Search for a Wooden Bridge over the L&HR

Discussion of the L&HR and its predecessor the Warwick Valley Railroad for the period 1860-1976 at its inclusion with ConRail

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Search for a Wooden Bridge over the L&HR

Postby Dan Demeter » Mon Feb 13, 2012 1:11 pm

I am searching for any information, or pictures relating to a wooden bridge that used to span over the L&HR roughly halfway between G Tower and the 1 mile post just after the split from the Bel-Del. The bridge used to connect present day Foul Rift Road in White Township to Spring Street in Belvidere. I own the property on the Belvidere aproach side of the bridge, and can still see the abutment here. I believe it was removed 1930-31? I also believe it was removed by L&HR, not any County, Township, or Municipal road dept. Also, I was told by a local that it was removed due to a fatality.
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Re: Search for a Wooden Bridge over the L&HR

Postby Marty Feldner » Fri Feb 17, 2012 2:57 am

I got this from the Pennpilot website (and butchered it some); from 1938- the earliest aerial view there showing the area you're referring to. The dotted lines look to be possible alignments of the overpass you're talking about. Without doing some digging, I can't answer your questions of when, why, and by whom...

Paul- anything from you?
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Belvidere overpasses.JPG
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Re: Search for a Wooden Bridge over the L&HR

Postby Paul Miller » Fri Feb 17, 2012 8:38 pm

I'm on it!
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Re: Search for a Wooden Bridge over the L&HR

Postby Dan Demeter » Sat Feb 18, 2012 1:18 am

Marty,

That’s exactly where it used to be. The oldest aerial photo I could find from i-MapNJDEP was from 1930, but when I zoomed in close it became too grainy to actually see the bridge.


What I know:

My grandfather bought the property from Penn Central in ’78. I bought it from him in ’86. I have copy of an L&HR site survey (dated Feb 20, 1930) showing the “wooden Bridge” still in existence. Documentation from a White Township Planning Board meeting discussing the future removal of the bridge naming L&HR to remove the bridge (dated: March 1, 1930).


What I don’t know:

Who actually owned the bridge, State, County, Municipal, or L&HR?
What the bridge actually looked like.


What is rumored (RR lore?):

While building my house here a local family friend, named Earl Hoyt (now deceased), pointed to the area and told me that there was a covered wooden bridge there, and added it was removed after a person was decapitated while riding on top of a train car as it passed under the bridge. I plan to scan through the news paper articles to see if it made the papers.

The only other story I have heard about the bridge was from my neighbor (also now deceased). She was in her 80’s when I met her. She told me that she lived on this property her whole life, and when she was a little girl she would wander down under the bridge and play with the hobo’s all day. I spoke to her grandson the other day, he is also a railfan, and asked if he had any old pictures handed down from his grandmother that has the bridge in it, so he is going to look.

I honestly just want to see what the bridge looked like. I like the thought that the property I live on has RR history attached to it, and I want to know as much about it as I can.

Thank you,
Dan
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Re: Search for a Wooden Bridge over the L&HR

Postby Dan Demeter » Sat Feb 18, 2012 11:46 pm

Marty,

Here are some pictures I took of the bridge abutment. Two weeks ago Paul Miller came over to see for himself what is exactly is hidden here. At first glance the pictures have a jungle-like appearance making it very easy to pass right by the abutment, but as you stare at it each piece of cut stone starts to take shape and stand out so you can make out what looks like a stone wall.

I am tempted to clear the area of vines moss and brush in order to be able to see it better, but in doing so I don’t want it to become vulnerable. As it stands it goes un-noticed, and until I mentioned it, it has become forgotten. I included some pictures I took yesterday (2/17/12) so you can see it for yourself, although you may have to strain to see it.

Also, the road that was abandoned followed the blue dots on the aerial pic you attached.

Dan
Attachments
PIC_0059.JPG
Definite line where roadway transitioned to the bridge
PIC_0059.JPG (119.37 KiB) Viewed 6148 times
PIC_0067.JPG
River Road bridge abutment angle view
PIC_0067.JPG (114.34 KiB) Viewed 6148 times
PIC_0065.JPG
River Road bridge abutment
PIC_0065.JPG (117.28 KiB) Viewed 6148 times
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Re: Search for a Wooden Bridge over the L&HR

Postby Paul Miller » Sun Feb 19, 2012 1:38 pm

I may get some answers next week, in the meantime Dam, search those newspapers!
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Re: Search for a Wooden Bridge over the L&HR

Postby Marty Feldner » Fri Feb 24, 2012 1:05 am

Dan (and Paul)- I think I got lucky, and just made your search a little easier.

Was in the Warwick library this afternoon looking through local paper microfilms for something else (a fatal L&HR wreck at Craigville in 1925). I knew the year but didn't have a date with me, so had to scan the year's files. A headline in an October edition caught my eye- court verdicts in two cases against the L&HR. One was for the Craigville accident; the other for the widow of a trainman killed at Belvidere. Bingo! Scrolled back to the date cited...

May 11, 1925: Trainman Seeley Decker, 25, killed by his head striking overhead bridge near Belvidere NJ. His body was not discovered until the train stopped for water at Great Meadows, 15 miles north.

He was the head-end brakeman on the train, and he was found partly hanging off the engine tank (tender); the article doesn't specify which bridge, but this sounds like what you're looking for.

If nothing else, this gives you a starting point...
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Re: Search for a Wooden Bridge over the L&HR

Postby Dan Demeter » Fri Feb 24, 2012 9:14 am

Marty,

This definitely goes along with what I'm looking for. I started searching the paper archives from 1930 and was working my way back, which was taking a long time. This will direct my focus. Thank you for passing this along!

Also, I would like to say that I generally treat every ROW I walk as sacred ground. I would like to add my condolences to any and every surviving Decker family member, and will continue to conduct my search as reverently and with as much respect as possible.

Dan
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Re: Search for a Wooden Bridge over the L&HR

Postby Paul Miller » Fri Feb 24, 2012 9:18 am

that should help with my search tomorrow, though i doubt I'll find any pics. Dan, there should be a local paper from Belvidere on microfilm at Warren Library? this date should narrow all our searches. Good find Marty!!!
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Re: Search for a Wooden Bridge over the L&HR

Postby Paul Miller » Sat Feb 25, 2012 11:47 pm

So what I found out was this.....there were 2 overhead bridges near Belvidere...1 at Foul Rift, 1 at Roxburg (PRR) dating back to mid 1920's and earlier. There were many problems with these 2 bridges in that they had less overhead clearance than all of the other bridges on the LHR. This prevented certain freight shipments from travelling eastward from Easton to Maybrook. Around 1925 they were talking about eliminating the bridges and thus the crossings but this did not happen. By September 14th, 1925, the PRR had raised the bridge at Roxburg to 18' height clearance, and by August 4th, 1926, the LHR had raised the bridge at Foul Rift from 15' 9" to 18' height clearance. No mention was made of exactly where the Foul Rift bridge sat, but there was a new bridge built in 1928 carrying Greenwich Street to Phillipsburg-Belvidere Road. I'm wondering if the the old Spring Street Bridge to Foul Rift Road was torn down in lieu of the newer bridge? could be that's why they abandoned it. Earlier Sanborn maps do not show a road crossing over the LHR at Greenwich Street.I was able to confirm the date Marty found regarding the brakeman's accident, his hat was found at "the" overhead bridge in Belvidere. Also, Dan, BTW- I found out the last "G" Tower was 1086 feet northeast of the "G" cabin. This may help with the ruins you found if you can measure out the distance. I believe you are right in describing 3 different "G" structures!
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Re: Search for a Wooden Bridge over the L&HR

Postby Dan Demeter » Sun Feb 26, 2012 7:08 pm

Paul,

Looking at it on a time line I believe you are correct about the Greenwich St. Bridge. The accident involving brakeman Decker in 1925, more than likely led to the construction of the higher Greenwich St. Bridge followed by the removal of the Spring St. Bridge somewhere around the end of 1930, thus removing any future liability for the RR with that structure.

I was curious about the two bridges you mentioned, so I pinpointed the two locations online and then grabbed my camera and went out for an afternoon hike. The same reason was probably the demise of ALL of the bridges that fell under a certain height, which could have become a standard after having a few too many accidents related to the lower bridge heights. I was able to find both locations, which can be seen in the attached photos.

The bridge at Foul Rift is still in use. As I looked under the bridge, it is pretty clear that the old cut stone abutments were reused and made taller by adding cement spacers to gain the height desired. I measured the height of the bridge and got 18’6” from the top of the rails to the bottom of the steel girder sides of the bridge.

The bridge at the Roxburg location has been removed, but there are two gorgeous cut stone abutments still standing. Judging by the angles of the approaches on either side they may have added to the height here as well.

I went to the Warren County Library yesterday, but didn't give myself enough time before their closing for the day. What I did find was that some of the "local" papers stopped printing during the time period I am searching and then resumed at a later date. I'll try to get back over there this week.

As soon as I get a chance I will measure the distance for G Tower as well, thanks for providing the measurement.

Dan
Attachments
PIC_0027.JPG
Foul Rift Bridge abutment showing the spacers that were added to gain height.
PIC_0027.JPG (96.87 KiB) Viewed 5984 times
PIC_0028.JPG
Foul Rift Bridge
PIC_0028.JPG (105.07 KiB) Viewed 5984 times
PIC_0040.JPG
Roxburg Abutments
PIC_0040.JPG (117.52 KiB) Viewed 5984 times
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Re: Search for a Wooden Bridge over the L&HR

Postby Paul Miller » Mon Feb 27, 2012 12:30 pm

Dan, I think I was assuming that they raised the bridge on your property, not the Greenwich Street Bridge because I thought that it didn't exist in 1926 and was actually constructed for the first time in 1928. I figured the Greeenwich Street Bridge was gonna replace the old Spring Street covered bridge. Early maps of Belvidere showed no RR crossing at Greenwich Street, but your photo does hint that the bridge was raised. So there's still a little mystery left. I assumed the bridge on your property was Foul Rift, and the newer bridge on Greenwich was Belvidere proper. You definitely found the overhead in Roxburg, which I never ventured down to, and it was definitely owned by the PRR. So my assumption from the documentation was that the only bridge near Belvidere that was raised was Foul Rift on your property. I believe, unfortunately that the bridges were raised more for gaining higher freight than for saving lives. Whereabouts in relation to Foul Rift Road did you find the Roxburg abutments? good detective work BTW! I guess the next step we need to find out is was there a RR crossing early on at Greenwich Street.
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