Mystery Bridge Nr. 136: A Bridge at the Mansion of a Motion Picture Tycoon

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Photo courtesy of Rob Yasinac/ Hudson Valley Ruins

BHC Mystery Bridge

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.

 

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 88 (Guessing Quiz)

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BHC FORUM

The 88th Pic of the Week takes us to Paris and to this viaduct, photographed in 1999. The viaduct is double-deckered, as seen in this picture taken from the bottom half with a tunnel view. There are people using the center aisle the outer lanes being used for cars and the like at that time.

The question is: Where in Paris is this located?  Post your comments here and on the Chronicles’ facebook page. The answer will come next week.

Good luck! 🙂

 

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Mystery Bridge 111: A Valley Bridge that used to serve a Major Highway

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Photographer Nicolas Beauchamp and other bridge enthusiasts need your help in solving this case. This towering viaduct, which features a deck plate girder bridge, supported by A-framed towers, was found recently by accident. Given its age and the number of years it has been sitting abandoned, the viaduct appears to be between 90 and 100 years old, and it features a pair of finial towers at the center of the bridge deck. Given the density of the forest, one needs to narrow down the location of the bridge to the western half of the US. As there is speculation that the bridge used to go along the Mother Highway US 66, this means that somewhere in Oklahoma, New Mexico or eastern California was where this bridge was located. It is possible that because of its narrowness, it may have been the first highway crossing before it was relocated on a different alignment, where the newer highway was wider and had two-lanes accommodating traffic. One cannot even rule out the possibility that prior to it becoming a highway crossing, it used to serve rail traffic, providing train service to southern California from an unknown destination in the East.

So let’s summarize what we know:

1. The bridge is a viaduct featuring a steel girder (three spans) supported by A-frame concrete towers spanning a deep valley

2. The viaduct is around a century old

3. The viaduct may have been a railroad crossing before becoming a highway one.

4. The bridge may have been part of a major highway before it was rendered functionally obsolete. Many claim that it was part of US Hwy. 66 but other highways may have played a role.

5. The bridge is located in southwestern US- if confirmed with the Route 66 theory, then it is located in Oklahoma, New Mexico or California. Arizona has mostly desert regions with little trees, making its location more unlikely.

 

What do we need to know?

1. Where exactly is the bridge located?

2. When was it exactly built and who was the bridge builder?

3. If it used to serve a railroad and/or main highway, which routes were they?

We have to keep in mind that despite state aid highways having existed since the turn of the century in general, the US highway system was introduced in 1926, the same year that US 66 was designated as a highway connecting Chicago with Los Angeles via St. Louis, Tulsa and Santa Fe.

What do you know about this bridge?  Provide your comments here as well as in the Chronicles’ social media pages. Whatever information is useful will be added here.

And as for the photo taken by Mr. Beauchamp, many thanks and the bridge does have a nice green background to it. 🙂

 

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Newsflyer: 20 January, 2015

Bridge collapses in Ohio- one dead, Bridge in Kansas City demolished, Two Arkansas bridges coming out, also one in Missouri.

Could we see a repeat of 2013? Judging by the number of bridges being demolished or being scheduled to be demolished, it seems that 2015 is reverting back to the days where the draconian mentality of replacing instead of fixing at the expense of tax payers is the norm. Yet, despite the massacre of over a dozen bridges at the beginning of 2013 and more throughout the year, the number of bridges scheduled to come out are much fewer. But some of the bridges that are targeted for demolition are the same ones that are being fought by preservationists to save them because of their historic value. With the collapse of an old Interstate bridge in Ohio last night though, that might provide a knee-jerk reaction among politicians and engineers to override the protests, as seen with the Linz Railroad Bridge in Austria. With more on that, here are the headlines:

Interstate Bridge in Cincinnati (Ohio) collapses- one dead.

CINCINNATI- Spanning Hopple Street carrying northbound Interstate 75, the 1960s style bridge was scheduled to be demolished after the new bridge opened to traffic weeks ago, and workers were already prepping the old structure to be removed from service. Little did they realized is that the bridge itself found its way to the dumpster earlier than expected. The structure collapsed at 10:30pm last night, as the main span dropped onto the street below, crushing everything like pancakes. A construction worker on the bridge was killed in the collapse. A truck driver going towards the bridge on Hopple Street slammed on the brakes as it collapsed, missing him by inches. The front of the semi truck sustained extensive damage but the driver survived with only minor injuries. According to Jeffrey Blackwell of the Cincinnati Police Department, it was a matter of just seconds, “and his fate would have been different.”   The collapse the bridge triggered the shutdown of the entire freeway, which will take days while crews clean-up the disaster. While there were no reports of any structural shortcomings with the bridge, investigations are being undertaken to determine how the bridge collapsed in the first place.  More on the article and photos of the collapse can be found via link here.

 

War Eagle Bridge in Danger!

BENTON COUNTY, ARKANSAS- Spanning War Eagle Creek in Benton County, Arkansas, this 1907 structure built by Illinois Steel, features a Parker through truss main span, three Waddel A-frame pony approaches made from scrap metal and another steel beam approach, making the bridge 183 feet long. The bridge was rehabilitated in 2010 at a cost of $600,000. Now the county is looking into options with the bridge, claiming that the bridge has problems worth $1.8 million. The options are to either make the repairs and leave the bridge open to traffic or replace the bridge on a new alignment, but keep the truss span in tact for pedestrian use. Both the bridge and its adjacent mill are considered historic landmarks by the National Register, but the bridge is only open for light vehicles only. How the future of this bridge will pan out remains to be seen. More information will follow on the Chronicles.

 

Eldorado Viaduct to be demolished

EL DORADO, ARKANSAS- There is something special about this bridge, spanning the railroad yard, spanning Hillsboro Street in El Dorado. The bridge was built in 1935 by Fred Luttjohann, a local engineer from Topeka, Kansas, and features an arch span, several T-beam spans, concrete ballustrades and a length of over 980 feet. A candidate for the National Register, this bridge is loved by many in the city. Yet the city council has voted to demolish the structure in favor of its replacement. Construction of the bridge is scheduled to take place in the summer. For more on the bridge and to view the pictures, please click here.

 

Fairfax Bridge demolished. Replacement bridge to come.

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI- The Chronicles did a report last fall about the replacement of the Fairfax and Platte Purchase Bridges, spanning the Missouri River carrying US Hwy. 69 between Kansas and Missouri. The plan of merging two separate bridges into one large six-lane bridge by 2016 moved forward on Friday, when the 1935 truss bridge that had once carried the southbound portion of the highway imploded, sending the bridge’s spans into the water. Crews are in the process of removing the bridge remains from the river, cutting up the parts for scrap. Once completed, the new span will be constructed. The 1957 Platte Purchase Bridge will be demolished towards the beginning of next year, once the new southbound portion opens to traffic. Photos of the Fairfax Bridge demolition can be found here.

New Chain of Rocks Bridge to be demolished.

GRANITE CITY, ILLINOIS- Built in 1963, the twin cantilever Warren through truss spans once carried the Chain of Rocks Canal (the canal arm of the Mississippi River) east of St. Louis, carrying I-270 that surrounds the metropolis. Micheal Dean used one of the photos taken by the author for his 2012 album, which fits to his style of music. Now this bridge will soon become a distant memory. After the completion of the concrete spans in December, the twin cantilever bridges will come down beginning January 20th. The process is expected to last through the end of February.

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Kansas historic bridge estranged by county officials, Fitch receives new bridge, Viaduct in Indiana demolished, Vertical Bridge on US 1 to come down soon

There is a small informal trend that was started on the Bridgehunter.com website a couple years ago, where a historic bridge that was replaced or torn down would receive the Little Brown Barf Bag because of the senseless excuses for tearing them down to begin with. It is unknown how often the LBBB has been used this year (or who has used them), and most importantly whether the supplier has any left in stock, but the regular customers may have to find an alternative if there’s none left, especially as we have some bridges in this Newsflyer that are target for the wrecking ball. One of them has a new bridge in place, and while bridge fans have been finding the next available restrooms, others are shaking their heads and asking “Why this bridge? It’s really ugly!”  Here are the bridges making the Newsflyer:

Stranger Creek Bridge demolished despite its pristine condition.

Located southeast of Tonganoxie in Leavenworth County, this elegant Pratt through truss bridge with M-frame portal bracings is one of the tallest bridges in the county and one that can be seen along the Kansas Turnpike (I-70). That will no longer be the case by the middle of this week, as crews are working to demolish the bridge as it is rendered useless because of another crossing on Metro Avenue, located north of the bridge. No replacement is being planned for this structure. The bridge was closed to traffic in April even though when looking at the photos here, the structure seems to be in great condition. Why Leavenworth County spent $150,000 to remove this bridge is beyond the logic of many who think that money would best be spent for other projects or at least converting this bridge into a recreational area with the county conservation board owning it. However, given the plan by the county to replace as many as 20 bridges in the next few years, this estranged behavior towards historic bridges makes sense. Word of advice to those travelling through the county, take a half day to visit the remaining bridges, including those along Stranger Creek where this bridge used to be located, for they will be gone soon.

Fitch receives new bridge, much to the dismay of many

“You guys can have your bridge!” as many have said about this bridge near Lowell, Massachusetts. As reported a few months ago, Fitch’s Bridge was removed after being abandoned for over 40 years, leaving the bridge to decay with nature. Without looking at options for rehabilitating the bridge, the city and park district opted to remove and dismantle the bridge with the usage of cranes and welders and replace it with a half-pony/half deck truss bridge that is of Pratt design. Have a look at the photos here and judge it for yourself. The choice is questionable to many who believe a replica of the 1899 bridge would have been the more logical choice, but if the majority favor a mail-order welded truss bridge, then what can a man do but shake his head and ask why…

Viaduct in Indiana removed

Located north of Owasco over Wildcat Creek in Caroll County, the Owasco Viaduct, built in 1893 and served the Chicago-Indianapolis line until its abandonment in 1992, was one of the longest bridges in the state as well as along the line, with a total span of 1278 feet. Yet flooding in 2004 caused one of the piers to shift more than 10 feet over, making the deck plate girder trestle look like the letter ‘S’ instead of being a straight-line bridge. Many people were fearing that the viaduct would not last long afterwards. It stood for nine years until more recently when the demolition crew finally took the bridge down for safety purposes. Says Tony Dillion, who is one of the experts on Indiana’s historic bridges, “Surprised it stood as long as it did.” More on this bridge can be found here.

Three Maine Bridges to be replaced or removed.

This state used to have a large number of historic bridges, just as many as New Hampshire and Vermont, Maine that is. Now the state has joined the race with its western neighbor and Pennsylvania to see how many historic bridges can be demolished to cut costs, for two of its bridges will be replaced and another one, a double decker bridge will have its bottom deck removed. With the Waldo-Hancock and Memorial Bridges gone, the state is on track to being the state with the worst track record regarding historic bridge preservation, with the exception of New Hampshire. Here are the bridges highlighted below:

Sarah Mildred Long Bridge:

Located over the Piscataqua River on US Hwy. 1 in Portsmouth, the vertical lift bridge was one of two located in the region before the Memorial Bridge was torn down, yet it featured a deck truss with a highway span on top and the railroad span at the bottom of the truss. Yet, despite being built in 1940, both Maine and New Hampshire are competing for a grant to proceed with the demolition and replacement of this unique truss bridge. How unique is it? Its lower deck can be slid inwards to allow ships to pass through in addition to the 227 foot long vertical lift span (the bridge has a total length of 2800 feet). Yet as this bridge is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, even if the two states obtain the TIGER Grant, construction would have to wait until the environmental and cultural impact surveys are carried out. A long battle is in the making to save this bridge under the war cry “Remember the Memorial!” More information can be found here.

Cassidy Point Bridge to become a railroad grade

While this bridge is 43 feet long and carries Danforth Street in Portland, it spans a railroad and owners of the line want the bridge removed. Not to worry. MaineDOT can help you, but it will come at the dismay of car drivers who will have to wait for long 3-mile long trains carrying double-decker coaches and wagons for many minutes. That is the general plan at the moment as the railroad plans to increase traffic on its line through Portland and the bridge to them is a burden to their plan. It is unknown when the project will start but word has it that it will begin soon. More information here.

Androscoggin River Railroad Bridge in Brunswick

Spanning the Androscoggin River in Brunswick, this two-span Baltimore through truss bridge, built in 1909, carrys rail traffic through the city on the top deck, but local traffic on the bottom deck, which is supported by a set of Warren trusses with pin-connections. Going by the name Free Black Bridge, the Pennsylvania Bridge Company structure made the news as Maine DOT, in cooperation with the bridge’s owner, Maine Central Railroad, plans to remove the road deck while leaving the rail truss in use. It is not surprising of the action, for despite the road deck seeing 6-7 cars a day, MaineDOT does not want to have another liability in their hands, which justifies this action.

Free Black Bridge in Brunswick, Maine. Photo taken by HABS-HAER

Registration for Historic Bridge Weekend due 15 July

For those wanting to register for the evening dinners and Kate Shelley tour portions of the 2013 Historic Bridge Weekend in eastern Iowa, you have another week until registration comes to a close. You can register for the HB Weekend via facebook or contact Jason Smith at the Chronicles as flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com. You can also contact him if you want to join the bridgehunting tour only or if you have any questions pertaining to the HB Weekend between now and 31st July.

 

 

 

Ohio Covered Bridge Destroyed by Arson- Arsonist being sought

 

 

 

 

 

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Spanning Raccoon Creek on Covered Bridge, four miles southwest of Wilkesville in Vinton County, the Ponn Humpback Covered Bridge was one of the biggest tourist attractions of the six covered bridges. At 180 feet, the multiple-span kingpost truss bridge was the longest that existed in the county, built in 1874 by Martin McGrath and Lyman Wells and was bypassed by a pony truss bridge built in 2008, with the historic structure being converted into a pedestrian trail. Now the bridge is nothing but a memory.

Vinton County officials are looking for information and leads that will eventually result in the arrest and conviction of person(s) responsible for a fire, which destroyed the entire structure on 6 June. The reward is set at up to $5000.  According to county officials, the incident ocurred during the morning hours and the structure burned to the ground. The bridge, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is considered a total loss. It is unknown whether the bridge will be rebuilt or not, but county and state officials will look into those options.

Prior to the arson, suspicion of parties involving alcohol and campfires had been reported by many passers-by which included litter and beer cans. It was a question of time before a fire caught the covered bridge and brought it down. That day unfortunately came and now the county is grieving over the loss of an important structure which many people visited while passing through Vinton County.  This is the second fire this year that destroyed a historic bridge. A fire at a wooden viaduct in Texas last month destroyed the entire structure (a video can be found here).

If you have any information useful to the case, please contact the Vinton County Sheriff’s Office at: 740-592-5242    or the Ohio State Fire Marshal (which is overseeing the case) at: 1-800-579-2728    The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will keep you posted on the latest involving the bridge.

Links to the bridge can be found through the Bridgehunter website by clicking on here.

Doug Chapman and Bill Eichenberger have provided some pictures of the bridge before and after the fire, which you can see here:

The Bridge before a pony truss bridge was built alongside it. Photo taken by Bill Eichenberger
The Humpback Bridge (right) and the truss bridge built in 2008 (left)  Photos taken by Doug Chapman

The bridge after the fire with the reward for arson sign.