History of the Lewes Canal Swing Bridge

Built by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1916, the Swing Bridge that spanned the Lewes & Rehoboth Canal faithfully served the Lewes and Sussex County communities for over 100 years. For decades it was a gateway for Lewes rail transport that opened the way for growth, provided new economic opportunities and stimulated progress.

The bridge supported the Menhaden fish industry when Lewes Beach was lined with fish factories. It was a major reason why the US Military placed Fort Miles in this area; without Fort Miles, would Cape Henlopen State Park be here today?

The bridge is a manually operated Bobtail Swing Bridge, a historical 97 ft. mechanical marvel, one of only a few of its type remaining in the US. Many local residents have shared their memories of fishing near the bridge, jumping into the canal from the bridge, and maybe stealing a first kiss in the shadows of the bridge.

In 2017, DelDOT and the Army Corps of Engineers determined that the bridge had to be repaired or moved from its current location due to deterioration of one of the abutments supporting the bridge. Shortly thereafter, DelDOT determined that repairs to the abutment would be too costly and the line from Lewes to Cool Spring was abandoned. In February 2022, the bridge was moved to a new display location at the end of American Legion Road, next to the Junction and Breakwater Trail, where it is easily seen by bikers and walkers.

The Junction and Breakwater bike trail runs along the former railroad right-of-way from Cool Springs to Cape Henlopen State Park. “Junction and Breakwater” was the name of the first railroad to reach Lewes, in 1869.

Please stop by the bridge to see what 1916 technology looks like. And to learn more about this mechanical marvel.

The bridge in service in 2015
The bridge on display at the end of American Legion Road.