Old Blenheim Bridge

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Old Blenheim Bridge
BlenheimBridge HAER cropped.jpg
HAER photo in 2004
Coordinates 42°28′23″N 74°26′28″W / 42.473°N 74.441°W / 42.473; -74.441Coordinates: 42°28′23″N 74°26′28″W / 42.473°N 74.441°W / 42.473; -74.441
CarriesVehicles (1855–1936)
Pedestrians (1936–2011)
CrossesSchoharie Creek
LocaleNorth Blenheim, NY
Characteristics
Designdouble-barreled Long truss with center arch covered bridge[1][2]
Total length232 ft 0 in (70.7 m)[3]
Width26 ft 3 in (8.0 m)[3]
Height30 feet (9.1 m)[3]
Longest span210 feet (64 m)[3]
History
DesignerNichols M. Powers[4][3]
Opened1855[1]
CollapsedAugust 28, 2011
Old Blenheim Bridge
Old Blenheim Bridge is located in New York
Old Blenheim Bridge
LocationNorth Blenheim, NY
Coordinates42°28′19″N 74°26′31″W / 42.471847°N 74.441906°W / 42.471847; -74.441906
AreaSchoharie County
Built1854–1855
ArchitectNichols Montgomery Powers
NRHP reference #66000570
Significant dates
Added to NRHPOctober 15, 1966[5]
Designated NHLJanuary 29, 1964[6]
Delisted NHLJuly 21, 2015

Old Blenheim Bridge was a wooden covered bridge that spanned Schoharie Creek in North Blenheim, New York, United States. With an open span of 210 feet (64 m), it had the longest span of any surviving single-span covered bridge in the world. The Bridgeport Covered Bridge in Nevada County, California, is longer overall at 233 feet (71 m) but is argued to have a 208 feet (63 m) clear span.[1] The bridge, opened in 1855, was also one of the oldest of its type in the United States. It was destroyed by flooding resulting from Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. Rebuilding of the bridge commenced in 2017 and was completed in 2018.

History[edit]

Nichols Montgomery Powers[4][3] was brought in from Vermont to build the bridge by a group of local business men who formed the Blenheim Bridge Company for the purpose of constructing this bridge. The bridge opened in 1855, and remained in use for vehicles until 1932, when a steel truss bridge was constructed near-by. Since then, the bridge was maintained as a historic site open to pedestrians.[1] It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1964.[6][7]

On August 28, 2011, record flooding along the Schoharie Creek, due to Tropical Storm Irene, resulted in the bridge being washed away and completely destroyed.[8]

Longest bridge[edit]

Many sources simply claimed the Old Blenheim Bridge was the longest surviving single-span covered bridge, without getting into span-length vs. total-length. There are also sources that claim the Bridgeport Covered Bridge in California is longer. The New York Covered Bridge Society states that Blenheim bridge was 2 feet (0.61 m) longer than "a bridge in California" (presumably Bridgeport), in terms of clear span. Blenheim's clear span was originally 219 feet (67 m), according to this website.

A report by the U.S. Department of the Interior states that the Bridgeport Covered Bridge (HAER No. CA-41) has clear spans of 210 feet (64 m) on one side and 208 feet (63 m) on the other, while Blenheim Bridge (HAER No. NY-331) had a documented clear span of 210 feet (64 m) in the middle (1936 HABS drawings). In August 2003, measurements of post-repair Blenheim Bridge abutments were 209 feet 2 inches (63.75 m) on the upstream side, and 205 feet 6 inches (62.64 m) on the downstream side.[3]

Historically, the longest single-span covered bridge on record was Pennsylvania's McCall's Ferry Bridge with a claimed clear span of 360 feet (110 m) (built 1814–15, destroyed by ice jam 1817).[3]

Destruction[edit]

The bridge was destroyed on August 28, 2011, as a result of flooding from Tropical Storm Irene.

A witness saw its roof deposited onto a modern bridge just downstream, when the bridge was swept away at about 1 p.m. Over subsequent months, the Schoharie County Highway Department collected pieces of the bridge up to about 30 miles (48 km) downstream.[9]

On July 21, 2015, National Historic Landmark designation for the bridge was withdrawn and the property was delisted from the National Register of Historic Places.[10]

Replacement[edit]

A replacement for the bridge was built in 2017, exactly reproducing the design of the original. It was built to stand 15 feet (4.6 m) higher to avoid future floods.[11] Plans were for the bridge to "look and feel like it's the old bridge". Plans for replacement of the bridge took much time and effort; funding for reconstruction was at first opposed by FEMA, and the chair of a local committee characterized it as "a battle" to get approval.[12] The construction cost $6.7 million, funded 75 percent by FEMA and 25 percent by New York State; it was started in early 2017. Preserved pieces of the original bridge were included as a memorial.[13] The construction contract was advertised with bids due in October 2016 by the New York State's Governor's Office on Storm Recovery.[14] In 2018, PBS broadcast an episode of the Nova documentary TV series about the reconstruction.[15]

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Jackson, Donald C. (1988). Great American Bridges and Dams. Wiley. p. 140. ISBN 0-471-14385-5.
  2. ^ "Blenheim Bridge". Covered Bridges of the Northeast USA.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Bennett, Lola (2002). "Blenheim Bridge" (PDF). Historic American Engineering Record. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress. p. 1. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
  4. ^ a b Jeffords, Jim (Winter 2004). Common Ground, volume 9, number 4 (pdf). Washington, D.C.: National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. p. 2. ISSN 1087-9889. Retrieved May 30, 2010. In 1837, the people of Pittsford, Vermont, contracted 19-year-old Nichols Powers to build a bridge over Otter Creek.
  5. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. January 23, 2007.
  6. ^ a b "Blenheim Covered Bridge". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. September 18, 2007.
  7. ^ James Dillon (1974). "National Register of Historic Places Registration: Old Blenheim Bridge" (pdf). National Park Service. Cite journal requires |journal= (help) and Accompanying Photos, from 1974 (642 KB)
  8. ^ Eckholm, Erik (August 31, 2011). "Covered Bridges, Beloved Remnants of Another Era, Were Casualties, Too". The New York Times. Retrieved September 1, 2011.
  9. ^ http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Piece-by-piece-old-bridge-coming-home-3361382.php |title=Piece by piece, old bridge coming home |author=Bob Gardinier |date=February 25, 2012 |publisher=Albany Times Union
  10. ^ "Withdrawn Designations: Old Blenheim Bridge". National Park Service.
  11. ^ Reischel, Julia (September 18, 2015). "The Blenheim Covered Bridge will rise again". Watershed Post. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
  12. ^ Mitsopoulos, Patricia (June 29, 2016). "Blenheim Bridge Design Gets Approval". The Mountain Eagle. Columbia-Greene Media. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
  13. ^ Fitzsimmons, Daniel (June 30, 2016). "New Blenheim Bridge nearing approval". The Daily Gazette. Schenectady, NY. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
  14. ^ Old Blenheim with Old Blenheim Bridge Replacement
  15. ^ "Operation Bridge Rescue — NOVA | PBS". www.pbs.org. Retrieved October 4, 2018.

External links[edit]