Thursday, June 1, 2017

CP/DL&W Viaduct over Tunkannock Creek at Nicholson, PA

(Bridge Hunter, Historic BridgesSatellite (95 photos))

This is the photo that motivated me to write this post. DL&W was the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad and was the owner in 1928. As far as I can determine, the ownership linage was CP/NS/Erie Lackawanna/DL&W.

HAER PA,66-NICH,1--2

 GENERAL ELEVATION VIEW, LOOKING NORTHWEST - Erie-Lackawanna Railroad, Tunkhannock Viaduct, Nicholson, Wyoming County, PA


Circa 1920 photo from Bridge Hunter
"Measuring 2,375 feet (724 m) long and towering 240 feet (73.15 m) when measured from the creek bed (300 feet (91.44 m) from bedrock), it was the largest concrete structure in the world when completed in 1915" [Wikipedia]
When the Lackawanna Railroad's 39.6-mile Clarks Summit-Halstead Cutoff in northeastern Pennsylvania was dedicated on Saturday, November 6, 1915, the 2,375-foot-long, 240-foot-high Tunkhannock Viaduct stood at its west end. The total excavation for the cutoff had amounted to 13,318,000 cubic yards, more than half of that rock; into its substructures had gone 800,000 cubic yards of concrete. The Tunkhannock alone had required 1140 tons of steel, and 167,000 cubic yards of concrete containing 89,000 barrels or 1,093 carloads of cement. More than 50 years after its building, the Tunkhannock Viaduct still merits the title of largest concrete bridge in America, if not the world. [HAER]
"Concrete had not really been in use for bridge building all that long (mainly starting around 1900 [with the introduction of steel rods for reinforcement]), when this bridge was built in 1915." [HistoricBridges] And yet the concrete has remained good for over a century. In contrast, Historic Bridges reports that the concrete railings added in 1940 are already deteriorating.

The economic engine that made this cutoff possible was Anthracite coal in the Lackawanna Valley.
The clean, hot-burning fuel was perfect for running machines and building empires in the steam-dominated era. In fact, there was so much coal in the region that it could sustain 80% of the world’s fuel demands, ranging from heating to transportation, without the aid of any other source. 
Another revolutionary feature of the bridge was that it was designed to be 34 feet wide, allowing for north and south bound trains to pass simultaneously. This replaced the need to switch track connections in order to cross. That feature, coupled with reducing travel by 3.6 miles and eliminating 600 feet of unnecessary elevation, saved twenty minutes on the average passenger one-way train trip and an hour for freight deliveries to New York State.
The Nicholson Bridge was a part of the larger Clarks Summit-Hallstead Cutoff construction project devised by Henry Truesdale, who was looking for a way to shorten and straighten the railroad from Scranton to Binghamton, New York. Along with the Nicholson Bridge, a smaller replica, still huge by modern standards, was built nine miles north in the town of Kingsley, PA. This bridge is referred to as the Martin’s Creek Bridge, after the waterway over which it sits. Besides the two massive bridges, a 3,630-foot tunnel called the Nicholson Cutoff was built two rail miles south of Nicholson. The entire project was estimated to cost approximately $12,000 000, with the Nicholson Bridge itself accounting for $1,750,000. 
[PAbook2]
Update:
Gerard Geisler posted
Post card “ Nicholson Bridge on the Lackawanna Trail between Scranton, P.A. And Binghamton, N.Y.” Note the steam train on the bridge. From the style of the automobile in the picture I would guess this to be not too long after the bridge opened in 1915. Postcard from my collection, NFS.
Warren Burkholder posted
Tunkhannock Viaduct (Nicholson Bridge)
Karl Rethwisch posted two photos with the comment: "At night or in the daylight, Tunkhannock is MAGNIFICENT !!!!"
1

2
Hank Parker posted
The Tunkhannock Viaduct
Matt McClure So impressive in person, it is hard to capture in a photo. Even better was when the D&H ran right under the middle of the viaduct.
Alexander T Davidson posted
This is the Tunkhannock Viaduct Nicholson Pa built by the DL&W 1912-1915 Photo taken May 2014.

Alexander commented on his posting
another view opposite side


PressConnects
Construction work continues on the bridge's arches, around 1913. (Photo: Broome County Historical Society photo)
"As they approached the building of base piers for arches 5 and 6, they found quicksand....Finally, on Nov. 6, 1915, the structure was complete. The Tunkhannock Viaduct was 2,375 feet in length and 324 feet wide. It contained a total of 12 arches. Ten of those arches rise 180 feet across, and two are 100 feet across. The bridge is 240 feet above the level of the creek below, with an additional 60 feet of base below ground. The arches at each end are buried into the landfill surrounding the hillsides."
Stephen Phillips posted
Delaware Lackawanna & Western … a freight crosses the 2375 ft. Tunkhannock Viaduct , main line at Nicholson Pa. , 240 ft. above the valley floor …..William P.Price , photo … Aug.1952 Trains ...
Bev Smith commented on Stephen's posting
A magnificent, elegant achievement

Lawrence Wartenberg commented on Stephen's posting
 Indeed...unless you see it can never explain it...my pic 1992
John Goodwin commented on Stephen's posting

...a big bridge! - 4-8-4 #261 (Milwaukee Road)
Manage
Francis Otterbein posted
Tunkhannock Creek Viaduct (also known as the Nicholson Bridge) was built from 1912-1915 at Nicholson, Pa. It was built by the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad (DL&W), and is owned today by Norfolk Southern Railway. It is 2,375 feet long, 34 feet wide. It is 240 feet above stream level and 300 feet above bedrock with twelve arches. The viaduct is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
[A higher resolution copy than John's comment.]
Steamtown National Historic Site posted
Happy 103rd birthday to the Lackawanna Railroad's bridge in Nicholson, PA, about 20 miles north of Scranton. Through the past century, this Tunkhannock Creek Viaduct has been feared to be destroyed by enemy spies during World War II, and it was out of service for a few years while Conrail was closing some of the less productive routes. The current owner, Norfolk Southern Railway, is keeping this concrete viaduct very busy the last few years.


Rich Wilson posted 10 photos about and of the viaduct.

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