Before there was a bridge here, there was a ford, a shallow place in the river that allowed people or animals to walk across. Fording a river can be dangerous and typically means getting at least your boots wet. Floods can prevent rivers from being crossed and riverbeds are not typically very smooth for driving wagons across. A bridge was a benefit to the community.
The first bridge was built a quarter mile downstream from the ford at this location in 1820. Unfortunately, floods from heavy snow melt and rain carried away that bridge and its two successors. The third bridge was destroyed in 1869 when the floods were so violent as to snap the two-inch-thick bolts holding the bridge to a center pier.
This bridge was built in 1869 by Jacob Berry of North Conway. According to Berry, he designed the bridge to be so strong that one could fill it with wood and it would not collapse or otherwise fail. There is no record of this claim ever having been tested though.
The bridge is named after James Holmes Durgin a local resident who ran a grist mill. The bridge was also a link in the underground slave railroad from Sandwich to North Conway.