Thursday, June 1, 2017

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

(Bridge Hunter, Historic Bridges, NicholsonHeritage; B&TSatellite (95 photos))

"Construction involved excavating all 11 bridge piers to bedrock 138 feet below ground. In total, excavation for the viaduct removed 13,318,000 cubic yards of material, more than half of that rock. Nearly half of the bulk of the bridge was underground, requiring the pouring of 167,000 cubic yards of concrete and the usage of 1,140 short tons of steel.  The new Tunkhannock Viaduct was dedicated on November 6, 1915. 7 8 It’s completion marked the opening of the Nicholson Cutoff. At the time of its construction, the bridge was the largest reinforced concrete railroad bridge ever built....The National Railway Historical Society noted the bridge as being the world’s largest concrete bridge in 1990." [B&T]

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]

Norfolk Southern Corp updated
Our photography winner for March is Cory Rusch. Since joining NS nearly five years ago, Cory, a conductor based in Buffalo, New York, has spent time running road trains, operating in local train service, and working in yard operations, too. Now covering territory ranging from Toledo, Ohio, to Binghamton, New York, and even occasionally venturing into Canada, Cory says the varying scenery is a highlight of his job as a conductor. “I like that it lets me mix it up and keep things exciting,” he says. “Going east to Binghamton is a quiet, scenic run through mountains and rivers. Over towards Toledo things are much busier with a lot of trains and interaction.” While not a family tradition, his career path was shaped by his own lifelong interest in trains and travel, as well as friends who had joined the railroad. “I always had an interest in the railroad and seeing new places,” Cory adds. “A lot of my friends had gone to work there, so I decided to give it a try. I’m enjoying it.”
Capturing his interest at age 11, photography developed into a hobby of choice for Cory, and he has collected an arsenal of cameras, equipment, and drones. One of those drones – a DJI Mavic, for those familiar with the technology – was called into action for his winning photograph – a mixed-freight NS train running over the Tunkhannock Creek Viaduct in Nicholson, Pennsylvania. “There’s nothing like that bridge,” Cory says. “That was something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but the problem with that line is that it only sees about one or two trains a day. I was in the area on my way home when I found out that one was coming, so I decided to wait and send up the drone. Fortunately, everything lined up and it worked out.”
[The comments indicate that NS has quite doing annual calendars.]

"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. 
Don Liotta posted
The construction of the DL&W Tunkhannock Creek Viaduct in Nicholson, PA in 1915. Watson Bunnell photo.
[I continues to amaze me about what they could build with wood.]

Gregg Obst posted
John Deere tractors share the scene with the 2,375 foot long, 240 foot tall Nicholson Viaduct, also known as the "Tunkhannock Creek Viaduct". It was the largest concrete structure in the world when completed in 1915 by the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad (DL&W). Photo made today [Aug 7, 2021].
David Beames: I've always wondered the economics of a structure like this when it seems a few s curves on each side of valley would do the job. Comments?
Dennis DeBruler
The original route for the Lackawanna did use a lot of curves and steep grades. This viaduct was part of the 39.6-mile Clarks Summit-Halstead Cutoff finished in 1915 to help get rid of all those curves and grades. The railroads made a lot of money in the early 20th Century.

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)

Paul Compoly posted
The Tunkhannock Creek Viaduct in Nicholson, Pennsylvania. Photo is courtesy of Josh Stull.

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."

Francis Otterbein posted three images with the comment:
Construction of the Tunkhannock Viaduct, 1911-1915, and a ground-level view of it, taken during the Erie Lackawanna era (circa 1960's), showing the structure's massive size as it looms over Tunkhannock Creek and the homes of Nicholson, Pennsylvania in Wyoming County.



Karl Rethwisch posted two photos with the comment: "At night or in the daylight, Tunkhannock is MAGNIFICENT !!!!"

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

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 pic 1992
John Goodwin commented on Stephen's posting

...a big bridge! - 4-8-4 #261 (Milwaukee Road)
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.]

Richard Bernardon posted
Sept. 2 2019 Nicholson viaduct

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.

Thomas Wentzel posted
Steamtown-Nicholson-Viaduct-Museum photo 2017

A closeup of a span as well as a steam locomotive.
Keith Kridenoff posted
The Tunkhannock Viaduct of the Lehigh Railroad on the day Big Boy 4012 was being delivered.
[This was when they moved it from Vermont to Scranton.]

Francis Otterbein posted
Tunkhannock Viaduct, Wyoming County, Pennsylvania
Also known as the Nicholson Bridge, it once carried the Erie Lackawanna and now carries the Norfolk Southern. Measuring 2,375 feet long and 240 feet high. It was the largest concrete structure in the world when completed in 1915, and still merited "the title of largest concrete bridge in America, if not the world" 50 years later.

Bob Nardone posted
Nicholson Bridge taken a few years ago. I'm the camera man (if you want to call me that) - my brother is the pilot. (three panels).
Bill Neill shared

Joe Scaglione III posted
Nicholson Viaduct
Joe Scaglione III shared
An engineering marvel
1 of 8 photos posted by Bridges & Tunnels
The massive Tunkhannock Viaduct carries the Norfolk Southern Railway over Tunkhannock Creek in Nicholson, Pennsylvania. At the time of its completion along the Nicholson Cutoff in 1915, the bridge was the largest reinforced concrete railroad bridge ever built. Check out more aerials and find out more about the Nicholson Cutoff and the Tunkhannock Viaduct:

Randall Hampton posted eight photos with the comment:
Tunkhannock Viaduct, the largest concrete and steel arch bridge in the world, Nicholson PA, north of Scranton.
Almost nobody knows about the Martins Creek Viaduct just a few miles to the north, smaller but similar in appearance. That's on my list for next time.









Randall commented on his post
Scale replica at Steamtown

safe_image for Roadtripping to the Imposing Tunkhannock Viaduct in Nicholson, PA

Peter Metrinko posted a RailPictures.Net photo of a holiday train on the viaduct were the viaduct is visible.

(new window)

The first part of this video is about this viaduct.
3:10 video

Rich Wilson posted 10 photos about and of the viaduct.

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