I thought my day was pretty much done when I left Miramichi. Highway 8 looked long and boring on the map, and I didn’t expect to find anything of interest. I was on my way to the hotel in Fredericton. Nothing to see along here, I thought. Then, I found the Nelson Hollow Covered Bridge. Okay, that was pretty cool, but that’s probably it. I’m done for the day.
Then, I saw a sign for a footbridge, pointing me down a side road. It was almost sunset time, I thought, so it wouldn’t hurt to check it out. Maybe I’d find a nice place to take a picture.
Instead, I found the McNamee-Priceville Swinging Suspension Footbridge, spanning the Miramichi River.
The McNamee-Priceville Footbridge is located off of Highway 8, a few kilometers west of Doaktown, and west of the Nelson Hollow Bridge. Look for Carrolls Crossing Road, a loop off the north side of Highway 8. Take it until you see McNamee Footbridge Road, headed north to the river. At the end, you’ll find the footbridge.
This… doesn’t look like a good idea. I’ve walked across pedestrian suspension bridges before, and they always feel a bit “iffy”. But never before had I seen one this long. I wasn’t sure how I felt about crossing it.
Reading the interpretive sign at the end of the bridge didn’t help. It told of the first footbridge at this site, built in 1938, and how three lives were lost on the bridge the following year. The original bridge was just one span (the second version, built in 1939. The third and current version, built in 1988, both have two spans, with support in the middle. Signs warned that only three people should cross at once, but when five people stepped onto the bridge, the cables stretched, and the bridge sagged. It touched the rushing water below it, which pulled the bridge down. Of those five men, three were swept away and killed, one made it to safety on his own, and one was rescued after 90 minutes in the water.
Thankfully, today’s more modern structure is obviously sturdier than the 1938 version — but it’s still either frightening or thrilling to cross, depending on your perspective.
The bridge bounces and sways when you walk across it, and it’s tough to keep from leaning to one side or the other.
The view from the middle of the bridge is quite nice, especially when the trees on either side start to change during fall.
It looks like a few people are hoping the whole “love locks” idea catches on here, but seriously, do we really need to add any more unnecessary weight to this already rickety bridge?
I made it to the far side, then turned around and headed back.
There is some debate over what the bridge should be called. It connects the communities of McNamee (on the south) and Priceville (on the north), so the proper name is probably McNamee-Priceville, but most of the signs simply called it the Priceville Footbridge.
By the return trip, I wasn’t nearly as nervous about the whole adventure. I even stopped for a foot selfie.
The McNamee-Priceville Footbridge is now maintained by the New Brunswick Department of Transportation, and it still serves an important link between the two communities. The next place to cross the river is in Ludlow, about 6 kilometers away.
On the McNamee side of the river (the south side), the footbridge’s approach road passes through a beautiful pasture, where horses graze…
… and cows stare at you with that “what the heck are you doing?” look.
This time, I truly figured that there were no more surprises waiting for me on the way to Fredericton, so I decided to stick around for a few minutes and watch the sun set over the cow pasture.
Back on Carrolls Crossing Road (also known as McNamee Road), I found at least one more photo-worthy spot — an abandoned tin-roof building by the side of the road…
… surrounded by some fall leaves. A barking dog seemed to think that this was his property, so I annoyed him only briefly, then hit the road for Fredericton.
Here’s a look at the drive from Miramichi to the Nelson Hollow Bridge, and then on to the Priceville Footbridge:
The Bottom Line
A walk across the Priceville Footbridge is not for anyone afraid of heights, or afraid of rickety swinging bridges. It’s probably perfectly safe, but almost any reasonable person will feel a bit nervous as they walk across.