A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

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A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

Postby 3rdrail » Sun Nov 28, 2010 12:50 am

Ever wonder what the gears looked like that lift the East Cambridge Viaduct's Draw Bridge's Leafs ? Here's a peek inside the Tower. The Tower has four levels and sits on a granite pier in the Charles River. I do not believe that the East Cambridge Viaduct Draw has been raised in quite a long time, whereas the Charles River Dam Road Draw has been more recently. This is the machinery that has existed since the ECV's beginning, constructed between 1907 and 1912. This machinery may have a destiny with "the past" very soon with the new construction, having given dependable service for almost one-hundred years:


Second Level Gear Room:
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Second Level Gear Room:
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Second Level Gear Room:
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Third Level (Existing track level)
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Third Level (Existing track level)
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Hand crank bypass, third level (existing track level)
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Re: A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

Postby tom18287 » Sun Nov 28, 2010 7:05 am

when was the last time that bridge was opened?
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Re: A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

Postby Ron Newman » Sun Nov 28, 2010 7:51 am

Will current road bridge construction affect this tower at all?
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Re: A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

Postby 3rdrail » Sun Nov 28, 2010 12:24 pm

Tom - I'm not sure anyone really knows. A poster on the Craigie Bridge (Charles River Dam Road Bridge) thread a while ago thought that it might be as long ago as 1925, when large masted schooners would go through the locks. The East Cambridge Viaduct, being higher, most likely has a longer dormant phase than does the Craigie.

Ron - I'm not sure about that one either. Now however, it's all owned by the Commonwealth with the M.D.C. and the M.B.T.A. all becoming part of state government, so it would seem to be a natural part of the reconditioning of the program, would it not ?

The East Cambridge Viaduct is not protected by law, such as if it were on the National Register of Historic Places (only the banks of the Charles, but the Charles River Dam Road is listed on the protected area's map as a end border) or a district protected by the Boston Landmarks Commission. Perhaps someone with more construction phase information can fill us in regarding the ECV's plans and if it is scheduled for reconstruction. I would hate to see it's appearance change as it is truely a Boston landmark.
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Re: A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

Postby ck4049 » Sun Nov 28, 2010 1:03 pm

I heard it was deactivated from being a drawbridge in the mid 1980s.
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Re: A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

Postby Adams_Umass_Boston » Sun Nov 28, 2010 1:26 pm

I have been reading the construction documents at work. As it stands, the drawbridge is not going to be worked on. Only the Craigie Bridge will be rehabbed with some pieces being replaced.
http://www.massdot.state.ma.us/charlesr ... ridge.html
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Re: A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

Postby 3rdrail » Sun Nov 28, 2010 2:12 pm

Thanks, Rob !

Image
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Re: A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

Postby 3rdrail » Sun Nov 28, 2010 6:22 pm

Here is some correspondance between the MBTA, Commonwealth, FTA, etc. off the internet regarding the project;

http://www.mbta.com/uploadedfiles/About ... art_11.pdf.
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Re: A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

Postby Ron Newman » Sun Nov 28, 2010 7:57 pm

Just to clarify an earlier point, the Craigie Dam Bridge itself, the one carrying the highway lanes, has never been 'dormant'. It has been opened on a nearly daily basis until the current construction, which required special permission from the Coast Guard to temporarily close this part of the river to boat traffic.
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Re: A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

Postby 3rdrail » Sun Nov 28, 2010 9:22 pm

Yes - two different draw bridges entirely. Different control towers, controls, draws, ROW- even different raises at the same time, with the Craigie raising more often and the ECV remaining flat due to the fact that the ECV is higher than the Craigie. I was pleased to read in these letters of correspondance that it sounds like "historic place" status may not be far away ! Aside from offering protection, it also requires maintenance to be in the same manner and style as the original. The ECV is a beauty and I do not know, off the top of my head, any other streetcar structure that is similiar.
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Re: A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

Postby jwhite07 » Sun Nov 28, 2010 10:49 pm

I wonder when the East Cambridge Viaduct drawbridge was last raised, or even was last capable of being raised? It had to have been many, many years ago now... Judging from the height, anything but exceptionally tall-masted "rich man's playthings" would easily fit under the Viaduct draw in closed position... of course the road drawbridge is another matter entirely, and I have seen that raised on many, many occasions.
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Re: A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

Postby 3rdrail » Sun Nov 28, 2010 11:35 pm

Somebody said 1925. I wouldn't be surprised. The only thing going through there that could possibly need an ECV raise would be either a yacht, as you suggest, or a schooner with a tall mast. The lock is only about 45 feet wide, or so at best, so nothing bigger than that could possibly come through. The smallest cruise ship has a beam (width) of over 100 feet. There's depth at the Harbor end, but as you go west it shallows up, so really only a boat could navigate the Charles.
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Re: A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

Postby Charliemta » Mon Nov 29, 2010 12:20 am

3rdrail wrote:
The East Cambridge Viaduct is not protected by law, such as if it were on the National Register of Historic Places (only the banks of the Charles, but the Charles River Dam Road is listed on the protected area's map as a end border) or a district protected by the Boston Landmarks Commission. Perhaps someone with more construction phase information can fill us in regarding the ECV's plans and if it is scheduled for reconstruction. I would hate to see it's appearance change as it is truely a Boston landmark.


I work in that field, and the viaduct and tower would be protected to an extent. Any structure that is even eligible to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places must be given special consideration when any project is planned which may affect it. The Massachusetts SHPPO site has info on that requirement. A proposed project has to justify any impact on a historical structure, which the Lechmere viaduct and tower definitely are. Alternatives which avoid impacts to the structure have to be sought out and implemented, unless it's physically impossible to do so. I see no reason why the tower and viaduct would have to be modified by the Craigie Bridge reconstruction, and I'm sure Massachusetts SHPPO would also think that way.

The Mass SHPPO site is http://www.sec.state.ma.us/mhc/mhcrevcom/revcomidx.htm
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Re: A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

Postby diburning » Mon Nov 29, 2010 1:01 am

Longfellow and the Harvard (Mass Ave) bridge are not drawbridges. The BU Bridge as well the the Grand Junction are also not drawbridges and are very low to the water. Because of these bridges, no boats taller than those bridges would have any good reason in passing the locks. I don't know the exact height of the viaduct or Longfellow, but the viaduct is the same height as Longfellow if not taller. With that said, theres no point in someone tall enough to justify opening the viaduct to pass it only to be stopped by Longfellow. (There really isn't anything in the area between Craigie and Longfellow where a tall ship would visit)
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Re: A peek inside East Cambridge Viaduct's Tower

Postby 3rdrail » Mon Nov 29, 2010 2:09 am

CharlieMTA - Yes, if you look at the 4th letter down of 6/9/09 on that link which I have in my post, seven posts above, you'll see that written out in an agreement. It looks like preperation is being made to register the ECV et al, as a landmark, and thus it has certain protection before the fact, as you mention.

diburning - Right after the Dam, there is the Museum of Science, an ideal spot for a rotating tall ship display to be had...but I'd be pretty impressed by any captain that could pilot through that lock. The water is still pretty deep there as it's just off Boston Harbor, but the channel is narrow and long. Even with tug guidance, both draws up, a bunch of tires, and no wind, I'd be amazed. The Dam wasn't designed for anything larger than small pleasure boats.

(It'd be one hell of a great staged photo though, huh ? The ECV leaves up - a tall ship passing through - and an old refurbished West End or BERy patiently waiting near the Tower !)
Last edited by 3rdrail on Mon Nov 29, 2010 2:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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