The Curran Suspension Bridge, and its engineer, Kenneth Curran, enjoy a long and rich history in the Town of Littleton, a history that reflects the industrious, self-reliant nature of both town and benefactor.
The Curran Bridge is the third such bridge in this spot, an essential link between the industrial section of town on the north side of the Ammonoosuc and the residential section of the town on the south side.
Prior to the first bridge being erected in the late 1800's, workers used a rope drawn skiff to cross the Ammonoossuc to get to the Saranac Glove Factory, which was founded in 1866. With the advent of the factory's switch to steam power in the late 1800's, the river breached the dam and its dam power, making the passage by skiff impractical, and the first wooden structure was built.
A suspension bridge was originally built on this site in 1902. Suspension bridge technology enabled a much longer main span than with other types of bridge construction. With a span across the Ammonoosuc of 244 feet, such a long main span was very important. The original suspension bridge was lost in the Great New England Hurricane of 1938, which caused considerable damage across the State of New Hampshire and brought 163 mph winds to nearby Mt. Washington. Faced with a dilemma to preserve or replace the bridge,
the Town turned to a Littleton native, recently returning home after receiving an Engineering degree from Northwestern University. Frugal and disciplined by nature, Kenneth Elwin Curran (1912-2003) returned to his hometown determined to make an impact, and this began with his work on replacing the lost suspension bridge. The town voted to award Curran the contract at a cost of $3,250. While Curran replaced the wooden towers with steel, he examined the underground anchors to the steel cables and found them wrapped in lanolin rich deer hides which preserved/the cables. He left them alone. This diligence allowed Curran to complete the construction of this bridge for $3,049, and he refused to bill the Town for the balance.
This balance of personal business interest with respect and fairness became a hallmark of Curran's career, regarding every job as a promise to the taxpayer. His firm grew to be a major employer in the region, employing hundreds and constructing airfields, dams, utilities, schools, and notably, bridges across New England. Fiscally prudent and politically vocal, Curran was valued by the government agencies who funded many of his construction jobs, who respected his commitment to bring his projects in under budget.
Curran was a disciplined man who loved his hometown of Littleton and its surrounding wildlife. He planned an endowment to the Town after his death which
ensured his-first public works contract, this bridge, would stand in perpetuity, and the Town of Littleton in turn named this bridge the Curran Suspension Bridge.