Jamestown Historical Society

Library Exhibit, June 2019 Celebrate the 50 th Anniversary of the Newport-Pell Bridge

New Library Exhibit:  June, 2019

The Jamestown Historical Society, working with the Newport Pell Bridge 50 th anniversary committee, has mounted two exhibits in the Jamestown Philomenian Library to celebrate the 50 th anniversary of the Newport-Pell Bridge.

The exhibit in the JHS display case in the foyer of the library features bridge memorabilia from the society’s collection and material on loan from Manuel Neronha Jr, the first manager of toll collectors on the bridge. Bridge tokens, which were used to pay the bridge toll before the introduction of
EZ-Pass in January 2009, include the original aluminum tokens, which were used only for a short time because they were so light that the wind blew them around, and specialty tokens color-coded to indicate the purpose of the trip: yellow for general maintenance, blue for state police, green for electrician, and red for the armored car.

Among the souvenirs of the opening of the bridge is an invitation from Governor Frank Licht and Chairman Francis G. Dwyer to the opening ceremonies on June 28, 1969. A six-foot model of the bridge, loaned to the library by the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority, stands in close proximity to the JHS display case.

In the meeting room, two large trailblazer signs, one for the Newport Bridge and one for the Pell Bridge, frame four panels tracing the history of the bridge from the planning stages through the effects of the bridge on Jamestown. The Pell Bridge sign is of a design that was never publicly used. The background was deemed too light for easy reading.

A map on the first panel shows the various routes proposed for the bridge with an overview of the ups and downs of bridge acceptance from Governor T. F. Green’s request for drawings and cost estimates in 1935 to the opening of the bridge 34 years later. The building of the bridge is told in photographs. Graphs on the final panel trace the growth in population and housing starts in Jamestown over the past 50 years.

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