WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — This Throwback Thursday we’re looking back on the bridge that so many of us in this area use each and every day. The Cape Fear Memorial Bridge opened on October 1, 1969.
In the early part of the 1900’s, residents used ferries to cross the Cape Fear River. That changed in 1929 when the Twin Bridges opened to great fanfare. The bridges spanned the Northeast and Northwest branches of the Cape Fear, taking people across the river at the Northern end of town near where the Isabel Stelling Holmes Bridge is today. When the bridges first opened, travelers paid a toll, which went to offset the costs of the bridges. When the bonds were paid off, the toll booths were removed.
The opening ceremonies were a “splendid celebration” – there was music, fireworks, decorations, and receptions. Since alcohol was officially barred during Prohibition, two local women broke champagne bottles filled with river water over the bridges to christen them.
A total of four ribbons were cut during the ceremony, one at each end of each bridge. They were all cut by North Carolina Governor O. Max Gardner’s wife Faye Webb Gardner.
The Wilmington Morning Star claimed that the town hosted “the largest delegation of distinguished leaders in public life in Wilmington than on any occasion since the visit of President Taft in 1909” and declared that the bridges were “Wilmington’s major achievement of the century.”
Then in 1969 the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge was opened. The Twin Bridges closed in the late 1970’s. The Northeast Cape Fear River Bridge was eventually replaced with what is now the Isabel S. Holmes Bridge.
The Cape Fear Memorial Bridge is currently the highest bridge in North Carolina and is maintained by the NCDOT.
**Special thanks to the Cape Fear Museum.**