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DCLR - Lewes Creek Swing Bridge

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Photos 

Lewes Railroad Swing Bridge

Photo looks northwest from adjacent Freeman Memorial Highway (Rd. 23) bridge

Photo taken by Marty Bernard March 13, 2013

View this photo at railfan44.rrpicturearchives.net

Videos 

Two men swing the railroad bridge over the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal to the open position to allow passage for boats after a train has crossed.

John Winder

Lewes Drawbridge

Gun barrel from USS Missouri being delivered to Cape Henlopen State Park in April 2012. Video shows the manual cranking process used by railroad employees to "wind" the bridge closed using a lever and capstan.

Cape Gazette (www.capegazette.com)

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Lewes Railroad Swing Bridge

Video from track approach shows cranking operation in greater detail, including a second mechanism to lock the bridge into place

Nick Roth

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Lewes Railroad Swing Bridge

Video from track approach shows cranking operation in greater detail as bridge is opened

Susan Hutcheson Keyser

Play video

DCLR - Lewes Creek Swing Bridge

Delaware Coast Line 4024 crosses the bridge with the line's caboose and three tank cars from Bancroft en route back to Georgetown, Del.

Harry Keyser

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Map 

Street Views 

Description 

Bridge closed to traffic Sept. 2016 account inspection revealed the main pier settled several inches since Feb. 2016 inspection. Repairs anticipated to take up to three years to execute account state budgeting.

Hand-cranked swing bridge, opened and closed by means of a beam "wound" like a large winch. Bridge sees rail service perhaps once a week at best, to serve one industry near Cape Henlopen State Park with compressed-gas tank cars. Bridge normally left in open position and closed in advance of railroad traffic.

From Delaware Department of Transportation, with updated correction:

"The Delaware, Maryland & Virginia Railroad Bridge Number 38.71 carries the Georgetown-Lewes railroad line over the Lewes and Rehoboth Canal, 1/4-mile south of State Route 9 (Business) in Lewes. The bridge is a center-bearing, bobtail, swing span with an over all length of 92' and a deck width of about 17'. Constructed in 1916, the bridge is historically significant as a surviving example of a swing span railroad bridge.

The swing span bridge has a deck girder superstructure composed of two tapered. built-up girders. The design is called a bobtail swing span because of the unequal lengths of its two arms; the longer of the two arms measures about 60'-long, and the shorter about 30'-long. The end of the shorter arm is framed with a concrete counterweight for balance. Bobtail swing spans commonly were used for narrow waterways where the off-center pivot pier caused less of a channel obstruction. The abutments and pivot pier are concrete.

The bridge is operated manually by a capstan inserted in a drive shaft located in the deck. The capstan and drive shaft turn beveled open reduction gears that engage the pinion gear mounted on the pivot pier. The bridge rotates on its center bearing with eight balance wheels traveling on a track. A shaft operates a worm gear that moves two end wedges at the abutment end of the swing spanís longer arm. In the closed position, the wedges lift the arm to afford a rigid support on the abutment and neutralize the end deflection of the arms. As with all movable railroad bridges, an important consideration is aligning the rails on the bridge with those of the approaching railroad tracks. To accomplish a secure fit, the rails on the ends of the bridge are bowed upwards by rail lift rods. After the bridge is closed, the operator engages a lever that lowers the rods, thus lowering the rails into a slotted fitting with the approach tracks.

The Georgetown-Lewes rail line was established in 1869 as part of the Junction and Breakwater Railroad (J&B), a short line running from the Delaware Railroad at Harrington to the breakwater at Lewes. In 1883, the J&B was renamed the Delaware, Maryland & Virginia Railroad (DM&V) as part of the consolidation of several smaller Delmarva lines under the control of the Pennsylvania Railroad. The DM&V spurred the development of fish oil processing near Cape Henlopen. These factories, located on the eastern side of the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal, were serviced by the DM&V, which made use of the swing span bridge to deliver their products.

The line currently is owned by DelDOT and operated by the [Delaware Coast Line] Railroad.

The 1916 swing span bridge was erected as part of the construction of the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal, begun in 1912. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the 12-mile long canal as part of the inland waterway. In the vicinity of Lewes, the canal followed the natural course of Lewes Creek, which was channelized to meet the canal specifications. In 1915, when the canal reached the existing railroad bridge over Lewes Creek, the DM&V submitted a proposal to the Corps to construct the swing span bridge. It was fabricated by the American Bridge Company at its Pencoyd, Pennsylvania shops."

Facts 

Overview
Deck plate girder swing bridge over Intracoastal Waterway on Delaware Coast Line RR
Location
Lewes, Sussex County, Delaware
Status
Intact but closed to all traffic
Future prospects
Bridge closed to rail traffic in late September 2016 account settled pier: http://www.capegazette.com/article/swing-bridge-over-canal-c...

Railroad has filed for abandonment of section of line that includes this bridge, but will jack up settled span to retrieve three stranded tank cars later in 2017.

http://www.capegazette.com/node/137466

History
Built 1916; Abandoned 2017
Builder
- American Bridge Co. of New York
Railroads
- Delaware Coast Line Railroad (DCLR)
- Delaware, Maryland & Virginia Railroad (DM&V)
- Maryland & Delaware Railroad (MDDE)
- Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR)
Design
Bobtail deck plate girder swing span
Also called
Lewes Railroad Swing Bridge
PRR - Bridge 38.71
MDDE - Lewes Swing Bridge
MDDE - Bridge 38.71
MDDE - Lewes Creek Swing Bridge
DM&V - Bridge 38.71
PRR - Lewes Swing Bridge
DCLR - Bridge 38.71
DM&V - Lewes Creek Swing Bridge
PRR - Lewes Creek Swing Bridge
DCLR - Lewes Swing Bridge
DM&V - Lewes Swing Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+38.77359, -75.13388   (decimal degrees)
38°46'25" N, 75°08'02" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
18/488370/4291660 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Lewes
Inventory number
BH 55943 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • July 11, 2017: Updated by Alexander D. Mitchell IV: Rail line has filed to abandion bridge, but will close draw span one last time to retrieve three tank cars before abandonment
  • October 14, 2016: Updated by Alexander D. Mitchell IV: Bridge closed to rail traffic late Sept. 2016
  • September 1, 2016: Updated by Alexander D. Mitchell IV: Videos added
  • August 18, 2016: New Street View added by Dana and Kay Klein
  • August 18, 2016: New video from Alexander D. Mitchell IV
  • December 26, 2015: Updated by Alexander D. Mitchell IV: Added construction date and details
  • March 31, 2013: Added by Alexander D. Mitchell IV

Comments 

DCLR - Lewes Creek Swing Bridge
Posted June 22, 2017, by Dana and Kay Klein

Hand Operated

Lewes Railroad Swing Bridge
Posted April 3, 2013, by Alexander D. Mitchell IV

The railroad is effectively a "dead-end" branch-line railroad ending at an industry about a mile east of the bridge, with only one crew, one locomotive, etc. The trains operates at fairly low speed. The crew members on the train are often (usually? I've seen a guy in a truck drive out to close the bridge in advance once...) the ones cranking the bridge open and close. It's akin to the gate or garage door at the end of a driveway being open or close before you drive out onto the road--you don't need a signal to tell you your gate or garage door is open or not, do you?

Lewes Railroad Swing Bridge
Posted April 2, 2013, by Anonymous

Wow, very unique bridge. But how does the railroad know when the bridge is open? Does the open bridge turn the railroad signal to "red" status?