Sunday, June 24, 2012

Gold Star Memorial Bridge, New London-Groton, CT

The Gold Star Memorial Bridge crossing the Thames
Connecticut sure loves cribbing names from the mother country. London -- sorry, New London -- on the Thames? Though maybe they hadn't actually been to the original London at all, since our version of the Thames is pronounced the way it's spelled -- rhymes with games -- and not the English way, tems.

Once one of the major whaling ports in America, New London continues its maritime traditions to this day. It is the home to the US Coast Guard Academy and Global Dynamics' Electric Boat shipyard, where the US nuclear submarine fleet is built and maintained. Busy ferries carry passengers across Long Island Sound to Long Island, Fisher's Island and Block Island.

The Gold Star Memorial Bridge is a pair of steel deck truss bridges that carry I-95 over the Thames. The first bridge was constructed in 1943, and the second thirty years later. Together, they comprise the largest structure in the state of Connecticut, and by far, the longest bridge.

The bridge is just massive. See how it looms behind those warehouses. It absolutely dominates the river.

Amtrack's Thames River Bridge
Paralleling the Goldstar is the nearly as impressive Thames River Bridge, which carries Amtrak over the river. It consists of four truss spans (Wikipedia calls them Warren truss, but they look like Parker truss to me -- Warren truss bridges have no vertical members) and a lifting section in the middle -- the two towers are a dead giveaway.

Pratt truss railroad bridge
Just before the Thames River Bridge, on the New London Side, is this small truss bridge that crosses a N/S set of tracks. Completely overshadowed by the Goldstar and the Thames River Bridge. Sitting there lonely and rusting.

New London is definitely worth a visit on its own merits; there's lots of remnants of its historic past, its roles in the Revolutionary War and its aftermath. It is one of the earlier settlements in New England. Forts guard the mouth of the Thames. There's even an old sailing ship moored in the harbor.

There's no special place to park for the bridge. It's huge. You'll see it. However, if you're looking for a distinctive place to visit whilst admiring the bridge, why not stop by the Old Town Mill?

Old Town Mill
This mill, built in 1650 by the town of New London's founder, John Winthrop Jr, stands today after having been rebuilt several times in its 350+ year history, including most notably after being torched by the traitorous Benedict Arnold during the British invasion of New London in 1781.

It is literally in the shadow of the bridge.


  1. Fantastic! I want to make a trip out there, perhaps in the fall.

  2. LOL I would not recommend visiting the Old Mill as it is at then beginning of The Crystal Ave Projects, ie gang bangers, drug dealers, hookers and addicts. Unless they closed them down which I doubt oh and across the way is State Pier projects, both places I don't suggest common tourists go without someone who knows the area.

  3. Well, I did walk around in that park. It was early, didn't see anyone, but I did see the projects.

  4. I was recently informed from a state trooper that the bridge is unsafe. It has become a very unfortunate secret.

  5. Really? HUGELY busy bridge like that? Wow.