Shortest International Bridge

I remember the story of the the alleged World’s Shortest International Bridge making the rounds of the Intertubes a few years ago. I ignored it intentionally, not so much because of what I thought about its claim since I had no way to confirm or dispute it, but because it was already receiving plenty of coverages from websites a whole lot more popular than the Twelve Mile Circle.

How many readers were expecting me to pull out this old chestnut when you saw the title of my post?

World's Shortest International Bridge
SOURCE: Flickr under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

I say the "alleged" shortest international bridge because, well, it may be short but it’s certainly not international. I know Google Maps can sometimes be just a little off while rendering borders, but this image is accurate (as confirmed by a USGS topographic map).

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If there’s any doubt, hopefully this will demonstrate that Zavikon Island, one of the St. Lawrence River’s "1000 Islands" is located entirely within Canada. I don’t think my one lone voice will mitigate all the false information on the Internet but maybe this will help make a small dent.

This post is made possible by 12MC loyal reader Scott (that’s Scott of the The Park You Cannot Visit and National Preserves, as opposed to Scott of Strip Annexation in Arizona; two different Scotts who are both super contributors). He came up with the idea for this article and provided evidence for what may be a genuine world’s shortest international bridge, or if not then one certainly within a few centimetres of that claim.

Scott visited the Czech Republic and Poland recently, including a location that I featured in an earlier article called International Clip. The whole point of that post was to feature places where someone could drive from one nation to another, while barely clipping a third in between them.

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In this example, a traveler — Scott in this instance — could begin a trip in the Czech Republic, clip a 1.5 km corner of Poland and then enter Germany. What’s left unstated is how Scott learned that I’d already featured an article on this spot because I certainly didn’t remember it. I’m guessing he probably used my Interactive Map of Every Article Ever Featured on 12MC when he returned home. Whatever the case, this is what Scott found as he crossed from the Czech Republic at that same point and entered Poland.

Entering Poland from Czech Republic

Notice the "C" on the post marking the Czech side of the border in Scott’s photo. I guess I’m puzzled that this is such a mundane and unremarkable border crossing. It’s all within the Schengen Area so that’s to be expected now. However I remember the first time I crossed between those two nations back in the "dark ages" on a train at night. We were rousted from our sleeper berth by armed border guards with flashlights making sure our passports were in order. Now? It’s no more difficult than my trip through MDVAWV a few days ago. I’m continuously amazed at how significantly the world has changed during my lifetime.

Anyway, let’s get off that tangent and return to the topic at hand.

Entering Czech Republic from Poland

Scott turned around and took another photograph, this time with the "P" marking the Polish side. I like this one because I can also see the oval shield with the crest of the Czech Republic a couple of steps further along.

Shortest international bridge? I don’t know. I guess someone could always make one a few whiskers shorter if he really wanted to claim the title. However, I have to figure at some point it would stop being a bridge and start being a road with a culvert beneath it.

This is clearly a bridge. Sure, it spans what appears to be either a minor creek or a drainage ditch but there’s no doubt that it crosses from one sovereign nation into another. I challenge anyone to find a shorter international bridge. It’s even shorter than the fake one in Canada.

Thanks for the great research and detective work, Scott! I owe you a finder’s fee — a beer if our paths ever cross in the real world, because 12MC really is that low-budget.

Totally Unrelated

We let our older son pick the spot for our holiday next summer. He selected Oregon. I’ve already done Portland, some of the Columbia River and much of the Pacific Coast, so I’m thinking Bend, Oregon. Anyone have other suggestions?


15 Replies to “Shortest International Bridge”

  1. One of the smallest international bridges that still has border controls may be the bridge between Beit She’an, Israel and Jordan, which crosses the Jordan River. It appears to be about 350 feet long.

    I’m guessing the smallest international airport with regularly scheduled flights is the one on Pelee Island, Ontario, which is basically just a runway and a little shed. It shares a customs officer with the ship dock a couple miles away.

    Not international, but supposedly the world’s smallest ferry route is in Toronto, between the City Center Airport and the mainland. For years, there has been a battle between residents of the island, who want the airport shut down, and airport supporters, who want a bridge built. In the meantime, passengers must cross the 400-foot channel on a boat.

    1. Matt

      I don’t know if the Toronto ferry you reference is the shortest. There is a hand-cranked!! cable ferry across the Mopan River in Belize on the way to Xunatunich. I think it is much shorter than 400 feet. The ferry can carry cars. Here is a link to a video of the ferry.

  2. A few interesting things — that short stretch of road in Poland has several gas stations, because gas is considerably cheaper in Poland than in both Germany and the Czech Republic, but the gas stations advertise their prices in euro, not zloty. There was an abandoned border post just into the Czech Republic — you can sort of see it in the top middle of the last photo. I found it interesting that when you are looking towards the P on that post, you’re looking into the Czech, and when you look at the C, you’re looking into Poland.

    If you park just past this bridge on the Czech side and walk on a well marked bike path to the west for a few minutes, you’ll come to the Germany/Czech/Poland tripoint, which is in the middle of a river. At the parking lot for it, they even have a small sign to the “trojmezi”. There is another international footbridge between CZ and PL closer to the tripoint, but it’s longer than the one in the photos above. There was also a large sign, but not in English, that showed a picture of what they are planning on doing to the site, adding paths and additional monuments — it looked like they are trying to get lots of tourists to visit the tripoint.

    And finally, the little stream that this short international bridge crosses (yes, it’s a real stream, with flowing water) was constrained Rio Grande style. It seemed like a small natural brook with supports on the banks. They don’t want that border shifting on them.

    As far as Oregon… Bend is great, lots to do right there. I’d recommend a day trip up to the John Day Fossil Beds NM (there are three park stamps there — one for each area of the monument!). If you’re in that area, you can also check out to collect fossils.

    1. that short stretch of road in Poland has several gas stations, because gas is considerably cheaper in Poland than in both Germany and the Czech Republic, but the gas stations advertise their prices in euro, not zloty

      Google Maps shows a couple of roads which intersect with that stretch of road entirely within Poland. No doubt the tank trucks which service the gas stations use those roads, thereby avoiding passage into Czech or German territory and staying out of reach of those countries’ taxation authorities. Another interesting feature shown on the satellite view is an enormous strip mine just to the northeast of the road in Poland.

    2. Fossil, Oregon is not far from Bend but the fossils are pretty well picked through. I was there last summer and found that the hillside behind the high school, where public fossil digging is permitted, was eroded considerably from the digging by several years of visitors. Much harder to find decent plant fossils, which was quite a change from my first visit in 2009 when fossils were abundant. In my last visit the city was considering other sites for fossil hunting but I don’t know what they’ve come up with (haven’t visited the web site lately so maybe there’s something new that I don’t know about).

  3. There are a couple of very short bridges between France and Spain in the Basque country. I remember one especially, which linked a campsite in France to a “venta” in Spain where everything is (or was then) cheaper: alcohol, cigarettes, etc.
    Here is the google maps link, there is an option for Streetview if you zoom in:
    BTW, love your blog!

  4. The “Bridge of No Return” between North and South Korea is about 500 feet long, but the river it crosses is only about 50 feet wide — the longest 50 feet in the world.

  5. There’s one county in Eastern Oregon that uses Mountain Time. Also, there’s a neat confluence point at 45 North, 123 W that sits directly on an on-ramp at Interstate 5, very rare for a coordinate like that.

    Of course, things like Crater Lake and the Columbia River Gorge are probably much prettier and worth the time, but that could be just me. 🙂

    1. Of course – always the one to support any geographic oddities, I support a visit to Malheur County and the confluence.

      I’m also in favor of the “almost” westernmost U.S. point Cape Blanco and the westernmost incorporated town in the country, Port Orford.

      Another interesting feature is Sand Island, which apparently moved north towards Washington when jetties were put in the Colombia River. It’s now most accessible by boat from Cape Disappointment State Park in Washington. The biggest disappointment would probably be trying to visit this unremarkable place instead of, say, Crater Lake…but I’d laud the effort.

    1. That’s pretty amazing. It will likely drop — the Google algorithm seems to give a higher score to recent blog posts vs. older ones — but for now we’re on the first page of results, on our long battle to counter the misinformation about the fake international bridge in the Thousand Islands.

  6. What’s to stop me from going to a remote and unpatrolled section of the US/Canada border, pouring out enough water to make a puddle, laying down a plank and walking across it, and declaring that to be an international bridge?

    Common sense should stop me, you say? Sheesh. You’re no fun.

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