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NYC - Upper Bridge (1866)


Photo taken by Churchill and Dennison for W. J. Gibson, sourced from Harper's Weekly

View this photo on Wikipedia

BH Photo #283304


AFTER years of vexatious delays, caused by litigation with parties representing interests farther up the river, the work on this bridge was commenced in April, 1864. The first locomotive, the "Augustus Schell, of the Hudson River Railroad, crossed the bridge February 15, 1866, and the first passenger train on February 22.

The bridge proper (omitting the approaches, which in themselves are quite formidable) consists of two abutments and nineteen piers, making a total length of 2020 feet. The extreme length of the bridge is nearly a mile. The main channel of the river is crossed by four spans of 178 feet between the centres of the piers, on the plan known as "Howe's," and two draw spaces of 13¾ feet each. The remaining 14 spans over the shallow water on the east side, as also over the basin on the Albany side, are short spans ranging from 72 to 78 feet each, built on the same general plan. The trestlework approach to the bridge in the city is about 1500 feet-long.

Our view (from a photograph taken by CHURCHILL and DENNISON, for W. J. GIBSON) represents the bridge from the Albany Basin to the Eastern Shore, as seen from the large New York Central Railroad Elevator, which stands a few rods south of the bridge.

The drawbridge, including the iron turn-table upon which it rests, is entirely novel, planned specially for the locality, and the circumstances under which it has been built and will be operated. The piers and abutments are all founded on piles. In some cases the bed of the river was excavated to a depth of 10 or 12 feet, and within this space piles were driven to the bard bottom, sometimes as low as 33 feet. A heavy timber crib was then built around these piles of the dimensions of the proposed pier, resting on the bottom of the excavation, and reaching to within three feet below water-mark. This crib was then filled with concrete and floored with heavy timber, upon which the first stones of the masonry were laid. In other cases, after excavating as before, and driving the piles, the latter were sawed off, and a floating caisson, with a heavy timber floor, of the dimensions of the proposed pier, was anchored over the piles and the masonry commenced in this caisson, which soon settled to its hearing on the heads of the piles, when the sides were removed by unscrewing some bolts, and floated away to serve elsewhere.

The piers are of cut limestone masonry, with rough faces, and are 80 feet in height above low-water, and have a width at the bottom of 9 feet and at the top under the coping (which projects 9 inches on all sides) of 6½ feet. They are all built of heavy cut stone laid in cement.

The face stones are all cramped together by iron cramps, and, in addition, the two faces of the pier are tied together by iron bars at intervals on each course along the front extending through the pier from side to side; and, still further to insure the strength of the masonry, the head stones are all dowled together with iron dowels—each stone to the stones both above and below.

The bridge has been constructed by "The Albany Bridge Company," constituted mainly of Directors in the different railroads centering at Albany and it is understood that it is owned one half by the New York Central Railroad and one quarter each by the Hudson River and Albany and Boston Roads. The total cost of the bridge has been over a million of dollars.

Source: http://www.catskillarchive.com/rrextra/albbrdg.Html


Lost Howe through truss bridge over Hudson River on New York Central Railroad
Rensselaer, Rensselaer County, New York, and Albany County, New York
Replaced by a new bridge
Built 1866, Replaced 1870
- Albany Bridge Co.
- Hudson River Bridge Co.
- New York Central Railroad (NYC)
Howe through truss
Approximate latitude, longitude
+42.65366, -73.74169   (decimal degrees)
42°39'13" N, 73°44'30" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
18/603137/4723122 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Troy South
Inventory number
BH 60905 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • May 9, 2014: Added by Luke Harden

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