests boarded three special electrics, and on arrival at the bridge a genuine ovation greeted the governor.

Promptly at 2:45 the first car to cross the bridge began its passage, with Governor Jordan as motorman. Superintendent Hayden, of the Exeter, Hampton and Amesbury, was at his side to instruct him, and directly behind stood Mr. Lovell.

Slowly proceeding for nearly the length of the bridge, the car was stopped by the great and cheering assemblage. Governor Jordan gave two blasts of its whistle and the bridge was officially declared open.

On the bridge had been built a platform and seats for the invited guests, gaily decked with flags and the national colors. Here Governor Jordan was presented to the assembly by Hon. Warren Brown, president of the Exeter, Hampton and Amesbury company, and responded in the happiest of addresses.

His excellency was in his wittiest vein, and his frequent sallies convinced his hearers. In the whirligig of time and through the favoritism of his friends, he said, he had been elected the chief executive of the state, but he had nearly run his coarse. Upon whom the mantle would fall next he could not say. There were eight or ten present who were trying to get into it, but while "many are called, but few are chosen." He emphasized the immensity of the bridge and the difficulty of its construction, and paid merited tribute to Mr. Lovell and Engineer Hood. It was meet that men of Massachusetts, for whom New Hampshire had done so much, should devote ability and capital to the enhancement of the charms of New Hampshire.

Governor Jordan was followed in turn by Henry M. Putney of Manchester, chairman of the railroad commissioners; Col. John C. Linehan, of Concord, insurance commissioner; President Murkland; Hon. N. J. Batchelder, of Andover, master of the state grange, and Hon. John McLane of Milford, each of whom made short remarks of congratulation to the state and the company.

An evening convert by the band and a ball at the Casino pleasantly closed the notable day.

The accompanying illustration will give those of our readers who have not seen it some conception of the immensity of the bridge. It has been a year in building at a cost of about $100,000. Coles, Childs & Ruggles, of Boston, were the contractors. The bridge rests on 3,380 oak piles is 4,621 feet in length and 30 feet wide. Its construction has revolutionized the Rivermouth, of which Whittier sang, and means much for the development of the beaches of Hampton and Seabrook.

Regular traffic over the bridge began yesterday, cars running in half hourly trains between Amesbury and the Casino. The first car left Amesbury at 6 A.M. It will be a toll bridge, and houses for the collectors will soon be built at either end.

Read more about the Mile Bridge