Newkirk Viaduct Monument

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Coordinates: 39°56′22″N 75°12′38″W / 39.939455°N 75.210619°W / 39.939455; -75.210619

Newkirk Viaduct Monument
Newkirk Viaduct Monument.jpg
2009 photo
Coordinates 39°56′22″N 75°12′38″W / 39.939455°N 75.210619°W / 39.939455; -75.210619
Location West Philadelphia
Designer Thomas Ustick Walter
Type obelisk
Material white marble
Width 5 feet
Height 14 feet
Completion date 1839
Dedicated to Matthew Newkirk
Moved to present location sometime after 1927[1]

The Newkirk Viaduct Monument was erected in 1839 in present-day Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad to mark the 1838 completion of the Newkirk Viaduct, also called the Gray's Ferry Bridge, over the Schuylkill River. The bridge completed the first direct rail line between Philadelphia and Baltimore, Maryland — tracks that closely paralled the King's Highway, the main land route to the southern states.

On Aug. 14, 1838, the PW&B board of directors decided to name the bridge after company president Matthew Newkirk (1794-1868), a Philadelphia business and civic leader, and to commission a monument at its west end. (Earlier in the year, the company gave Newkirk a silver plate worth $1,000 ($22,147 today[2]) to reward him for arranging the merger of four railroads that together built the Philadelphia-Baltimore line.)[3]

Designed by Thomas Ustick Walter,[4] who would go on to design the dome of the U.S. Capitol, the white marble monument consists of a 7-foot obelisk atop a 5-foot-square base inscribed with the names of the officials of the four companies.[5][6]

The monument was installed along the western approach to the bridge and surrounded by a low iron fence.[5] An 1895 account describes its location as "on a high bank in the angle formed by the junction of the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad and the Chester Branch of the Philadelphia and Reading Railway just below the western end of the Gray's Ferry Bridge."[7]

In 1872, the PW&B built a new mainline west of the Viaduct, and leased its old line to the Reading Railroad, which expanded the old track to a small railyard.[1] In 1900, an article about the Viaduct's replacement noted the monument, and said, "On account of its inaccessibility and the dense foliage, it is scarcely ever seen."[8]

It was moved to its current location, along a right-of-way first laid in 1872, at some point after 1927.[1]

Today, the monument is abandoned, in disrepair, and nearly forgotten. It sits on the north side of Amtrak's Northeast Corridor tracks just to the north of the 49th Street Bridge, visible from Amtrak trains and from SEPTA Regional Rail trains on the Airport Line and the Wilmington/Newark Line.[6]

Inscription[edit]

As transcribed by Wilson, the four sides of the monument and its base are inscribed as follows:[7]

Eastern face
Western face
Northern face
Southern face
Obelisk
PHILADELPHIA WILMINGTON AND BALTIMORE RAILROAD COMPANY

President
MATTHEW NEWKIRK

Vice President
JACOB J COHEN JR

Directors
Philadelphia. Matthew Newkirk, John Hemphill, John Connel,[9] Wm. D. Lewis. Wilmington. James Canby, James Price, David C. Wilson, James A. Bayard, William Chandler. Baltimore. J.J. Cohen Jr., Chas. F. Mayer, John McKim Jr.,[10] James Swan, W.A. Patterson. Delaware. Thomas Smith. Chester. Solicitor, Samuel Edwards.

Secretary,
JAMES WILSON WALLACE, WILLIAM P. BROBSON, Ass't.

Treasurer,
ALLAN THOMSON. AUBRY H. SMITH,[11] Ass't.

BALTIMORE AND PORT DEPOSIT RAILROAD COMPANY

President
LEWIS BRANTZ

Directors
Philadelphia. Matthew Newkirk. New York. Roswell L. Colt. Maryland. Chas. F. Mayer, J.J. Cohen Jr.,[3] John B. Howell, C.W. Karthouse, Fred'k Dawson, Henry Thomson, John C. Morton.

Secretary and Treasurer,
CHARLES H WINDER.

Engineer,
BENJAMIN H LATROBE.

Assistant Engineer,

HENRY R HAZELHURST.[12]

DELAWARE AND MARYLAND RAILROAD COMPANY.

President,
MATTHEW NEWKIRK.

Directors:
Wilmington. James Canby, James Price, Edward Tatnell,[13] Henry Whitely, Wm. Chandler, David Wilson, Mahlon Betts. Elkton. James Sewall, Josh. Richardson, Greenb'y Purnell, Secretary, Wm. P. Brobson. Treasurer, Allan Thomson.

Engineer,
WILLIAM STRICKLAND.

Assistant Engineer,

JAMES P. STABLER.

WILMINGTON AND SUSQUEHANNA RAILROAD COMPANY.

President,
JAMES CANBY.

Directors
Philadelphia. Matthew Newkirk, John Hemphill, Stephen Baldwin, Samuel Jaudon. Elkton. James Sewall. Baltimore. J.J. Cohen Jr. Wilmington, David C. Wilson, James Price, William Chandler, Edward Tatnell,[13] Joseph C. Gilpin, Mahlon Betts, Henry Whitely, Jas. A. Bayard.

Secretary,
WILLIAM P BROBSON.

Treasurer,
ALLAN THOMSON.

Engineer,
WILLIAM STRICKLAND.

Assistant Engineer,

JC TRAUTWINE.
Base

THE PHILADELPHIA WILMINGTON AND BALTIMORE RAILROAD COMPANY

Formed A.D. 1838 by the Union
of the several charters obtained from Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware.
Work commenced July 4, 1835.
Completed December 25, 1838.
Cost $4,000,000.

Railroad Contractors:
William Slater, John Ahern,
Beers & Hyde, Kennedy Lonergan

Superintendents:

Charles Lombaert, George Craig, Alfred Crawford[14]

NEWKIRK VIADUCT

Samuel H. Kneass, Engineer.
Alexander and Charles Provost, Stone Masons.
Uziel H. French, Bridge Carpenter.

NEWKIRK VIADUCT

Commenced July 4, 1837.
Completed December 25, 1838.
S.H. Kneass, Engineer.
Railroad from Philadelphia to Wilmington.

Herman J. Lombaert, Asst. Eng'r.[15]

External links[edit]

1856 Drawing
Monument as seen from tracks

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Peniston, Bradley (March 13, 2013). "Who Moved The Newkirk Viaduct Monument?". Hidden City Philadelphia. Retrieved March 15, 2013. 
  2. ^ Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  3. ^ a b "1838 (June 2004 Edition)". PRR CHRONOLOGY. The Pennsylvania Railroad Technical & Historical Society. June 2004. p. 2. Retrieved 23 July 2013. 
  4. ^ "Newkirk Viaduct". Philadelphia Architects and Buildings. The Athenaeum of Philadelphia. Retrieved 2013-06-10. 
  5. ^ a b Dare, Charles P (1856). Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore railroad guide: containing a description of the scenery, rivers, towns, villages, and objects of interest along the line of road; including historical sketches, legends 1. Fitzgibbon & Van Ness. p. 115. 
  6. ^ a b Baer, Christopher (2002-05-08). "Do You Wanna Know More?". Philadelphia Weekly. Retrieved 2009-06-06. 
  7. ^ a b Wilson, William Bender (1895). History of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company with Plan of Organization, Portraits of Officials and Biographical Sketches 1. Philadelphia: Henry T. Coates & Company. pp. 296–299. Retrieved November 25, 2012. 
  8. ^ "City's Fine New Bridge". Philadelphia. Philadelphia Record. August 12, 1900. p. 15. Retrieved September 25, 2013. 
  9. ^ The spelling of the last name seems to be in error; it should be "Connell". Minor, D.K. and George C. Schaeffer, editors (January 21, 1837). "Wilmington and Susquehanna Railroad Company". 132 Nassau Street, New York, New York. American Railroad Journal and Advocate for Internal Improvements. p. 34. Retrieved 18 August 2013. 
  10. ^ Jr. John McKim
  11. ^ Misspelled; it is spelled "Aubrey". Annual Report of the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Rail Road, 1838-40. Philadelphia: Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Rail Road Company. 1838–40. 
  12. ^ The last name is misspelled. It is "Hazlehurst". JHBL Family Genealogy
  13. ^ a b [sic] His last name was spelled "Tatnall"."Records of Vice President Henry Tatnall, 1897-1940 (bulk 1909-1940).". Hagley Museum and Library - Manuscripts and Archives Department. Worldcat. Retrieved October 1, 2013. 
  14. ^ Appointed Superintendent of Transportation for the Baltimore and Port Deposite on Jan. 26, 1837."1837 (June 2004 Edition)". PRR CHRONOLOGY. The Pennsylvania Railroad Technical & Historical Society. June 2004. Retrieved 21 March 2014. 
  15. ^ Son of superintendent Charles Lombaert. Later the assistant to Pennsylvania Railroad chief engineer Herman Haupt and ultimately a vice president of the PRR.