Our next Mystery Bridge takes us back to New York and features not only one bridge, but two. This came up on bridgehunter.com recently in a form of a post cardand features the two spans that cross a stream and a dam. The lower bridge featured a Howe pony truss span, most likely made of wood and used for pedestrian traffic. The upper bridge was a five span viaduct, built using stone piers with arches. Its decking was curved. It was a iron deck truss featuring Howe trusses that are subdivided.
The bridge was located on the former estate of motion picture Adolph Zukor. Zukor was born in Risce in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1873. He emigrated to New York in 1891 and after spending two years years working at a furrier, he started businesses selling fur products in Chicago and New York. In 1918, he bought property in New City in Rockland County from Lawrence Abraham (1872-1945), who had been the heir to the A & S Department Stores. The property had already featured a house and a nine-hole golf course; all in all, totalling 300 acres. It was here that the bridge had existed prior to Zukor’s purchase of the property, according to information by the Hudson Valley Ruins, which has a facebook page. Most likely the bridge must’ve been built made of iron before steel was introduced in bridge construction in the 1890s. Zukor later bought an additional 500 acres of land in 1920. There he built a night house, guest house, movie theater, locker room, greenhouses, garages, staff quarters and hired golf architect A.W. Tillinghast to build an 18-hole championship golf course. Today, Zukor’s estate is the private Paramount Country Club.
It was the same Zukor who founded the Famous Players Film Company in 1912, which after a merger with two other film and theater companies, eventually became the Paramount Pictures Corporation. Today, Paramount, now part of ViacomCBS, still produces motion pictures films from its studios in Hollywood. It has had a great track record with films such as Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Star Trek (in all forms and types), Waynes World, films with John Wayne (like True Grit) and its latest release, Sonic: The Hedgehog.
Zukor himself occupied the estate until 1956 when he sold the estate and moved to Los Angeles permanently. It was the same year his wife died. He had two children from this marriage: Eugene, who became an executive at Paramount, and Mildred, who was married to another motion picture icon, Marcus Loew, who founded Loew’s Theatres and the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film studio (MGM). He retired from the movie business in 1959 and lived out his days until his death at the age of 103 in 1976.
As far as the bridge is concerned, it is unknown what happened to it, except to say that in the picture at the beginning of this article is all that remains of the two bridges. The property was sold in two segments. The golf course portion was sold in 1948 and later became Paramount Country Club. The rest of the property including the mansion followed eight years later. It is possible that the bridge’s fate was met after the estate was sold, though we don’t know when that may have been the case.
Therefore, we have a big mystery to solve regarding this bridge. It is clear that the bridge existed before Zukor bought it with the property, which means we need to know who built the unique structure. Even more curious is the bridge’s fate at of after the time Zukor moved to California for good…..
This is where you come in. Good luck in the research. 🙂 Feel free to comment here or in the Hudson Valley Ruins facebook page which you can click here.
Please keep in mind that there will be a talk on the history of the Zukor Estate later this month. Info you will find on that page as well.
The 132nd mystery bridge takes us to Duchess County, New York and to the Hitchcock Estate near Millbrook. The estate was originally established through the purchase and consolidation of five farmsin 1889 by Charles Dieterich, a German entrepreneuer and acetylene gas mongul, who founded the Union Carbide Company in 1917. Addison Mizner designed the four-story 38-room mansion which Dieterich named “Daheim” (“Home”) in 1912. The mansion was characterized for being late-Victorian, interpreted for having Queen Anne style or Bavarian Baroque architecture by many critics. The mansion has turrets, verandas, and gardens, as well as large gatehouse, horse stables, and other outbuildings.The mansion changed hands many times before the Hitchcock Family (William, Thomas and Margaret (Peggy). It was later handed down to Timothy Leary, who was famous for the psychedelic movement in the 1960s. The complex has been sitting vacant for over four decades, yet it has a lot of surprises in terms of its history- not just in terms oft he architecture, but also oft he families who had owned Daheim.
And this takes us to one of the accessories of the Hitchcock Estate, the stone arch bridge. Geoff Hubbs found this postcard and posted it to bridgehunter.com recently, although another postcard with another view of the bridge can be found on eBay. It features a three-span stone arch bridge spanning a body of water that has long since been covered in soil and grass. It featured a guard house also made of stone. Judging by the angle of the bridge compared to the other postcards, the roadway and the arches seemed curved. The bridge has long since been removed but its missing history can be added to the mysteries that Daheim has in general.
When was the bridge built?
Who designed and constructed the bridge?
How long was it in service before it was torn down?
When was the bridge removed and why?
These bridge questions can be tied into the questions we have about the families that had owned the estate prior to ist abandonment, including their lifestyles, their backgrounds in business and the like, their role in the expansion and/or upkeep of the estate, etc. What we do know is a circumneutral bog lake (a spring fed calcareous body of water that usually supports the vegetation of both acidic bogs and calcareous marshes) was discovered by scientists in 2003 and efforts were being taken to preserve and restore it because of ist rarity. It is unknown how this is in direct relation with the estate and whether it plays a role in restoring the estate itself in the future. We do know that it belongs to one of the secrets that the Hitchcock Estate has to offer.
It’s doubtful that there is a connection between the Hitchcock Family and Alfred Hitchcock, the famous horror story producer. But we do know that the Hitchcock Estate- Daheim- would be a perfect scene for an Alfred Hitchcock film because of all the dirt it can dig up. The bridge itself is one of many examples of mysteries the estate has to offer……
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.
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.
So have a look at two sets of galleries and enjoy! 🙂
Hundreds of tour books, written in about three dozen languages have touted Niagara Falls as one of the 1000 places one has to see once in his lifetime. From the author’s point of view, even though the Falls area is one of the largest tourist traps in North America, maybe even the world, with thousands of souvenirs, restaurants and other main attractions, if one wants to see just the falls themselves, there are five ways to do it: 1. At level along the streets and boardwalks, 2. At night with the fireworks display, 3. Via boat tour which takes the person to the two falls, up close and personal, and 4. Via Skylon Tower on the Ontario side of the falls. And while a person can get a wonderful treat viewing the two falls- American and Horseshoe (the latter is the bigger one)- from Skylon, one can also get a treat viewing the Falls‘ bridges, which is the fifth way.
While one can get a picturesque view of the Rainbow Bridge while doing the boat tour, one can photograph all but four of the 20+ bridges from Skylon Tower, including the I-190 Bridge, which is 25 kilometers (12 miles) away and spans the Niagara River. However, to get to all of them, one needs the bike or the car. In some cases, they are reachable by foot. We did all five parts of the tour and got the bridges in the process. This tour guide will show you the bridges one really needs to see while enjoying the view of the Falls. It will feature a brief summary with a couple pics, plus a map showing where the bridges are located. More bridges can be found in the Chronicles‘ facebook and Instagram pages. In the end, the author can make some recommendations as to where a person can find these bridges with a Tour Guide hint to follow at the end of this tour guide.
We must keep in mind that the tour is focused solely on the Falls area. There are countless bridges along the Welland Canal area, but you can view them via Nathan Holth’s historicbridges.org website, which is here.
So without further ado, let’s have a look at the bridges, starting with the one closest to Lake Ontario going towards Erie.
Location: Niagara River at Interstate 190 (US) and Ontario Highway 405 (a.k.a Kingston Highway, Canada)
Bridge type: Rainbow deck arch
Built: 1962 by the Bethlehem Steel Company in Bethlehem, PA; designed by Waddel and Hadesty
Niagara Falls has four steel deck arches spanning the mighty river between Lakes Ontario and Erie and two of these rainbow deck arches, the bridge type characterized by the unhinged, ribbed arch span that supports the roadway going over it. The Lewiston-Queenston Bridge, which was built in 1962, is the youngest of the bridges in the region. With a total length of 1600 feet (479 meters) and the main span of 1000 feet (305 meters), the Lewiston-Kingston Bridge is the longest of the bridges in the region. It serves as the only US-Canadian crossing, where a person can head west into Canada. While both sides have border crossings and tax-free shops along the freeways, the best vantage point for this crossing is on the Ontario side, where there is parking along the street on the river side, just as the person is entering the freeway. This was where I got most of my photos. The bridge replaced an iron suspension bridge, which was located downstream and featured Town Lattice portals. More details can be found here. About 300 meters south of the bridge is the Floral Clock and Park, where one can get some beautiful shots in the spring and summer time, while having a picnic at the same time. However beware, there are costs for parking there, so have some cash with.
Even though the Aero Car is not a bridge per se, this overhead cable railway is considered a crossing, let alone a tourist attraction that one must see if one wants to visit the Whirlpool Rapids in person. The rapids is rather difficult to see from the street due to the high vegetation and because of the risk of drowning, any private boat traffic along the Niagara River and at the Falls themselves is prohibited by law. The exception is with the tour boats travelling up to the Falls. Instead of risking a massive fine of $10,000 or possible death by capsizing and drowning, one can pay $35-40 to ride the Aero Car for up to 15 minutes, getting pictures of the Rapids directly from below and perhaps the two railroad bridges pending on the weather. One can also see the Whirlpool Rapids State Park in the US side and the Robert Moses Power Station on the Canadian side. The concept was developed by Leonardo Torres Quevedo, who later founded the Niagara Spanish Aero Car Company Limited, which owns the 35-person cable car that goes 700 feet across the river.
Whirlpool Rapids Highway Bridge
Location: Niagara River near Whirlpool Rapids, carrying Bridge Avenue and Amtrak Railroad
Bridge type: Steel Deck Truss with Pratt Truss features; double-decking with railway on top and roadway at the bottom.
Built: 1899 by Pennsylvania Steel Company; designed by Leffert Buck of Canton, New York
The Whirlpool Rapids Highway Bridge one of two bridges located at the rapids and the second of three international crossings in the Niagara Falls region. Like with the Kingston, its predecessor was a suspension bridge that had been built 30+ years before. The Highway Bridge is the oldest of the bridges in the region, even though the railroad crossing next door to the south appears older but was built 30 years later. It is one of several bridges of its kind that was designed by Leffert L. Buck, who was credited for designing and building all but one bridge over the Niagara River, but was held accountable post humously for the collapse of the Honeymoon Bridge, which had been built in 1897 but collapsed in 1938. The Rainbow Bridge now occupies this spot. Buck was also credited for bridge building in the New York City area, including the Williamsburg Bridge over the East River, which was built in 1903. The bridge is measured at 790 feet (241 meters) in total, with the arch span being 550 feet (167 meters). It features a double-decker design, where the roadway is at the bottom and train traffic runs on top. Passenger trains also use this bridge and the Amtrak Railway Station is on the American side. Border controls are also found there, yet access to the bridge is rather restricted. While one can get some photos of the bridge from the Ontario side by foot, it is difficult to find a place to park if traveling by car or bike, as access is not possible unless on private property. Only motorized vehicles are allowed to cross the bridge, thus making it impossible to cross on foot unless risking being arrested. The Highway Bridge has been maintained really well, with a new paint job and other inspections and the like to keep the structure functionally sound, which can cause confusion because it appears younger than its railroad structure next door. Yet there is a reason behind that, as you will see in the next bridge profile.
Whirlpool Rapids Railroad Bridge
Location: Niagara River next to Whirlpool Rapids Highway Bridge, carrying CP Railroad (now abandoned)
Bridge Type: Steel deck arch with Pratt truss features
Built: 1925 by American Bridge Company of New York; designed by Leffert Buck and Olaf Hoff
The Whirlpool Rapids Railroad Bridge is similar to its neighbor to the north and has a history of its own. Its predecessor was a cantilever deck truss bridge with Whipple and Howe features and was one of the first of its kind in North America, having been built in 1883. Its current structure was based on a design created by Buck. However it was shelved after he died unexpectedly of apolexy in 1909. The design was later taken out and modified by Olaf Hoff (and associates William Perry Taylor and J.L. Delming), who contracted with American Bridge to build the structure alonside the cantilever span, which was later removed. The structure appears older than its age, but this has to do with the fact that the crossing has been abandoned since 2001. According to Nathan Holth, an agreement was made between Canadian Pacific Railroad and the City of Niagara Falls (Ontario) where the railroad and bridge would be abandoned as it ran through the tourist district and it was considered a safety concern and a nuisance. The railroad would keep the bridge but eventually remove it completely. As of the visit in 2018, the railroad bridge is still intact and there were no cranes or other vehicles on site that would indicate that there would be any removal activity. The bridge is barracaded with barbed wire to ensure no one climbs onto the bridge to cross it. One can still get some pics- even better, when standing between the two bridges. The bridge can also be seen from Skylon if one looks at it more closely. Yet beware that the days of the railroad bridge may be numbered and it could be removed sooner than later, unless a preservation party is willing to step in and claim responsibility for repurposing it for bikes and pedestrians. Until that happens, it is recommended to visit the structure while it is still standing.
The Whirlpool Rapids Bridges was built at the site where John Roebling’s first wire suspension bridge had been built. It was constructed in 1855 and featured a double-decking with the railroad going over the top; horse and buggy the bottom deck. It was dismantled after the Highway Bridge was completed in 1897, but not before having undergone an extensive rehabilitation 11 years before.
Rainbow Arch Bridge
Location: Niagara River at Roberts Street next to American Falls
Bridge Type: Steel deck arch with closed spandrel arch approaches
Built: 1941 replacing the Honeymoon Bridge
The Rainbow Arch Bridge is the most popular of the bridges in the Niagara Falls Region. It is one where attention is given by the tens of thousands of passers-by and tourists daily, whether it is on even level from the walkway, from the bottom while on a boat tour to the American and Horseshoe Falls, or from high up via Skylon Tower. The bridge is the centerpiece attraction which complements the two falls, day and night. The bridge is the oldest of the rainbow deck arches, but at 1444 feet (440 meters) and a main span of 950 feet (289 meters), it is the shorter of the two bridge spans of its kind. However, when viewing the bridge from a historical perspective, the bridge is the fourth one built at its present location. The first structure was a suspension bridge known as teh Falls View Bridge. It was built in 1867 at the site where the American Platform is located, but despite extensive rehabilitation in 1888 that featured the widening of the bridge deck, the suspension bridge, which had been built by Samuel Keefer, was blown down by a windstorm on January 9th, 1889. It was later rebuilt as a second suspension bridge, needing only 38 days until it was completed and reopened on May 7th, 1889. It didn’t last long, for another wind storm in January 1890 caused significant damage to the structure. Although it survived intact, workers came up with a new plan to replace the suspension bridge, which was the Honeymoon Bridge. Designed by Buck, Pencoyd Bridge and Construction built the superstructure in 1897 and featured a steel deck arch with grided pandrels, a Warren ribbed-arch main span and one bowstring deck arch approach span per side. The bridge remained in service until one tragic day on January 27th, 1938. There, an ice jam, combined with high winds, brought the structure down completely. Two people who were on the bridge at that time, barely escaped death by running across to the New York side. The collapse of the bridge was photographed by Frank O. Seed, which gained popularity. Because it was too dangerous to get out onto the river to remove the structure because of the high waves, wind and the high cliffs, the remnants of the Honeymoon Bridge remained on the icy river until April 13th of the same year, when it was moved down river by up to a mile and later sank to the bottom. None of the bridge has ever been recovered since then. Three years later, Waddel and Hardesty designed its replacement and Bethlehem Steel constructed the current bridge which has been in service since, carrying traffic between New York and Ontario. The bridge provides some great views and should a book ever be written about the bridges in the Niagara Falls region, it would definitely reach the front cover because of its popularity that coincides with that of the two falls themselves. The bridge is found everywhere on postcards and booklets on the Falls, but eventually, a book on the bridges will need to be considered as well.
William Rankine Power Generating Station Bridge
Location: Niagara Falls Outlet at the Power Generating Station on Niagara Parkway.
Type: Closed Spandrel Stone Arch Bridge (5-span)
Walking past the Horseshoe Falls, we have this bridge, a five-span stone arch bridge that is located next to the city’s power station. Both were built at the same time, and both were built with the purpose of directing part of the flow from the Niagara River to the power station, where it can produce energy via hydro-electric power. It is unknown who the bridge builder was, however, it is one of four bridges a person can find in the area, whose bridge type and aesthetics are the same. Even a smaller crossing along the sidewalk next to the top of Horseshoe Falls resemble a similar engineering artwork.
Luna Island Bridge
Location: Segment of Niagara Falls at American Falls between Luna Island and Tesla Monument
Bridge Type: Stone arch bridge (one span)
Built: between 1900 and 1905
The Luna Island Bridge is the shortest of the stone arch bridges in Niagara Falls, with a length of no more than 50 feet. It is the closest bridge to American Falls, which provides tourists with an up-close view of American Falls from the American shoreline. It does provide its lone access from Luna Island to the Niagara platform, which was built in 1961 and gives a person a view of both the American and the Horseshoe Falls from the American side. On the Canadian side, the bridge is sometimes difficult to photograph from the walkway along the Falls in the warmer seasons due to vegetation, but one can get a good shot from Skylon if zoomed in as far as the camera can allow for it.
Goat Island Bridges
Location: Niagara Falls on Goat Island Drive
Bridge Type: Stone Arch Bridge (each three spans)
Goat Island Bridge features a thoroughfare crossing that connects Goat Island and the city of Niagara Falls on the New York side, with an intermission going through Green Island. Each section has three spans but according to data, the total length of the entire structure with the island in between is between 180 and 200 feet. Originally, the bridge provided vehicular access, but as of present, access has been reduced to pedestrian and cyclar traffic. The structure can be seen from the Canadian side but also from the Skylon Tower. Yet, measures are being sought to replace both spans due to age and structural deterioration. But the procedure will not be easy. The American Falls will need to be shut down beforehand and all the water flow will need to be diverted through Horseshoe Falls. It would be a first since 1969, should both city governments as well as the Canadian government approve the measure. This measure would be use to rehabilitate the American Falls to reduce erosion, while at the same time, replace the Goat Island Bridges. If and when this will all happen remains open.
Grand Island Viaduct
Location: Niagara River at I-190 between Sandy Beach and Niagara Falls, New York
Bridge Type: Cantilever deck truss with Warren/Wichert truss features
Built: 1935; additional replica built in 1963
The Grand Island Viaduct is the easternmost bridge in the Niagara Falls area, as the bridge carries Interstate I-190 that connects Niagara Falls with Buffalo. The interstate bypasses the city before crossing the Niagara River the second time at Kingston and entering Canada. While the bridge is not visible on the ground, it can be seen clearly from Skylon Tower, if one has a camera that can zoom as far as what is shown in the picture.
There is a map where you can have a look at the location of the bridges and the places where you can get your best shots of the structures. From the author’s point of view, there are four places where you can get the best shots of the Falls, all of which from the Canadian side which you will be greeted by a crowd of thousands who will have the same idea. But still, with patience, you can get the best shots: on even level along the walkway from the Power Station to the Rainbow Arch, from Skylon Tower, while on a boat tour to Horseshoe Falls and lastly, by crossing the city’s finest bridges, as mentioned here. And while Niagara Falls is a “once-in-a-lifetime” event which one should really see, as a pontist, the bridges in the area are just as important, not only because of its location, but also because of their history. Which is why it would not be a surprise if a book on this topic will be on the shelves within five years after this tour guide is posted. 😉
The Gallery presented here is a fraction of what you can find on the Chronicles’ Facebook page. Click here and you will be directed to the Album, where you can enjoy not only the photos but comment on some of the bridges, including those not mentioned here. A link to some more interesting facts about the bridges in the area can be found here. 🙂
The Blenheim Covered Bridge in New York State is one of a few covered bridges that deserves attention because of its unique design. Built in 1855 by Nichols Montgomery Powers, the 232-foot long bridge is a Long through truss bridge with a single gable supporting double barrels. Even though the bridge was modified four times, the last being 1897, the wooden bridge remained in service until 1932 when it was bypassed by a newer bridge. It remained in place until it became victim of Hurricane Irene on 28 August 2011.
Seven years later and with the help of bridge building experts, planners and restorators, the Blenheim Covered Bridge is back in service after two years of a painstaking task to rebuild the structure from scratch. The American public TV provider PBS produced an episode from the NOVA series on this project entitled Operation: Bridge Rescue. There, the nearly hour-long documentary focuses on the reconstruction and relocation of the covered bridge to its final resting place where it can be used again after 87 years of no service. While a preview of the program can be seen here, a link to the entire program can be found at the end of the article. Enjoy the film and think of some other covered bridges that deserve to be reconstructed for reuse. You may have ideas yourself. 😉
This Bridge Photo of the Week keeps us at Niagara Falls but takes us north to the Whirlpool Rapids Bridges. They span the Niagara River south of the Rapids at the US/ Canada border. They are both deck arches with Pratt truss features. Yet the question is, ignoring the photo taken in black and white, which one is older, and which one is still open to traffic?
Before going further, I’ll let you debate over this. The answer will come when the tour guide on the bridges of the Niagara Falls comes out before the end of the year. 🙂