The first international bridge built near the falls was known as the Upper Suspension or New Suspension Bridge. When it was opened in 1869 with a 1,260-foot (384-meter) span, it was the longest suspension bridge ever constructed. The bridge was widened in 1888 to accommodate two-way traffic. On January 9, 1889, a strong southwest gale destroyed the bridge. It was quickly rebuilt and reopened on May 7, 1889.
The desire to have an electric railway crossing the gorge near the falls made it necessary to replace the Upper Suspension Bridge with a steel arch bridge. When the new bridge opened the following year, it became the world's longest single-span arch at 840 feet (256 meters). It was known as the Upper Steel Arch Bridge, International Railway Company Bridge, Falls View Bridge, and more popularly, the Honeymoon Bridge.
During the winter of 1937-1938, a very large and high ice bridge formed in the gorge and extended from the falls to Lake Ontario. On January 27, the ice pushed the bridge off its abutments. The bridge crumpled and fell onto the ice where it lay until the ice bridge broke up in April. Most of the wreckage sank where it had fallen, but some floated downriver on the ice and then sank. You can still see the concrete abutments near the bottom of the gorge, just upriver from the Rainbow Bridge.
The present Rainbow Bridge opened on November 1, 1941. Its abutments were built about 28 feet (8.53 meters) higher than those of the ill-fated Honeymoon Bridge to avoid problems with ice jams.
Upper Suspension Bridge, Courier and Ives lithograph, ca. 1870. Honeymoon Bridge prior to its collapse in 1938. Courtesy Niagara Falls Public Library. Honeymoon Bridge, 1937. Courtesy of Niagara Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau. This series of photographs shows the damage to the Honeymoon Bridge and its collapse on to the ice bridge.