INDIAN RIVER INLET
AND IT;S BRIDGES
FROM THE COLLECTION OF MICHAEL MORGAN
DELAWAER COAST PRESS / DELAWARE DIARY
Early on, before the mid 1930's, the inlet to the inland bays of Indian River Hundred and the Atlantic Ocean could never make up it's mind just where it wanted to be and worked it's way up and down the coast between Rehoboth to what is now Bethany Beach, once Cotton Patch Hill. These inlets would open during a storm, then fill in with sand and become useless or just disappear. When the inlet silted shut the coastal bays would stagnate and the bays waters became worthless, no sea life at all could live with the stinking green algae. Sometime about 1920 former Governor John Gillis Townsend was given the task to reopen the inlet. He had a dredge remove considerable sand and then placed 2000 or more pounds of Hurcules black powder to open the barrier. The explosion lifted sand high into the air, opening a 6 foot deep, 60 foot wide channel, that then fell right back where it had come from, the inlet lasting only a very short period. It took federal funds in the early 1930's to dig an inlet with stabilized sides and become a permanent fixture along the Delaware coast, however, the waterway was not yet tamed. Wind blown sand and storm driven wash overs proved to be disastrous. A coastal highway was being constructed between Rehoboth and Betheny Beach in 1933 and the first bridge over the Indian River Inlet was built in 1934. It was a fixed timber bridge, lasting only four years, and named for the then chairman of Delaware State Highway's, Charles W. Cullen, a lawyer and judge of Georgetown. The 1938 bridge replacement was of steel and concrete and was a swing bridge to allow vessels to enter and exit the bay. Heavy ice flow and extra high tides destroyed the second bridge in 1948 with loss of lives. The third bridge was of steel and concrete and was also a swing bridge opened in 1952, replaced in 1965 by a fourth bridge which was a high rise type construction but done in by scoured foundations. To date, no bridge over the Indian River Inlet has reached it's 14th year birthday and will the inlet have more to say of the fifth elaborate and costly high rise structure now in place?