A Simple Bridge to a Simple Paradise on the East End

The Post Lane Bridge crosses the Quogue Canal, connecting the Village of Quogue with Dune Road, on the barrier island to the south. A bascule drawbridge, built in 1940, it is only 170 feet in length, with a vertical clearance of about 15 feet, unopened. There’s a small station for the lone bridgekeeper, not unlike a turnpike tollbooth. Approximately 1,700 to 2,000 car crossings occur each day, and bridge openings are much rarer events. It sits roughly halfway between Quogue’s Penniman Creek and Ogden Pond, and the canal itself terminates at Quantuck Bay to the west. Quogue Canal essentially is a link between Shinnecock Bay and Moriches Bay, trafficked almost entirely by pleasure boats.

The bridge was built as a replacement for Beach Lane Bridge, which was destroyed in the Hurricane of 1938. That storm also breached the barrier island between Hampton Bays and Southampton, creating Shinnecock Inlet. It’s a sturdy, unprepossessing little bridge as bridges go, with nothing like the dramatic scale and sweep of the Ponquogue Bridge, but it’s my favorite, by far. This is my love letter to…a bridge.

I’m drawn to the seaside, as so many of us are on the East End, and my beaches of choice lie between the Quogue and Hampton Bays sections of Dune Road. This is the East Quogue stretch, a sparsely developed couple of miles with unspoiled wetland preserves, stunning views of Shinnecock Bay, and a handful of lovely ocean beaches that are never crowded. Who could ask for more? The Post Lane Bridge is my gateway, and it brings a smile whenever it comes into view.

I cross it as often as possible, at the wheel of a Jeep, or leisurely pedaling a “vintage” skinny-tire Peugeot bicycle when time and weather permit. And it never fails that the approach and transit of this little bridge lifts my spirits, and heightens the anticipation of the good things that lie ahead. Maybe it’s the scale, maybe it’s the setting. The beautifully tended lawns, the wind-sculpted Hinoki cypress trees that line the approach, create the illusion of a miniature golf course in heaven, with the bridge as one of the more whimsical obstacles. The wise city fathers of Quogue built a small traffic circle where Niamogue Lane meets Post Road, about 300 yards north of the bridge, which calms the already sedate Quogue traffic and adds a bit of public green space to the idyllic mix. As a result, nobody is speeding when they reach the bridge, and if I slow up a bit to admire the view there are no unpleasant consequences. (If you drive regularly on Long Island, you can appreciate just how rare and refreshing that is.) If I’m on my bike I usually pause at the apex, catch my breath, and check out whatever boats are bobbing in the canal. A wave to the bridgekeeper, a gulp of fresh sea air, and I’m on my way.

I’ve seen some wonderful bridges. Venice’s Bridge of Sighs, London’s Tower Bridge, the Pont du Gard of Nîmes. Beautiful. New York City has a remarkable array, some of stone, some of steel and all bumper-to-bumper with exasperated motorists. But day in, day out, come rain or come shine, I’ll take the Post Lane, to my favorite place, and at my own pace.

 

BACK TO Featured Stories