The Penobscot Narrows Bridge sneaks up on you. Driving north, or south on US 1, a two-lane highway through remote coastal Maine, you round a curve and encounter this beautiful, elegant bridge. I had driven this road several times before I realized the bridge has an observatory in one of the towers. It’s reputed to be the highest bridge observatory in the world rising 420 feet above the ground. You purchase tickets just down the road at the entrance to Fort Knox park. Driving home from a trip to Bar Harbor this spring we decided to stop and I took the ride up to the observatory.
When you step into the elevator and the doors close you might notice a simple typed page letting you know that usually the elevator works. It only balked 13 times in 2014 and only 3 times did the people at the observation level descend the 25 stories to the highway via stairs. The odds are in your favor for a two-way trip on the elevator!
When you step off the elevator there is a floor to ceiling window directly in front of you that could be startling if you’re prone to vertigo but you turn right and climb two more flights of stairs to reach the observation room. There are placards identifying landmarks and history. You can see the Atlantic Ocean, of course the nearby town of Bucksport and on a clear day you can see all the way to Cadillac Mountain in Acadia Park.
History and landscape aside it’s really cool to be up so high and to be able to get some sense of that height. I think the picture looking down at our car from the observation deck captures some of the feeling.