Wednesday, February 3, 2016

1931 Aban/C&O/PM Abt Trunnion over Black River in Port Huron, MI

(Bridge HunterHistoric BridgesSatelliteFacebook Community)

Friends of the PM Bridge

T. J. Gaffney commented on a post

Tom Carter posted
Here's Port Huron, Michigan's, historic Pere Marquette Railroad Bridge in September of 1965, first with it raised for boat passage on the Black River and the second with it lowered ready for an oncoming train. Both photos were taken by C&O electrician Dick Blakely when he was sent here from the Wyoming Yard to do some repair work for the bridge operation.
The Hugo Abt-engineered bascule bridge was built by the American Bridge Company in 1931, replacing an earlier swing bridge near where the Black  River flows into the St. Clair River. 1970 was the last year a train passed over this bridge, and it apparently has not been lowered in roughly 50 years. It remains a treasured Port Huron landmark and doubles as a beacon for boaters on the St. Clair River bound for the Black River entrance.
Unfortunately, the Port Huron Yacht Club purchased the property, and in March of 2012 they applied for a permit from the U.S. Army of Corps of Engineers to have the bridge torn down. A battle ensued between the townsfolk and the yacht club which continues to this day, a decade later. There's also a "Friends of the Pere Marquette Railroad Bridge" group fighting for its survival. Representatives from the yacht club are known to have said "If you wanted the bridge you should have bought the property when it was for sale" and "It's our bridge, we can do what we want with it." The Corps of Engineers have noted that there’s no deadline for a final decision on its future, and even if or when it is eventually approved it still has to go to the State Historic Preservation Office for their approval.
1965 Dick Blakely Photo
Friends of the Pere Marquette Railroad Bridge, Inc. posted

Friends of the Pere Marquette Railroad Bridge, Inc. posted
"...the Pere Marquette Railroad Bridge, also known as the Port Huron Railroad Bridge. This bridge was built in 1931 in order to span the mouth of the Black River to allow for a railroad, which has long since been removed, to traverse said river."

Tim Shanahan shared Kenneth Bailey's photo
Kenneth's comment:
The Pere Marquette Railroad Bridge in Port Huron, MI. It is an Abt Bascule Bridge based on a patent from Hugo A.F. Abt. It is one of two in Michigan and one of a few in the United States. I think it was abandoned as the line was abandoned due to discontinution of car ferries from Port Huron to Sarnia. I believe it's status is up in the air as the people that own the property want it gone and other people want to preserve it.
Built in 1930 and abandoned in 1970. Historic Bridges has a view of it closed and a diagram illustrating how this design works. Bridge Hunter has some diagrams of the bridge in different positions that also help figure out how the pinion and counterweight move as the back truss is pushed down to raise the track truss. It has a Facebook page because the yacht club that owns the land thinks it is an eye sore and that it should be torn down.

Frederick Buike this bridge was not connected to the tunnel or ferries. But a PH&NW line that went to Port Austin, MI. It was abandoned when it was easier to service the rails from Saginaw, MI. The north end is now at Kinde, the south end at Croswell. It is a locator. If it was removed, the week-end sailors would never find their way back to Port Huron! : )

David Cenci The PM/C&O/CSX ferry yard (locally known as the "Boat yard") was just to the south of the bridge. Trains had to pass through the yard to access the bridge and go north.The bridge has not seen service since the early 70's..and the yard was closed and removed in 2005. The line, between Croswell and Port Huron, came up in 2 stages..but was totally gone by 1975.

Andrew Van Dussen Here is a link to the others of this style in the US.

Friends of the Pere Marquette Railroad Bridge, Inc. posted

Great shot taken aboard the 1925-built freighter "Cedarglen" in 1983 by Marc Dease. You'll note our bridge prominent in the Port Huron skyline on the right hand side, as it has been for over 85 years.

See now the hole in our skyline its destruction would leave?
Frank Kovatch posted
Abandoned train bridge over Black River in Port Huron, MI.
Taken by Peter Thomas from a drone. Now owned by Port Huron Yacht Club who has an application with the Army Corp of Engineers to demolish it.
Tim Shanahan shared from Karen Marie's May 22, 2016
[One of six remaining bridges using Hugo Abt's 1921 patented design. It has been locked upright for 40 of its 86 years.]
Chuck Hildebrandt posted
An old railroad bridge
Port Huron, MI
Al Worrell posted
Pere Marquette “Abt bascule bridge” Port Huron MI, over Black River. Originally Pere Marquette, now Out Of Service.
Tony Randall posted
The old Train Bridge here in Port Huron,Michigan and to the left is where the Pilot Boat is docked until needed to run someone out to the Lake for a Ship.

Friends of the Pere Marquette Railroad Bridge, Inc. posted three photos with the comment: "The swing bridge at the mouth of Black river replaced by the present bascule bridge."
George Duffy Boy the riverfront was a dirty place. Pre canal I suppose. Interesting that the development along this section was all industrial saw mills etc.
Mark W Rummel The Henry McMorran Elevator in the photo center was massive for this era. It burned in a spectacular fire in 1909 (if I remember correctly...)

Dennis DeBruler It looks like PM had two ferry aprons in the left background.

Ed Weichsler I remember the Tenth Street bridge that was a turnstile bridge like the one in this image. Hard to believe, ships would actually sail down Black river to the Paper Company to unload, then BACK OUT all the way to the St Clair River.
Port Huron History had two comments on Ed's comment.
Actually they turned around and yes it was a tight turn.


Tim Alfson posted
Abandoned Pere Marquette RR bascule bridge at Port Huron, MI
Al Kresse There were only a dozen or so Abt-design Bascules built by Am Bridge Co. The newer Saginaw River bridge is similar.

Chuck Hildebrandt posted
Port Huron

Army Corps of Engineers is still scratching its head as to whether or not the yacht club can tear it down. The yacht club wants to tear it down to make an observation deck. Why not just build a deck on top of the bridge? It seems like it would be cheaper to put an elevator in the truss than tear it down and build another tower. And it would be higher than any observation deck they would build from scratch.

USACE ruled that they can tear it down after they document it.
safe_image for Port Huron Yacht Club has preliminary Train Bridge permit
Well, the Army Corps temporary permit has been issued to the PHYC.
The Friends of the Pere Marquette Railroad Bridge ultimately did part of what we wanted to do: show that the bridge could and should be saved, and that the PHYC had no clue as to the cost or community impact of the destruction of this historic community icon. Sadly, while the Corps has held the PHYC’s feet to the fire in regards to documenting the importance of the structure and honoring it on site, ultimately the fate remains in the membership ever declining and aging membership who we believe fails to truly grasp what their leadership has dragged them into. Bottom line - when even their current Commodore, one of the most respected sailors in the PHYC feels it’s a bad idea, that SHOULD tell them something.....but evidently has and will not until it hits their pocket books.
That said, we wish to thank everyone who has supported the cause of the bridge’s preservation over this past decade. With your help we succeeded in getting our case out, dispelling lies and half truths about its condition and importance, and thereby increasing the awareness of the importance in preserving our area’s collective industrial and transportation past. I wish to personally thank Nathan Holth, who first brought this rare example of the Abt bascule design to the public: Robert A Richards for the initial push and efforts to organize the petition of the thousands of folks from around the world who expressed their interest in seeing the bridge saved through social media; Marcia Haynes, Joe Ann Burgett, Cathe Bedard, Mike Delong, and the rest of our board for their untiring work to get the word out; Jim Acheson for his moral and financial support; and last by not least, those members of the Port Huron Yacht Club, not the least of which current commodore Pamela Wall, for having the guts to try and stand up and be heard against a group of individuals who put up road blocks to community input and refused from day one to engage the community on this subject. We are proud to have fought this battle with you.
And then, because they have money they travel to Europe, Greece, etc to view old structures. Here the fools just tear down anything that is historical and put up a piece of junk which won't last. Kudos to the current Commadore, boos to all the wealthy slugs who want to tear it down. It's a landmark, dullards!
[The yacht club bought the land about 10 years ago for expansion.]

David Daruszka shared with the comment: "Railroad history is more than just pictures of trains. It includes infrastructure."

SpellerWeb includes a photo of this bridge.

Debb Cook has an elevation view with a red sky behind it.

Feds open door to demolishing train bridge (source)

"The State Historic Preservation Office has terminated its role in figuring out the future of the Pere Marquette Railroad Bridge." [TheTimesHearald]

safe_image for Port Huron Yacht Club votes to demolish Pere Marquette Railroad Bridge

A new angle on the bridge.
Friends of the Pere Marquette Railroad Bridge, Inc. posted

T.J. Gaffney posted two photos with the comment: "This just in - PHYC reveals Adamos plan for demolition of the bridge:   Burn it down! 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣"
Lynne Ann Turney Zalenski: The PHYC has its own security, a club member, guy says he is a structural engineer, tried to stop local drones this morning claiming it was a “no fly” zone. Claimed the bridge is not historical, just junk they are getting of. What an attitude! 🤦‍♀️
Nathan Leindecker: Lynne Ann Turney Zalenski as long as the drones are being launched from a legal location. Such as Vantage Point the Yacht Club doesn’t have a leg to stand on. The only organization that has the ability to regulate airspace is the FAA.
Lynne Ann Turney Zalenski: Nathan Leindecker the drone pilot is well aware of this, had on his FAA drone pilot identification, tried to inform the PHYC security guy…
Friends of the Pere Marquette Railroad Bridge, Inc. shared with the comment: "So avoidable.    It’s very sad."


T.J. Gaffney commented on his post

I added the "crane" label to these notes.
2:02 video @ 0:05
"One of only seven Abt design bascule bridges left in North America."


  1. That train bridge needs to stay there my grandfather hauled rail boxes from Port Huron to Canada and that is history the yath club are just rich assholes they don't care about the old folks who had love ones that worked for shipping yard or the railroad this younger generation don't care about the history of the bridge and if u look at it tells you alot About Port Huron if it wasn't for the railroad and that bridge food, coal,fule lumber you would not of been a live today So think about that yath club when you talk about taking the railroad bridge down

  2. The yacht club has offered to sell the bridge to anyone that can afford it but that conversation suddenly ends when their money is at stake.