This is a traditional example of an Erie Canal fixed through truss has moved once and deserves to be preserved as part of the unique group of surviving New York State Barge canal era bridges. The group of bridges found on the New York State Barge (the early 20th century canal that replaced the original Erie Canal) constitutes one of the largest and most complete group of historic truss bridges in the entire country. Truss bridges once were common bridges
This bridge was built in an unknown previous location over the Erie Canal (New York State Barge Canal). It was moved to this location at an unknown date. Despite relocation, the bridge continued to be a part of the canal as it carried a towpath for the canal over Ellicott Creek. In the 1980s the bridge was closed to traffic and converted to pedestrian use. Although relocated, it retains association with the historic canal because it remained alongside the canal in its new location, and as such should be considered as contributing to the heritage of the canal itself, a National Register of Histroric Places listed resource.
This historic bridge is at risk for a senseless plan to demolish and replace the bridge with a modern non-historic pedestrian bridge! The only areas that have notable deterioration on the bridge appear to be the deck and flooring system. The actual historic truss remains in good condition. The better solution is to replace the bridge's deck and stringers, and retain this historic bridge for pedestrian use, in keeping with the history of the Erie Canal and the general surrounding area which is also rich in history, including the nearby Long Homestead Historical Museum. Would a mass produced factory pedestrian bridge look as nice next to a museum as this vintage piece of Erie Canal history? Certainly not! If costs are a concern the new deck could be made more narrow to reduce costs,
Dimensions given are estimates.
The Erie Canal is one of the most famous and historically significant canals in the United States. Aside from the widely recognized historical significance of the canal as a transportation facility itself, a lesser known fact is that the canal is historically significant for the bridges that have spanned the canal over the years. It was here on the Erie Canal where Squire Whipple found a place to successfully get his "Whipple Arch" bowstring truss bridges constructed in significant quantities in the mid-1800s. The success of his Whipple Arch bridges helped contribute to the nationwide transition from wooden bridges to metal bridges. The period of time from 1905-1918 where the Erie Canal was upgraded and widened to become part of the larger New York State Barge Canal was a time of change for the bridges of the canal. Between the process of widening and upgrading the canal, and the nationwide trend to build more substantial bridges in the early 20th Century, the previous generation of bridges (many undoubtedly those Whipple Arch bridges) were replaced by a series of new bridges. These bridges have proved to be very durable and thanks to a clear commitment to preservation on the part of New York State Department of Transportation and other agencies, the Erie Canal and the New York State Barge Canal system, particularly the western section from Lockport to Spencerport boasts one of the highest densities of historic bridges of any waterway in the country. The vast majority of bridges on this section are maintained in beautiful condition.
Although the new bridges from the early 20th Century took a variety of forms, two forms were by far the most common. In rural or spacious areas, a fixed double-intersection Warren through truss was used, with a dirt approach providing the modest elevation needed for a fixed bridge over the canal. Double-intersection Warren truss bridges are generally considered an uncommon truss type on a nationwide basis. In urban and less spacious areas, a vertical lift bridge was used. The vertical lift bridges are an unusual design. Instead of towers that rise above the bridge in a traditional vertical lift bridge and pull the truss span up using cables, these bridges have vertical endposts which extend below the deck and into the ground. When operated, these extended endposts (called the lifting frame) rise out of the ground. In an engineering sense, these unusual vertical lift bridges might be thought of as bedstead truss bridges. Another unique feature of these lift bridges are the stairways found at each end of the bridge on the sidewalks. These stairways allow pedestrians to continue to cross the bridge when the structure is in the raised position. These vertical lift bridges continue to operate for boats today, so observing these unique bridges remains possible.
Elsewhere, the New York State Barge Canal System boasts other types of historically significant bridges.
View National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form for the New York State Barge Canal (Alternate ZIP Version In Sections) - Note this impressive document contains modern color photos of the bridges, some from unique angles, historical photos showing bridge construction, and original plan sheets for some bridges too.
View a HistoricBridges.org photo gallery of the historical photos, modern photos, and original plans contained in the National Register Nomination. This photo gallery can also be found in the Fairport Bridge's page.
View Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) Index - Has a list of structures including bridges that were individually documented for HAER.
This bridge is tagged with the following special condition(s): Unorganized Photos
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