The Bridges of Westchester County, New York

Goldens Bridge. Photo taken by Kent Findley in 2017

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New York City and its boroughs are well known for their iconic crossings which have stood the test of time. When people think of the largest city in the US, the first bridges to come to mind are the Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg and Queensboro Bridges along the East River, the Triborough Bridges and the structures built by Othmar H. Ammann, including the Bronx White Stone, Bayonne, George Washington and the Verrazano Narrows, the last of which is still the longest suspension bridge in the US.

Yet going north away from New York is Westchester County. If there is one county that has a wide array of historic bridges spanning different bodies of water in the state, Westchester would be in the top five in the state. It’s well known for two of the crossings over the Hudson River- the Bear Mountain Bridge and the Mario Cuomo Bridge (which replaced the Tappan Zee Bridge in 2017).  Little do people realize is that the county has several bodies of water where one can find many historic and unique crossings scattered all over the place. For starters, northeast of the Cuomo Bridge is Rockefellar State Park, where as many as six stone arch bridges spanning the Pocantico River can be found within a five mile radius of each other. There’s also the Croton River, a major source of water for the New York City area. There one can find a large batch of bridges along the river, including those along the New Croton Reservoir, like the AM Vets Memorial Bridge, Gate House Bridge and North COuntry Trailway. Also included in the mix are Goldens Bridge and Plum Brook Road Bridge at Muscoot Reservoir, which also belong to the Croton River crossings. Four historic bridges including Deans Bridge in Croton Falls round off the tour along the Croton River before the river crosses into Putnam County. As many as a dozen historic arch bridges built in the 1930s spanning historic parkways and four historic bridges along Annsville Creek round off the tour of Westchester County’s finest bridges, that feature as many as seven different bridge types and a span of over a century and a half of bridge building that started in the 1870s.

Deans Bridge. Photo taken by John Reidy in 2016

Sadly though, the number of historic bridges in Westchester County is dwindling. Many bridges that have been out of service for at least 20 years are scheduled to be removed. Three of them- Deans Bridge, Goldens Bridge and Plum Brook Road- are scheduled to be torn down by sometime in the next year. Each crossing has some unique characteristics and historic value that justify not only their listing on the National Register but also rehabilitation and reuse for recreational purposes. Goldens Bridge has a Whipple through truss design with Phoenix columns. Deans and Plum Brook have unique portal bracings that are rare to find in the state, let alone the US.

Yet the bridges in Westchester County are very popular among locals and one of them even produced a gallery of paintings of these unique structures. That with some facts fan be found in the Gallery of Paintings of Westchester County’s Bridges, available via link. A whole list of crossings, both past and present, can be found in the bridgehunter.com website- the link is found as well.

It is unknown whether these galleries will help preserve these structures, but by looking at them, it will bring attention to the readers who may want to visit them in the future. May through a visit and a tour will the interest in saving them for future use increase substantially, even in these hard times like we’re having at present.

Plum Brook Road Bridge. Photo by John Reidy

So have a look at two sets of galleries and enjoy! 🙂

 

Links to Tour Guides:

Gallery courtesy of Bridgehunter.com: https://bridgehunter.com/ny/westchester/

Gallery of Bridge Paintings: https://bridgesofwestchester.wordpress.com/gallery/

Muscoot Reservoir Bridge. Photo taken by John Reidy

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BHC Newsflyer: 3 April, 2020

Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls, MA: Photo by FFM784 / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

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To Listen to the Podcast, click onto the link here: https://anchor.fm/jason-smith-bhc19/episodes/BHC-Newsflyer-3-April-2020-ecb9bu

 

Headlines:

Pennsylvania Recommences Emergency Projects Despite Statewide Lockdown

Link: https://local21news.com/news/local/penndot-restarts-critical-highway-and-bridge-projects

Information on Lockdown: https://local21news.com/news/local/gov-tom-wolf-places-all-of-pennsylvania-under-an-order-to-stay-at-home

 

Merger of the Thruway and Bridge Authorities in New York Fails

Link: https://www.hudsonvalley360.com/news/greenecounty/thruway-bridge-authority-merger-defeated/article_27b45008-7a2d-52aa-a6ca-acc912bddb06.html

 

Bayonne Bridge Receives Prestigious Award by ASCE

Link: https://www.worldhighways.com/wh10/news/award-bayonne-bridge-project-us

Bridge Information: http://bridgehunter.com/nj/hudson/bayonne/

 

Virus Delays Rehabilitation Project at Winnington Swing Bridge

Link: https://www.northwichguardian.co.uk/news/18350450.coronavirus-delays-winnington-swing-bridge-repairs-for-months/

Information on the Bridge: http://wikimapia.org/31962829/Winnington-Swing-Bridge-River-Weaver-Navigation

 

Virus Delays Work on Bettendorf Bridge Replacement Project

I-74 Bridge Project: https://i74riverbridge.com/

 

Bridge of Flowers Closed due to Corona.

Link to website: www.bridgeofflowersmass.org

 

Smith Road Bridge Relocated to New Home

Article: https://www.channel3000.com/this-wisconsin-bridge-is-the-same-age-as-the-titanic-how-a-family-is-working-to-preserve-it-after-its-removal/

Information on the Bridge: http://bridgehunter.com/wi/rock/P53015300000000/

 

Schlunzig Cable-Stayed Bridge Project Delayed because of Corona

Article: https://www.freiepresse.de/zwickau/werdau/ziel-bruecken-sollen-in-diesem-jahr-fertig-werden-artikel10764020

 

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The Okoboji Bridge at Parks Marina

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Many thanks to Mary Dreier for the photos. 

Back in 2011, I had an opportunity to photograph, document and film the Okoboji Bridge, which used to span the Little Sioux River, a few miles west of West Lake Okoboji. It had spanned the strait that connected West and East Lakes as the second crossing between the first (a cable-stayed span with wooden towers) and the third, a single-span arch bridge. The current span, also an arch bridge, still carries US Hwy. 71 between Okoboji and Arnolds Park.

The bridge was damaged by the flooding during my visit and it would have taken a miracle to pull it out and make the necessary repairs in order for it to return to service someday. Most truss bridges damaged by major storms and floods are usually demolished and replaced because the repair costs are “too high,” according to county engineers. However the bridge was taken off the river and dismantled, stored somewhere until an owner would reclaim it and use it for his/her purpose.

That was according to bridgehunter.com.

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According to Mary Dreier, however, the bridge has a new owner.  Butch Parks, who owns the Parks Marina conglomerate, recently purchased the bridge. According to the website,

Parks Marina on East Lake Okoboji was established in 1983 when Leo “Butch” Parks purchased the then Gibson Sporting Goods. What was once a small fishing boat sales and repair facility, has expanded into a diversified three location business, with marinas, sales, service, storage, boat rentals, pro-shops, and specialty retail stores. Parks Marina on East Lake Okoboji features the World Famous Barefoot Bar. Okoboji Boat Works on West Lake Okoboji features much of the same, along with state of the art boat slips, the world’s largest Fish House, pro-shop and clothing Boutique, and a sandy beach for families to enjoy.

Part of the Parks Marina conglomerate includes a boat sales and service store in Sioux Falls, plus the Central Emporium in Arnolds Park, a shopping mall with over a century’s worth of tradition with small shops that sell food and merchandise typical of the Lakes Region.

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Now how does the Okoboji Bridge come into play?

The board of the county historical society recently did a presentation on the bridge and its history, which was well-received by many visitors. It was learned that Mr. Parks bought the bridge a while back with plans to install the crossing over a pond located just outside its East Lake Okoboji location. Already a concrete bridge is in place, according to Google Maps, yet it doesn’t mean that it is impossible to install it either in its place or elsewhere on the grounds. What is known is according to Ms. Dreier, the bridge is currently sitting on the grounds, just outside the large building which stores boats and the like, waiting to be sold and used on the lakes.

What will become of the bridge is unclear. I enquired Parks Marina about the purchase of the bridge and its future use via e-mail, only to get a no response. It could be that the headquarters is still in hibernation and it’s just a matter of a few months until I get a response. It could also be that the owner is not sure what the plans are with the bridge. But in any case, if he does respond, I have some questions for him, which includes:

  1. Why this bridge?
  2. What are the plans for the structure?

To be continued. But for now, enjoy the photos Ms. Dreier took for this article.

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Castlewood Bridge in a new home- On the Threshing Grounds

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Photo from City of Castlewood

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Approximately two weeks ago, I did a write-up on the Castlewood Thacher Truss Bridge, which had once spanned the Big Sioux River just outside Castlewood in Hamlin County, South Dakota. The bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993 but not before it was bypassed by a low-water crossing. On GoogleMaps, one can only see the lally columns and the wing-walls but no truss structure. My question was “Where’s the Bridge?”

Many people thought the bridge was long gone, however…….

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The bridge is still alive and well- but in a new home! 🙂 ❤

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Jennifer Heath made a stop at the Threshing Grounds located outside Twin Brooks in Grant County and found the Thacher structure in use. Thanks to Don Morrison, who added the coordinates in my article from 20 February, she took a brief stop at the bridge a couple days ago to cofirm the bridge’s existence.

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According to the information posted on the sign, the bridge was re-erected at the site in 1998, which meant that it had been taken off its original piers at Castlewood prior to 1997 and moved to this site. The bridge still serves traffic and is one of key features of the Twin Brooks Threshing Show Grounds. Featuring historic buildings (relocated here), farm exhibitions and a flea market, the Grounds hosts the annual threshing show in August, featuring antique tractor pulls and other forms of entertainment. It’s unclear how long they’ve been hosting the event or what the motive behind purchasing this historic bridge was. However it is clear that this bridge is the second of three hybrid Thacher structures that was relocated to a historic town setting to be used for exhibits and entertainment. The Yellow Bank Church Bridge in Laq Qui Parle County, Minnesota made its home at the Little Log House Pioneer Village, south of Hastings in Dakota County, Minnesota, when it was relocated there in 1989 and serves as a replica of the city’s beloved Spiral Bridge. The Castlewood Bridge sits over the creek and on concrete shows; its decking appears to be concrete, which makes carrying tractors and trucks a possibility.

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While more information on the creation of the Grounds and the relocation of the bridge is needed (and will require a few e-mails and phone calls to find out -stay tuned), the bottom line is that the Castlewood Bridge has been found and is still serving traffic- 22 years after its relocation from its Big Sioux crossing. And it appears that with as much care as it has been taken, this bridge will remain a key ornament for the Grounds for many years and generations to come. For Twin Brooks, as well as Grant County and the state of South Dakota, it is a win-win situation, when someone preserves a key piece of history and uses it for a tourist attraction. 🙂

Which makes me wonder whether the Ellsworth Ranch Bridge in Emmet County, Iowa will be the next candidate to make such a move….. And if so, where to? 😉

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Many thanks to Jennifer Heath for the wonderful photos of the bridge and to Don Morrison for providing the coordinates. You can find the new bridge via bridgehunter.com here.

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 129: The Phantom Bridge at Moss Run

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In the second film from History in Your Backyard (HYB), we stay in Alleghany County, Virginia but look at one of six phantom bridges along the original route VA Hwy. 159. The highway was rerouted in 1928 leaving the original road, plus its bridges abandoned. The culvert found in this clip dates back to 1920. Satolli Glassmeyer explains more about this bridge and highway, but most importantly, the definition and characteristics of a “Phantom Road” and a “Phantom Bridge”

To view the bridges of Alleghany County and two of the bridge replacements on the present alignment of Hwy. 159, click here.

 

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 86

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This week’s Pic of the Week takes us to Iowa and to this bridge. The Thunder Bridge is one of two Pennsylvania through truss bridges that span the Little Sioux River in Spencer, Iowa. The bridge is the shorter of the two and also the younger, having a length of 164 feet and been built in 1905. Yet the two were built by the same company, the Clinton Bridge and Iron Works Company. They also have other commonality: the sound of rattling wooden planks when crossing it. In the car or even taken from an oblique angle like in this picture taken in 2011, one will hear it clearly. A video taken by another avid bridge fan and fisherman below will show you the sound taken from the car.

 

Currently the bridge is still open and if you want to get some photos, you can park at the nearby boat access next to the bridge. It’s highly unlikely that the bridge will close to traffic because only a few cars cross it daily. Furthermore, the street which the bridge carries makes a loop and ends a quarter mile to the west at the same highway, which makes truck deliveries easier. If anything, since Clay County has a few very unique but important artefacts, that Thunder will at the very most receive new wooden flooring in addition to the repairs of beams and the like, making it one of the classic examples of in-kind restoration, and one where the wheels will keep on rattling, just like in the pic with the US-Postal Service truck. A real treat if you visit Iowa and happen to pass by this place.

To see more of Iowa’s historic bridges, please visit the facebook website and like to follow. The link is available here.

 

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BHC Newsflyer: 21 February, 2020

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Millbrook Bridge in Illinois: Doomed

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To access the podcast, click onto this link: https://anchor.fm/jason-smith-bhc19/episodes/BHC-Newsflyer-21-February-2020-eb0bmf

Links:

Historic Millbrook Bridge to be torn down: https://www.kendallcountynow.com/2020/02/18/kendall-county-forest-preserve-commissioners-ok-millbrook-bridge-demolition-contract/a580lgd/

Five Bridges in Glauchau-Zwickau area to be reconstructed- detours planned:

Schlunzig Bridge

Closing of B-93 between Zwickau and Schneeberg

Historic Plaka Bridge restored: Link  here.

Theodor-Heuss-Bridge in Mainz Reopens but with restrictions: https://www.fnp.de/rhein-main-hessen/mainz-theodor-heuss-bruecke-reparatur-frueher-fertig-geplant-zr-13423755.html

Information on the bridge: Link here

The search for information on the Castlewood Bridge:  Link here.

BHC is collecting stories on Bizarre Encounters with People and Animals while bridgehunting/ photographing bridges:  Link  here

 

Important note:

There will be a pair of updates coming in the Chronicles Newsflyer regarding the Castlewood Bridge and another Thacher Truss span, the Okoboji Bridge, based on the most recent findings that occurred at the time if this podcast. Stay tuned. 🙂

 

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TYB- Most Bizzare Bridgehunting Encounters: Mosquitos

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This story is part of the series on Most Bizarre Bridgehunting Encounters with People and Animals. If you want to submit your stories, click here to find out how to do it. You will also find more stories in the comment section.

The best bridgehunters started out as novices and as a novice, you encounter the common variables that will stick to you as you go from bridge to bridge. This story came from Melissa Brand-Welch as she was just starting her career as a bridgehunter/photographer. Hers dealt with one common variable that all of us have dealt with- especially in the summer: Mosquitos!

These blood-sucking creatures can be found anywhere where there are tall weeds and lots of moisture. Not even the toughest insect repellent will phase them for they will consider it, an attraction. Not even repellent with lavender scent- a mistake I made in one bridgehunting adventure a decade ago. And to the person who is reading this: I still have the repellent and will instead use it on my next date with my wife. 😉

Here’s her story and the bridge where she encountered these pesky things with wings:

In October 2018, 4 days into my bridge hunting adventurers,  I took my granddaughter to Sigler Bridge. James Baughn found it and added it to bridgehunter.com. I wanted to add the first photos. We arrived around 7am and as soon as I saw the weeds I knew it was a mistake! We started towards the bridge; it was the longest mile of my life in thick, three foot high weeds. The river bank was swarming with mosquitoes. I took a few photos and we hiked back to the truck. Despite all of that, I was hooked. I went back to the same bridge later in the month after the field was cut and took some great photos. 

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Information on the Sigler Bridge can be found here: http://bridgehunter.com/il/white/sigler/

 

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Longest Bowstring Arch Bridge in the USA Removed

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The Kern Bowstring Arch Bridge to be dismantled and stored awaiting relocation to a new home.

MANKATO, MINNESOTA- It finally happened. After 147 years spanning the LeSueur River south of Mankato as the longest bowstring arch bridge in the US (and second longest in the world behind the Blackfriars Road Bridge in Canada), the Kern Bowstring Arch Bridge is off the river and awaiting for a new home.  Construction crews on Thursday lifted the 189-foot long bowstring arch bridge, in one piece, off its stone foundations and placed it in the field to the east of where it once stood.

One of the main obstacles that workers faced was the issues with the crumbling eastern abutment. “We were all kind of holding our breath,” said Lisa Bigham, state aid engineer for the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s District 7 in an interview with Minnesota Public Radio News. “It took a while to get everything kind of in place, the cranes to be positioned where they needed to be. Then, we were just kind of watching. And then, all of a sudden you could see air in between the bridge and the abutment. And it actually went very smoothly.” The eastern abutment had been coming apart, piece by piece in the past 5-10 years thanks to years of erosion and neglect, raising concerns across the board, from engineers and preservationists to even locals that the historic structure could potentially collapse. The structure had been closed to all traffic since 1989, with the township road having been abandoned. But nonetheless, the workers were satisfied with the lifting as it went smoothly as it could.

With the bridge standing in the nearby field, the wrought iron structure will be disassembled and stored in containers awaiting relocation for reuse as a bike and pedestrian crossing. Currently, MnDOT is soliciting proposals for reusing the bridge at a different location on a statewide level. “The pieces will be kept safe and dry,” Bigham said. “And so then whoever gets to take this bridge in the future, will be able to put the pieces back together and they’ll have a really cool bridge.”  Federal and state funding has been placed aside for the project, with some funding having already been collected prior to the move. Carlton Companies of Mankato bidded $595,660 for the move itself. Because many bridge parts may need to be sandblasted and/or repaired before being reassembled, the cost for completing the whole project, including rehabilitation and reassembly is still unknown. The bottom line is the bridge is out of the water and is safe on land. The question will be what the future will hold for the bridge. That will be answered in the coming months.

The Kern Bowstring Arch Bridge was built by the Wrought Iron Bridge Company in 1873, 15 years after the creation of the State of Minnesota. It was also known as the Yaeger Bridge, named after the nearby farm owned by George Yaeger. The structure is all wrought iron with pinned connections. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980, and the relocation project will not affect its status. The bridge is the last of its kind in Minnesota, even though dozens of them had existed mainly in the southern half of the state up until the 1970s. The bridge was closed to traffic in 1989 and was taken off the highway and bridge data bank in 2003. The structure has been the focus of literary works and also attempts to refurbish it for future use, all of whom had failed to date. This attempt came because of its historic significance and popularity among pontists and (bridge) photographers and locals familiar with the bridge and its enriched history. Since 2019, a facebook page on Relocating the Kern Bridge has been in use, where people can share ideas on how to reuse the bowstring arch structure, as well as photos, stories and the like. A link to the page is at the end of the article.

The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will keep you posted on the latest with the Kern Bridge and its future.

Links:

Bridge information:

bridgehunter.com: http://bridgehunter.com/mn/blue-earth/bh36213/

historicbridges.org: https://historicbridges.org/bridges/browser/?bridgebrowser=minnesota/kern/

 

Bridge Removal Project:

-MPR News: https://www.mprnews.org/story/2020/02/06/cranes-lift-historic-minnesota-bridge-from-its-crumbling-perch

-KEYC TV: https://www.keyc.com/2020/02/07/americas-longest-bowstring-arch-truss-bridge-removed-near-mankato/ 

 

facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Relocate-and-Restore-the-Historic-Kern-Bowstring-Arch-Bridge-in-Mankato-1257649057723433/?modal=admin_todo_tour

 

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