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Bethlehem bridges looking down river
40 36' 85 N
75 24' 53 W

The need for a bridge connecting Bethlehem to the passage to Philadelphia was realized in the late eighteenth century. The ferry was no longer able to accommodate the great numbers of people and goods that traveled across the river.

In 1794, the first bridge was built across the river. It was a one-lane bridge constructed from hemlock and stone piers and was completly exposed to the elements. A toll was collected on the south side. Flooding destroyed the first bridge and in 1816 a second hemlock and stone pier bridge was built. Another flood destroyed the second bridge and in 1841, a larger, two-lane bridge was built. The third bridge was 400 feet long and had a slate roof. It stood 23 feet above the river’s low water mark to avoid flooding. The railroad consumed the south bank of the river in 1852 and interfered with bridge traffic. In order to avoid the many accidents between the trains and bridge traffic, designs are proposed to build a hill to hill bridge to take traffic away from the railroad. In 1920, demolition of the covered bridge began and construction for the new hill to hill bridge commenced. In 1924, the bridge was opened to the public. It is 6,500 feet long and carries two lanes of traffic in either direction.

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