Roebling's Delaware Aqueduct
|Roebling's Delaware Aqueduct|
the restored bridge, in 2011
|Other name(s)||Roebling Bridge|
|Carries||Motor vehicles, pedestrians|
|Locale||Minisink Ford, New York to Lackawaxen, Pennsylvania|
|Maintained by||National Park Service|
|Total length||535 feet (175 m)|
Roebling's Delaware Aqueduct, also known as the Roebling Bridge, is the oldest existing wire suspension bridge in the United States. It runs 535 feet (175 meters) from Minisink Ford, New York, to Lackawaxen, Pennsylvania, over the Delaware River. Opening in 1849 as an aqueduct carrying water, and connecting two parts of the Delaware & Hudson Canal (D&H), it has since been converted to carry automotive traffic and pedestrians.
The bridge was begun in 1847 as one of four suspension aqueducts on the D&H Canal, a system of transportation connecting the coal fields of northeastern Pennsylvania with markets on the Hudson River. The canal opened in 1828, was enlarged after the 1840s, and closed in 1898.
Two important local industries with conflicting needs brought about construction of Roebling's Delaware and Lackawaxen Aqueducts: canal traffic and timber rafting. Since the mid-18th century, timber from the Delaware valley had been floated down the river to shipyards and industries in Trenton and Philadelphia. The D&H Canal's rope ferry crossing of the Delaware at Lackawaxen created a bottleneck, and there were numerous collisions with timber rafts headed downstream. In 1847, to alleviate both problems, the D&H Canal Company approved Russel F. Lord's plan to substitute two new aqueducts in place of the rope ferry.
After evaluating several options, Lord recommended designs submitted by John A. Roebling, who had already built a wire suspension aqueduct at Pittsburgh in 1845. To raise the canal enough to allow the passage of ice floes and river traffic, Lord's plan called for three locks to be built on the eastern side.
An immediate success, the Delaware Aqueduct — which cost $41,750 – and the Lackawaxen Aqueduct — which cost $18,650, and of which only the abutments remain – reduced canal travel time by one full day, saving thousands of dollars annually.
After the canal closed in 1898, the aqueduct was drained and converted into a vehicular bridge. Eventually, the canal sides and towpaths (walkways for those pulling barges) were removed. It operated as a toll bridge for wagons and, later, motor vehicles until 1979.
The National Park Service bought the bridge in 1980. The agency rebuilt the bridge's superstructure from Roebling's original plans and specification in 1986, and in 1995, the wooden icebreakers, towpaths and aqueduct walls were reconstructed, restoring the bridge's original appearance as an aqueduct. The bridge is now part of the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River.
- Roebling Suspension Bridge
- List of bridges documented by the Historic American Engineering Record in New York
- List of bridges documented by the Historic American Engineering Record in Pennsylvania
- List of crossings of the Delaware River
- Battle of Minisink (took place at a site near the New York end of the bridge)
- Zane Grey Museum (Lackawaxen, Pennsylvania), another feature of local historical interest nearby
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (August 2011)|
- This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the National Park Service.
- Zink, Clifford W. (2011). The Roebling Legacy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Landmark Publications. ISBN 978-0-615-42805-5.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Roebling's Delaware Aqueduct.|
- "Roebling's Delaware Aqueduct". National Park Service. Retrieved Apr 30, 2011.
- "1848 Delaware Aqueduct (Roebling Aqueduct)". Bridgemeister.com. Retrieved Apr 30, 2011.
- Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) No. PA-1, "Delaware & Hudson Canal, Delaware Aqueduct"
- HAER No. NY-205, "Delaware & Hudson Canal, Delaware Aqueduct Toll House"
- Delaware Aqueduct Bridge at Structurae