The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles, as well as members of the historic bridge community, preservations, historians and the like are sadden to hear of the recent passing of Eric DeLony. He died last week at the age of 74. He spearheaded efforts in documenting and preserving historic bridges in the United States during his time at the Historic American Engineering Record for over three decades. He had served as Chief from 1987 until his retirement in 2003. I had met him once while in New Mexico in 1999 and had been in touch with him many times via e-mail talking a lot about historic bridges and all the problems pertaining to preservation vs modernization and found him to be open and a “walking encyclopedia” on many bridge-related subjects. It was through his influence that hundreds of historic bridges have been saved and reused for recreational purposes. It was also through him that we have the likes of Kitty Henderson, Julie Bowers, Nathan Holth, James Baughn and Todd Wilson, who have continued their efforts in the work of historic bridges, picking up where he had left off. It was also through his inspiration that the Chronicles, launched in 2010, is what it is today.
I did a tribute to Eric in January 2017 as part of the 50h anniversary of the National Register of Historic Places and the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. I’m reposting this in his honor, thanking him for his five decades of dedication and service. Our hearts go out to his family, colleagues, friends and those who knew him all these years, with two words to tell him:
Shaw Bridge at Claverack, New York. Photo courtesy of Jet Lowe of HABS/HAER
A gifted person provides society with a gift to make it better. A person with unusual talents shapes society to benefit all.
For Eric DeLony, a person with a passion for historic bridges not only leads efforts to save them but teaches and encourages bridge lovers and historians to love them and follow his lead. My first contact with him came in 2005 when I wrote my first documents for a Master’s class on American History at the University of Jena in Germany. For the next eight years, despite not being able to meet him in person due to time and travel expenses, I kept in contact with him and he provided some great insights to any topic pertaining to historic bridges, preservation and careers available. Eric was a walking encyclopedia and forefather of historic preservation. Graduating…
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