My only regret is that it took me so long to realize how much I loved bridges.
It seems like a lot of folks on here had their realization early on in life that they had an affinity for the subtle beauty of bridges. Me? Not so much. I always had a fascination with bridges growing up, primarily covered bridges. However it was merely a passing interest in their historical nature, concepts like differing truss styles never even occurring to me. I would always go out of my way to see covered bridges however, and it was a daily delight that my daily commute to college required crossing a covered bridge
During my college years for my photography course I did a segment on bridges, cataloging what are now to me gems, such as Vermont’s longest Paddleford Truss covered bridge, the Sanborn Bridge in Lyndonville, VT. Again though, my interest was primarily in the bridges historical nature and all the details of the bridge otherwise being lost on me.
Then one day in the summer of 2013 everything changed.
I was driving in northeastern Vermont, just cruising about. On the Vermont roadmap there was a historical marker in Highgate falls for a “parabolic bridge”. I was close by, and I was curious what a parabolic bridge was, so we made course for the small town. My minds eye determined that this “parabolic” bridge was some modern creation, as a shape like that is never something I would expect to be old.
While driving along I spotted an old bypassed metal bridge, and decided to stop. As I approached the bridge it dawned on me that it was unlike any old metal bridge I had ever seen, as it wasn’t trapezoidal like all the other bridges I was used to. It then dawned on me, admiring the distinctive upper and lower chords, that this was the parabolic bridge that I was searching for. As I began to cross the bridge I looked up at the Berlin Iron Bridge Co. builders plaque, I was stopped by the build date: 1887
How could such an beautiful, gracefully elegant, and complicated bridge have been built in 1887? It didn’t make any sense to me at the time (Mind you I grew up in Vermont, where covered bridges continued to be constructed well into the early 1900’s, so I had no experience with early iron bridges). I became obsessed with this bridge, slowly learning the distinctions of the truss type, concepts such as pin-connected versus riveted, and terms such as “hangers” and “chords”.
Since then my life hasn't been the same. As I learned of the lenticular truss I had to learn about other trusses (as the lenticular truss can employ either Pratt or Warren webbing), and my interest branched out to the truss bridges. I now enjoy investigating and cataloging all types of truss bridges, metal or wooden with a mostly equal level, with a continued special interest in the lenticular truss.
Happy bridge hunting!
Kinderhook Creek BridgeKinderhook Creek Bridge (Columbia County, New York)
Water Street BridgeWater Street Bridge (Cortland County, New York)
Bardwell's Ferry BridgeBardwell's Ferry Bridge (Franklin County, Massachusetts)
Keeseville Suspension BridgeKeeseville Suspension Bridge (Essex County, New York)
Pineground BridgePineground Bridge (Merrimack County, New Hampshire)
Yaleville Road BridgeYaleville Road Bridge (St. Lawrence County, New York)
Livermore Falls BridgeLivermore Falls Bridge (Grafton County, New Hampshire)
Grantville Road BridgeGrantville Road Bridge (St. Lawrence County, New York)
South Washington Street Parabolic BridgeSouth Washington Street Parabolic Bridge (Broome County, New York)
Delage Farm Road BridgeIron Furnace Bridge (Grafton County, New Hampshire)
Old Elm Ridge Road BridgeOld Elm Ridge Road Bridge (Jefferson County, New York)
Aiken Street BridgeAiken Street Bridge (Middlesex County, Massachusetts)
Its a tough call as it is a pretty generic plate design, but I'd be inclined to go with RF Hawkins just as they were a larger fabricator, and the design looks similar to this one that UMass Amherst has, although I wish there were better pictures:
Builders plaque and portal cresting is a solid match for Owego Bridge Co.
This is by far the interesting railroad bridge I have yet to document. The scale and complexity of it was actually a bit staggering...especially in the context of a more rural part of the country where dual-tracked railroad bridges are non-existent (this is the only one in either VT or NH), and the scale of the single track ones never quite come to this level of heavy duty.
The design features are also quite unique. This is pretty late for a pin connected railroad bridge, giving it a elegant look with massive eye-bars and pins. Accounting to a very complex maneuver of crossing the river, the bridge executes 2 turns across the river, creating an even wider 1st span to accommodate the turn. Looking closer, you'll realize that the decking itself is actually built to incline into the curve, making it look crooked at first glance.
Well worth the visit. Wish they could convert this to a rail trail someday, the bridge itself is in excellent condition.
Thanks for going back for the plaque Chester!
Very interesting find here...it indeed looks like a bridge built of the Douglas patent. I have seen occasional mention of Corrugated Metal Co. building a few spans based on the Elliptical truss patent, but these bridges were quite crude and did not hold up well (no doubt owing to some of the design faults visible in the patent drawings, note that the diagonals are sloping in the wrong direction!). It was only when the Yale educated engineer Charles Jarvis was brought in that the design was refined (adding counters to each panel and smoothing out the upper and lower chords) to create the lenticular truss we know.
I'd opt for referring to it as an Elliptical Truss though, just to highlight the difference between this bridge and the extant lenticular trusses that remain today.
Something must have changed in the last few years with NY's approach to historic bridges, as my last couple of jaunts through upstate NY (Clinton/Essex counties) have shown a large number of historic bridges lost, either being replaced by modern welded pony trusses or in the most recent ones just UCEB's. Even some of the more modern 1930's have been subject to replacement in the last few years, despite still being in relatively good condition.
In the last picture you can see a builders plate attached to the railing. If my eyes aren't deceiving me that's Berlin Construction Co., which would match for its location and style.
Chester did you happen to get a picture of it? I'm curious what year this one is!
I've been looking for this bridge for quite some time, as it was listed in older publications of extant Lenticular truss bridges and I was persistently optimistic that it had to be somewhere. Otherwise though, there isn't too much info to go on. It appears to be on private property of a ranch. In older info this was referred to as the Yancey Road Bridge, so either this is an old alignment of the road or the bridge was relocated from the adjacent Yancey Road.
Hopefully a bridgehunter from that region can find some more info on this bridge, or maybe knock on a door and see about getting some pictures!
Glad I was in the neighborhood to give this one a quick documentation. A replacement bridge is being built alongside it, with it looking to be getting close to done. Demolition of this bridge will probably follow soon after.
George, it was my first time ever coming across that stamp in all of my travels, so I don't think it was too common (of course its not like mid 1890's railroad bridges are anywhere near as common as I'd like).
I did find it odd that the stamp was just "Reading, PA" though. But for companies at that time and place Reading Iron Co. seems to fit.
Did a site visit on April 30th. I was very happy to see that the bridge got a rehabilitation in 2015, showing that the VTR intends to keep this bridge in service for more years to come. This is important as this is the oldest RR bridge still in service in VT, as well as the only wrought iron one and also as long span example of a riveted double intersection Warren truss
There was some loss of historic integrity of the bridge with this rehab though; Both abutments were rebuilt with concrete (replacing one original stone abutment), some strengthening steel plates were added to the endposts, several rivets replaced with bolts, and the largest hit being the original girder deck stringers being replaced by modern steel stringers. However the overall function of the truss was not affected, and no repairs or modifications had to be made to the truss web.
Not too bad overall. Wish more truss bridges were maintained like this!
Another bridge I wish I had a time machine for. Its so fascinating how utilitarian is is in comparison to its rural surroundings. And there are several unique design details that make it quite different from remaining examples of this type.
Thanks for uploading Chester! Its cool to see it in color :)
Hopefully the builders plates were recovered by a state agency for storage and not stolen. It was the only Berlin Construction plates in a shield style I had ever seen and were pretty cool.
Needless to say though it'd be more preferable that they remained on this unique pony truss and the bridge was lovingly rehabilitated for continued use.
looks like a Whipple Bowstring and a regular Pratt truss.
It'd be pretty cool to find the two different Whipple types together though :)
Groton does seem likely now, comparing details with other extant ponies it does seem similar. Thanks Nathan!