Thousand Islands Bridge

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An 8.5 mile bridge system over the Saint Lawrence River connects norther New York with southeastern Ontario (Canada). The bridge was constructed in 1937, and was completed in just 16 months.

Thousand Islands Bridge

A view of the Thousand Islands Bridge system from the Canadian side (just before the border crossing). Credit: Ad Meskens

Dedicated on August 18, 1938, the bridge system plays a major role in history at an international border. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Mackenzie King opened the bridges in front of more than 25,000 people.

The system got its name from the Thousand Islands region, which boasts more than 1800 natural islands (ranging from several feet to 40 square miles). The system is a set of five bridges that span the river, with the southern end connecting with Interstate 81, and the northern end to Highways 401 and 137.

Even by today’s standards, the system was built very quickly, and it was completed 10 weeks under schedule. The total cost was $3,050,000 (over $45 million in today’s dollars). Traffic in the early years: about 150,000 crossings per year. By 1960 about 746,000 vehicles crossed each year. By 1970 nearly 1.3 million vehicles crossed in a single year, and today an estimated 2,000,000 cars and trucks cross the bridge annually.


Last updated: Aug 18, 2012
Filed under: Retro Memories Tagged with: roads, travel