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Old Bridge Moved, Turned into Museum

Friday, September 7, 2018

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The heart of Sunset Beach, North Carolina, used to beat to the sound of cars crossing an old single-lane drawbridge. A modern high-rise span has taken its place, but local residents have preserved the past by moving the old bridge so it can be enjoyed by future generations.

According to Fox 8, the old bridge, which sits in the shadow of the new span, was moved and turned into a museum.

Bridge to the Past

Mannon Gore, a local resident who purchased Bald Island for $55,000 in 1955, is often credited with laying the foundation for what would later become the cozy seaside community. His purchase also included 400 acres of mainland from International Paper Co. Gore’s move arrived on the heels of his severing business ties with Odell Williamson, founder of Ocean Isle Beach, in 1954. In 1957, he dredged the channel and began construction on the bridge.

To help cars cross the Intracoastal Waterway while leaving the channel open, Gore devised a plan to float a bridge on a pivot, using cables to open and close the bridge for marine traffic. Prior to the bridge being built, the only ways to access Sunset Beach was by boat or airplane. Gore operated the bridge for three years before the state took control in 1963.

"The first bridge was a WWII surplus barge and he managed the bridge from his house right on the water," said Ann Bokelman, with The Old Bridge Preservation Society, going on to note that “[Gore] would either listen for the cars to honk or at night they would flash their lights and sometimes he'd go out in his bathrobe to operate it."

"These boards are incredibly thick, not smooth, and so when cars would go over them they wold go cathunk, cathunk, cathunk," Bokelman told FOX 8. "We'd say, 'Listen to that, that's the heart of Sunset Beach."

With the bridge preserved for the enjoyment of future generations, its successor stands as a high-rise, $31 million concrete bridge that opened in 2010.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Historic Preservation; Historic Structures; Infrastructure

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