The Old & Weary Part II
Ontario and Western Railway Historical Society
Contracts for the rebuilding of the bridge were made during February of 1894. The masonry for the new piers was begun in May, and during June the erection of the new steelwork commenced. The new structure contained eight plate girder tower spans of 30 feet each, three spans of 80 feet, four spans of 60 feet, and two spans of 50 feet, a total length of 820 feet. On August 15, 1894 the "new" bridge #282 was completed at a cost of 35,342.51. And, surprisingly, all the work was done without an interruption of train service! Now, heavily loaded coal trains, powered by more modern locomotives, were able to speed towards their destination of either Utica, Rome, or Oswego untethered to the light weight restrictions of the original bridge. In picture four, on the newly rebuilt bridge is a northbound accommodation train obviously stopped on the bridge for its portrait. Notice the more substantial steelwork as compared to the original ironwork.
As expected, this structure was a very important location on the railroad. So important that during the years of World War II the bridge was guarded 24 hours a day to protect it from any form of espionage. An observation post was established on the south side of the bridge, and a small gable roofed shanty put in place to house the watchmen. Whether any "Nazi" or "Jap" sympathizers ever had any designs on sabotaging the Lyon Brook Bridge is questionable, nevertheless you could say that the guards were certainly successful in protecting the bridge and performing their duties.
The rebuilt Lyon Brook bridge served the O&W well until the railroad was abandoned on March 29, 1957. The last weight it had to shoulder was that of the scrap train that removed the rails from the bridge the following year. For another eight years the structure stood over the Lyon Brook but, during March of 1966, Price Demolition Co. of Appalachin, N.Y. began the dismantling of the structure. The following month, what had been a landmark of a once prosperous railroad was completely removed from its longtime setting, leaving nothing but the supporting piers and memories of a once cheering crowd when the first train inched out onto the structure in 1869. Whether any curiosity seekers were in attendance during March and April of 1966 is not known. Maybe it would be better if there weren't any. The demise of wonders of the railroad engineering world is not pleasant, their souls would rather we remember their majesty, their impressiveness, and their job well done! Remember their being, not their passing. Towards that end, a historical marker has been placed along East River Road (just south of Polkville, N.Y.) where the Lyon Brook chasm can be seen in the distance.....Once upon a time there was a great bridge there!