The Old Sunset Beach Bridge

Posted on 03/02/2013

It’s been a little over a year since the Sunset Beach swing bridge was relieved of its duty after the better part of 50 years on the job. Whether you were a local to the area or a visitor on vacation this little engine that could was a door way of nostalgia which took us back in time as we crossed the single lane wooded bridge to a quaint island paradise. It was that welcoming sign that you were only minutes away from your destination. That is unless you arrived at the top of the hour when the swing bring, like clockwork, would turn on its pontoons to allow waiting boaters to pass.  

As Brunswick County North Carolina continued to grow so did Sunset Beach, and with this growth became the unfortunate reality that it was time for a change. The decision was made to replace the swing bridge with a two lane, 65 foot high arch bridge. Most locals were not for this decision but it was necessary- then came the question of what will become of this timeless landmark to the area. The bridge was actually scheduled for demolition that is until three Sunset Beach women stepped in and formed the Old Bridge Preservation Society.

Founders Karen Dombowski, Chris Wilson, and Ann Bokelman diligently worked to save the bridge, and they did! They managed to get 6,000 letters from residents, homeowners and guests to the island. Clarice and Ronnie Holden, owners of Twin Lakes Seafood and Island Breeze, came to the rescue and generously donated the land where the bridge has been moved, which is ironically only a few hundred feet away from where it sat on the Intracoastal Waterway for over 50 years. It also rests under the shadow of the new arch bridge where you can stop by and tour what was once the only means, other than by boat, on or off the island.  To visit the Old Bridge you can stop by 109 Shoreline Drive West in Sunset Beach or go the OBPS website at for more information.

A lot of people miss traveling over the old bridge, myself included, but there is no doubt that the new bridge was a necessity and much easier for everyone. Not only does it make travel much quicker to and from the island, but the boats no longer have to wait for their "once an hour window” to pass through. One of the many silver linings to the new addition is now; like the arch bridge between the mainland and Ocean Isle Beach, when at the top you can see for miles and it’s absolutely majestic!

So as the saying goes "when one door closes, another one opens” only this door was the last of its kind but thanks to the Old Bridge Preservation Society you can still visit and reminisce with a piece of history and culture of Sunset Beach.