Cross Wellfleet’s Seven Magnificent Bridges

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WELLFLEET – I was sleeping on my keyboard when the latest “Pants Today” newsletter hit my inbox. The first story came from across the pond, and it was titled “My friend bought London Bridge pants. They kept falling off.”

After reading the rather shocking story, which involved a tourist, the House of Lords and a crossing in the hoosegow, I felt the need to defend the bridges. These miraculous creations take us into peril every day and do not deserve to be lumped together with a smear campaign.

I decided to pay tribute to all the bridges I could find in Wellfleet and assure them of my gratitude. The Curious Prius, also a huge fan of the wingspan, chirped happily as we headed toward destiny, and it turned out to be one hell of a treasure hunt. Here is what we found:

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The old bridge

(near Bound Brook Island Road, near Merrick Island) This is my favorite Wellfleet bridge, because it’s so old and crazy. It looks like a smaller version of those rickety bridges you see in Indiana Jones movies, the kind that crumble right after the heroes cross. It spans the River Herring and tiptoeing it takes courage and/or madness. Luckily I’m full of jerks and I made it through the other day.

Uncle Tim’s Bridge

(East Commercial Street) I say Uncle Tim’s is the most beautiful bridge in the world, far better than the somewhat cheesy, overdone Golden Gate and Brooklyn spans. From cavorting wedding parties to disgruntled loners (like me), Tim welcomes everyone, asks no questions and asks for no compensation, even though I thought about opening a summer toll booth for money from beer.

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Lieutenant Island Bridge

(Lieutenant Island Road) If you like drama at high tide, this bridge is for you. Rugged high tides often flood the island road on both sides of the bridge, leaving it stranded in the big blue. Sometimes the cars have to wait for the tide at the top of the bridge, risking ridicule and corrosion. Kids like to jump in the water in the summer and it’s not that high.

old railway bridge

(near Pamet Point Road) This is the scene of one of the greatest bicycle mysteries in the history of the world. In 1970, the wonderful Lisa Brown (now a teacher at Nauset Regional High School), received a super cool banana saddle bike for her 12th birthday. On a challenge, she tried to ride it over the old railway bridge that spans the River Herring. At the time, the bridge consisted of just a few wooden planks.

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A splashing catastrophe ensued. Lisa and the bike rushed into the river. “I dove in, trying to find the bike, couldn’t get the bike,” Lisa said in 2011, “Covered in stinky mud like a snapping turtle.”

The bike was missing for over 40 years, until Lisa’s wife, Deirdre, found it in the nearby woods while walking her dog. “I could tell immediately it was my bike,” Brown said. “It was like reuniting with a long-lost friend.”

Leonard A. Pierce, Father Memorial Bridge

(Long Pond Road, Wellfleet) This is Wellfleet’s most heroic bridge, not only because it carries you over the busy Route 6. According to a Wellfleet historical commission web entry: “Leonard A. Pierce was born in South Wellfleet in 1918. A pilot in the Air Force in the European theater during World War II, he was shot down twice. Each time he saved his crew. Returning to Wellfleet after the war, he served as a Selectman. He died in 1965 and was buried in South Wellfleet Cemetery. On February 13, 1998, the Selectmen voted to rename the Long Pond Bridge in his memory.

Silver Spring Trail Bridge

(Audubon Mass Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary🙂 I had a great time chatting with the people at the visitor center and it turns out there are two (!) bridges along the beautiful trails here. But the Goose Pond Trail was being redone to make it more accessible so I couldn’t visit that bridge.

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But I saw a Bobcat (a machine, not an animal) and headed down the Silver Spring Trail to a quiet wooden stretch that crossed a stream. I surprised a few ducks and they seemed crazy enough to flip the bird over to me. That’s what I call a good walk!

Chequessett Neck Dyke

(Chequessett Neck Road) OK, okay, a levee is not a bridge. But if the Herring River Tidal Restoration Project starts, more water will flow under the dike and perhaps it will look more like a bridge.

According to Friends of the Herring River website, the project’s goal “is to restore the more than 1,000-acre Herring River Estuary, once one of the most productive salt marsh systems in the Northeast, by gradually removing existing restrictions in the river to restore the natural flow of the tides”. You can get a good view of the area at the new and charming Herring River Overlook Conservation Land & Trail.

What do you want to know about Cape Cod? To ask a Curious Cape Cod question, email me at [email protected]. I’ll do my best to figure things out!