The Story Behind How Portland, Maine’s Tukey’s Bridge Got Its Name
Most anyone who has driven into or through Portland on I-295 has crossed over Tukey's Bridge. Today's version of the bridge opened in 1960 and has carried traffic over Portland's Back Cove for over 60 years.
But have you ever wondered just how the bridge got the name "Tukey?"
The Maine DOT posted a Throwback Thursday photo on their Facebook page showing construction on Tukey's Bridge in 1959 along with some history that dates back over 200 years.
The very first bridge that crossed over Back Cove was opened in 1796, just twenty years after America declared its independence from Great Britain. It was a 650-foot wooden draw bridge that would open to let ships into Back Cove in the days when that was commonplace. Today it's a rare sight to see any boats in Back Cove.
It was also a toll bridge until 1837, and one of the first toll takers was a man by the name of Lemuel Tukey.
As people got to know Tukey as they crossed the bridge to pay their toll, they started to call the bridge "Tukey's Bridge." The name stuck through three iterations of the bridge: The original draw bridge from 1796 to 1898, a truss bridge from 1898 to 1959 and today's bridge which was completed in 1960. All of them bear the name "Tukey's Bridge," in honor of the very first toll taker on the very first bridge.
If Lemuel Tukey were able to see what has become of the bridge that bears his name, I'm sure he would be very impressed.