Mt. Hope Bridge Turns 90 Years Old

By: Tim Studebaker

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BRISTOL, R.I. (WLNE) – These days, drivers have three different ways to get on and off Aquidneck Island: the Sakonnet River Bridge from Tiverton; the Pell Bridge from Jamestown; and the very first on the scene, the Mount Hope Bridge from Bristol which opened 90 years ago Thursday.

Kevin Jordan is a retired professor at Roger Williams University.  He serves on the Bristol Historical Society board, where a display takes visitors back to the old days.

Jordan says, “Bristol was the end of the line.  You drove to Bristol, and you could get a boat, you could get a ferry, but you couldn’t go beyond here.”

The toll bridge was actually privately owned at first, turning a profit for its owners.

Jordan says, “…owned by the Haffenreffer family, who owned Mt. Hope Farm, and Haffenreffer Beer, which all the old Rhode Islanders would remember.”

The state took over the bridge in the 1950s, and drivers had the option to pay a 30 cent toll, or they could save some money by buying those familiar tokens for 10 cents.

In the 1980s, Jordan and others got their own taste of pre–bridge days when it closed for repairs.

Jordan says, “I used to take out 103 over to Fall River to 24, and down 24 over the Sakonnet Bridge.”

Jordan says that added a half hour or more to the trip from Bristol to Newport.

In the 1990s the bridge tolls were dropped.

Now, it’s getting some special attention for its birthday.  It’ll be lit up with red, white, and blue lights tonight through this weekend.

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