Skip to main content

The Capital Region's Whipple Bridges

Squire Whipple is considered "the father of the iron truss bridge".  The civil-engineer's design for bowstring truss wrought and cast iron bridges revolutionized bridge building in the mid-19th century.  His 1847 book, "A Work on Bridge Building", is considered the "...first significant theoretical formula to calculate stresses in the articulated truss.' (1)

Most of Whipple's bridges were found along the Erie Canal as his bridge design replaced many older wooden structures.  Over time, Whipple's bridges could be found in single or multiple spans throughout Northeast and Midwest.

Whipple bowstring truss bridge at Vischer's Ferry. (Adam Prince - December 2006)
Four of Whipple's bowstring truss designs can be found in the Albany area of New York State.  The first was built and designed by Mr. Whipple and can be found off of Riverview Road in Vischer's Ferry.   The bridge was constructed in 1869 and crossed the enlarged Erie Canal at Sparkers.  Like many of the bridges built by Whipple or others using his design, this bridge was moved to Fonda in 1919.
The Whipple bridge connects to the Towpath Trail within the Vischer's Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve.  (Adam Prince - December 2006)
Squire Whipple was a graduate of Union College in Schenectady.  The former Sprakers and Fonda bridge would later be restored by students, faculty and friends of the college under the direction of Dr. Frank Griggs, Jr.  The bridge was moved to cross a remnant of the old canal at Vischer's Ferry in 1998.

Normanskill Farm Bridge. (Doug Kerr - December 2006)
A second Whipple bridge sits not far to the south in Albany County.  Located off of NY 443, the Normanskill Farm Bridge is a Whipple Bowstring design that was built by Simon de Graff.  Throughout the 1800's, many bridge builders would slightly modify Whipple's design in order to avoid paying royalties and patent fees to Mr. Whipple. (2)

The bridge was constructed in 1867 and moved to its current location in 1899.  The bridge is originally thought to have come from Schoharie County but it is not 100% certain.  This bridge was moved in order to carry the Albany and Delaware Turnpike over the Normanskill.  Today, the bridge serves as a pedestrian bridge that is occasionally used by vehicles near the site of the former Stevens Farm.

A third Albany area Whipple designed bridge is located on the campus of Union College.  It is part of a pedestrian walkway near the Achilles Rink.  A fourth Whipple bridge, the Shaw Bridge in Claverack is located in Columbia County and will hopefully be restored and returned to use for pedestrian traffic.  The Shaw Bridge is a rare double span bowstring truss and was constructed in 1870.  It is believed to be the only remaining double span Whipple Bowstring Truss in the country.

Sources:

Getting There:


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Interstate 238; the Interstate numbering abomination carved out of an otherwise mundane State Highway

How does one make an otherwise unremarkable stretch of State Highway the absolute bane of the road community?  Make a small portion of said State Highway into a Interstate Highway but one that retains it's completely out of grid State Highway number.  One such route does exist; California State Route 238 and it's better known segment Interstate 238.


CA 238/I-238 (I'll be referring to this highway frequently as Highway 238 for simplicity) including a relinquished segment in Hayward is a 16 mile "highway" starting at I-680 in Fremont which heads northwest to I-880 in San Leandro.  Only an approximately 2.1 mile segment of Highway 238 between I-580 and I-880 is part of the Interstate system.

The numbering oddity behind I-238 stems from the fact that California Legislatively does not allow numbering duplication.  In the eyes of the Legislature there is no difference between a State Highway, US Route and Interstate Highway.  That being the said all highways maintained…

Interstate 380

This past weekend I drove over twenty Californian highways with a good chunk of them being around the San Francisco Bay Area.   The first highway I attempted was Interstate 380 from San Francisco International Airport west to I-280.


I-380 is an approximately 1.7 mile freeway connecting from US 101 at San Francisco International Airport west to I-280.  The entire routing of I-380 is within San Mateo County and despite it's small size was conceived as a much larger route.

According to CAhighways.org the path of I-380 was first conceived as Legislative Route Number 229 in 1947 between US 101 Bypass west to US 101 in San Bruno.

CAhighways.org on LRN 229

LRN 229 was extended to CA 1 Pacifica in 1959 by the Legislature.  While LRN 229 in it's original form was too small display on State Highway Maps it does appear in full scope by the 1960 addition.

1960 State Highway Map

During the 1964 State Highway renumbering LRN 229 was reassigned as LRN 186 which is reflective on the State Hig…

The Cemetery inside the Interstate 85 Median

Near Gaffney, South Carolina between exits 95 and 96, Interstate 85 separates to allow for a wider median.  The reason - a small family cemetery that dates to the mid-1800s.  The Lipscomb-Sarratt or  Ross-Lipscomb cemetery is an example of the numerous small family burial plots that were found within many rural farms and plantations throughout the South during the 18th and 19th centuries.

The cemetery consists of at least 13 gravestones with six that still have legible markings.  Most of those buried passed away between 1850-1880.   The cemetery is also one of the oldest in Cherokee County.



How the cemetery came to exist in the middle of an increasingly busy Interstate 85 is an interesting story.  In the early 1950s, South Carolina moved US 29 onto a newly built a two lane express highway from the North Carolina State Line near Grover to northwest of Spartanburg.  At the time, the cemetery sat just to the new highway's south.  What is now the Southbound lanes of Interstate 85 car…