Thursday, March 31, 2022

1932,1984,2014 US-1+9 Pulaski Skyway Bridges over South Kearny, NJ

(Bridge Hunters; Historic Bridges; HAER)
Passic River: (3D Satellite)
Hackensack River: (3D Satellite)

"SIGNIFICANCE: The 'skyway' was built as part of the transcontinental Lincoln Highway and was among the first limited access 'super highways' in the United States." Construction was 1924-32. [HAER-data] I thought the Lincoln Highway became US-30, which goes to Philadelphia. Evidently the Lincoln Highway continued East using today's US-1 route. The original highway did go out of its way to go through major cities. For example, it originally left Fort Wayne using what is now US-33 to go through Goshen, Elkhart, South Bend, etc. The US-30 that we see today across Indiana was built as a cutoff.


The skyway consists of cantilever bridges over the Passiac and Hackensack Rivers and this viaduct over South Kearny that connects those two bridges.

The power generating stations that we see in the background of some of these photos were two Public Service Electric & Gas generating stations.

This is the cantilever bridge over the Hackensack River.

This diagram shows there was a long approach viaduct on the east side.
Pulaski Skyway Contract Pre-Bid Meeting view HistoricBridges

The skyway is around 3 miles long and the Hoboken Avenue Viaduct on the east side adds about another mile. The main span of each cantilevered bridge is 550' and has a 135' clearance. The skyway was part of a 13.2 mile extension of US-1 to feed the Holland Tunnel. It cost $20m. It would cost $3.2b to build it today. Instead of replacing it, NJDOT decided to spend $1b to rehabilitate it. Construction began in May 1923, and it was supposed to be completed in 1926. But "the extension was delayed by controversy over the routing through the New Jersey Meadowlands." That is why it was not done when the Holland Tunnel opened in 1927. [NYCroadsnj] Did we have environmental impact issues back in the 1920s? It carries 74,000 vehicles per day. [NorthJersey]


Photo from U of Michigan Lincoln Highway Collection via BridgeHunter
1930s view looking northwest
[This is the Passaic River, so that is not the same power generating station that we see above in the photo over the Hackensack River]

Because the power station in this photo has five instead of six smokestacks, this would be the Hackensack River Bridge.
Photo taken by Patrick Gurwell in November 2021 via BridgeHunter

The Pulaski Skyway, completed in 1932, is a 3.5 mile bridge of combination deck truss cantilever and Pratt through truss designed by Sigvald Johannesson to span the Meadowlands and Passaic and Hackensack Rivers. It connects Newark and Jersey City.
The span was named for Polish Nobleman and General Casimir Pulaski who helped bring order to the Continental Army during the American Revolution.
David Goessling
This is a fantastic book about the building of the Pulaski Skyway: A must-read for anyone interested in NJ history.

A closeup of one of the bridge towers.
Metrotrails added
Original Kearny Generating Station on the Kearny Meadows constructed in 1923.
It was originally built with six coal fired units, which were converted to oil. The last of these units was retired in 2006, and six natural gas fired units went into service in 2012.

6th of 28 photos in nj
Aug 1978 courtesy of the Jersey City Public Library
[The Hackensack Bridge is in the foreground, and the Passaic Bridge is in the left background.]

Jim Fetchero commented on Bridge Hunter

Nathan Holth considers this to be the first fully limited access highway. Back then it was more commonly known as a superhighway.
[This photo is old enough that the power plant has just three smoke stacks.]

The two engineers that designed it had a background in railroads instead of highways. This was good because they knew how to design for a good traffic flow. Specifically, the importance of keeping the curves gentle and the grades low. [HistoricBridges] The S-curve in the Lake Shore Drive in Chicago demonstrates the nativity of highway designers with respect to the impact of curves on traffic flow.
Dennis DeBruler

Today, we take highway design concepts such as a median barrier, merge lanes and ramps on the outside instead of the inside for granted. But they had yet to be invented when this bridge was designed. Consequently, the skyway had a high accident rate when it opened. In fact, trucks were banned from the bridge because they had even an even bigger problem merging into traffic without a merge lane. [HistoricBridges, NYCroads]

The problem with ramps on the inside instead of the outside is that it causes one to merge into the faster lanes instead of the slower lanes. Chicago has examples of this on I-290 such as I-290 and Harlem Ave. (IL-43). Even with merge lanes, traffic on the highway gets screwed up when the ramps are in the center. If I remember correctly, I had trouble driving in Detroit because it also had some center ramps. And the signage did not help you figure out if you should be in the right lane or the left lane for an exit. And when a highway has 3 or 4 lanes, knowing which side to be on becomes rather important.

The center ramps allows us to get a good view of the truss members. As Nathan Holth commented on his Historic Bridges page, the trusses do not use the V-laced truss members that was the norm back then.
Street View

Historic Bridges provides some historical articles.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

1936 Norris Dam and 126netMW Powerhouse on Clinch River and 1798 Gristmill

Dam: (Satellite)
Gristmill: (Satellite)

This was the first dam built by the TVA.

Construction of Norris Dam began in 1933, just a few months after the creation of TVA, and was completed in 1936. It has two generating units with a summer net dependable capacity of 126 megawatts. The reservoir area also helped form the backbone for the Tennessee state park system.
- Norris has 809 miles of shoreline and 33,840 acres of water surface. It is the largest reservoir on a tributary of the Tennessee River.
- In a year with normal rainfall, the water level in Norris Reservoir varies about 29 feet from summer to winter to provide seasonal flood storage.
- The reservoir has a flood-storage capacity of 1,113,000 acre-feet.

KnoxNews has some history about the dam. 

The project was started by the Bureau of Reclamation in 1927 to increase the efficiency of the Wilson Dam, but the TVA took over a soon after it was created. The dam started with two 50mw generators. [TennesseeEncyclopedia]

0:30 video @ 0:09 (source)
Norris Dam is a symbol of American grit and engineering. 🇺🇸
The massive concrete structure is 265 feet high and stretches 1,860 feet across the Clinch River, creating a lake with 809 miles of shoreline. When completed in 1936, it helped power the Valley from the mountains of East Tennessee to the river shoals of Alabama.
Along with the other dams in our hydro fleet, Norris continues to provide reliable, low-cost renewable hydropower for the region.
Click on the link to get an up-close look inside.

[This is the only photo I saw that shows the two control gates open while the dam is spilling water.]

The TVA photo at the top of these notes shows just the upper control gates open. This shows the lower gates being used. I presume these are used to allow cooler water to enter the river.
By TVA Web Team - NorrisUploaded by bomazi, CC BY 2.0

I was trying to find details about how the lower gates work. I found some details in a video tour of the dam as a mural in the visitor center.
7:40 video tour of the dam @ 2:28
[At 0:09, this video calls Norris the flagship of TVA's system of locks and dams.
At 2:54 it labels the generators as 65mw. It takes 24,000 gallons of water to spin a turbine. That is 3200cfs.
3:04 answers another of my questions. The crest is not fixed. It has drum gates.
The video also mentions trout fishing. I've learned elsewhere that that is why they are concerned about making the river water cooler than surface lake water.
The roadway across the top was the first limited access highway in the state.]

TVA posted four photos with the comment: "For over 89 years, our power-producing dams like Norris Dam have helped keep the lights on, the economy humming, and the AC running!  During these hot days, we are especially thankful for our original renewable power source - hydroelectricity. "
James Torgeson shared




[A caption on the first photo in a gallery of construction photos indicates that the heavy-duty bridge was temporary. This bridge became obsolete when they finished the road across the top of the dam.]

Fort Loudoun Lock posted
Also TNhistoryForKids

[An article about the reporter Ernie Pyle. He was famous for reporting WWII, but he also wrote several articles explaining TVA and Norris Dam.]

TNstateParks, sixth photo


Tennessee State Parks posted
Location: Norris Dam State Park
Norris Dam State Park's goal during this year's My TN State Park Fundraiser was to raise enough money to restore the Historic Rice Gristmill at the park. Over 60 people donated just over $3,000 to Norris Dam during the fundraiser, allowing the park to start the long-awaited restoration project. A portion of the funds are currently being used to replace cogs inside the gristmill. Staff will continue to post updates about the restoration on the park's Facebook page.
Photo of the Historic Rice Gristmill at Norris Dam State Park, taken by ©Tennessee Photographs. See more images from Tennessee Photographs at


There is also an historic threshing barn (and "event space") and museum near the dam.
TNstatparts, p1

TNstatparts, p2

The TVA moved the mill from Lost Creek to Clear Creek. [TNhomeAndFarm]

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

1920-1993 Leaf Brand Candy Company

(3D Satellite)

Leslie Manson posted
My aunt through marriage worked at Leaf Brand Candy, 1155 North Cicero, in the 1960's. My brothers and I loved when she would bring candy like spearmint leaves, orange slices and whoppers over to us. Sadly like most of the candy factories here in Chicago it moved out of state.
[There are a lot of comments about some of the other candy companies, working for a candy company and getting treats from candy companies....Leaf Brands was originally founded by Sol S. Leaf in Chicago, Illinois. Mr. Leaf started various candy companies beginning in the 1920s, and they were merged into Leaf Brands in 1947.]

"Originally, Leaf Brands® was started in the 1920’s by the members of the Leaf family. Leaf was responsible for producing such candy classics as Whoppers®, Milk Duds®, Jolly Rancher® and Rain Blo Bubblegum®, just to name a few classic Leaf brands....By the 1990s, Leaf had become one of the world’s top ten confectionery companies; it was especially strong in non-chocolate products such as pastilles and chewing gum and by 1993, Leaf was the fourth largest candy producer in North America before finally being purchased by Hershey’s Candy."
They also produced Payday and Heath Bar. [LstopTours]

Street View

The building was purchased in 1996 by Erickson, "which manufactures personal-care products for clients such as Helene Curtis, a unit of Unilever Home and Personal Care Inc., Gillette Co., and Colgate-Palmolive Co....The company is riding a wave of growth, fueled in part by a trend of major manufacturers, such as Sara Lee Corp. and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., to maintain their marketing business and contract out the manufacturing of their products." That company created over 200 jobs for the neighborhoood. [ChicagoTribune]

Hershey bought the "Leaf North American confectionery operations" in 1996. [en-academic] But the previous owner must have closed the Chicago factory in 1993 because the above 1997 Tribune article says the factory quit making candy four years earlier.

3D Satellite


Monday, March 28, 2022

1929 Dashields Locks & Dams on Ohio River


Unlike the Emsworth Dam that was rebuilt as a gated structure between 1935-38, this dam is still a fixed crest type dam. It is the only one left on the Ohio River.
Dashields eliminated Lock and Dam 3, an old style wicket dam, which was built by the Corps from 1899-1907. It averages about 450 commercial lockages every month, plus another 200 to 300 lockages of pleasure craft during the summer months.

The results of a Google search reminds me that a fixed crest dam is a "drowning machine." This dam is particularly dangerous because kayakers on the Ohio River expect to see big structures above the dam long before they get to the dam so that they know to head for the correct shore to get in the slack water behind the lock. 

USACE posted
We've received a few complaints from anglers upset that we moved our warning buoys downstream of Dashields Lock and Dam -- closing off "some of the best fishing spots around!" In fact, the river moved them. Several locks and dams have missing or displaced buoys due to the recent high water. SOME UPSTREAM BUOYS HAVE BEEN PUSHED CLOSER TO THE DAM and some downstream buoys have been swept away from the dam. Be especially aware and attentive while on the rivers. The graphic provided by our lockmaster shows the current location of buoys at Dashields. We'll reset the buoys when river conditions allow safe retrieval and placement. 

The smaller lock can handle only one barge at a time and it is creating a big "traffic jam."
Clayton Adams posted
It's become a river parking lot with single barge locking..both locks, 6 miles a part. We'll be tied off to the bridge before its all said and!!!
Heather Brown Hensch: Emsworth and Dashields locks below Pittsburgh. We're pulling cuts at Emsworth now.

Sunday, March 27, 2022

1955 I-70 Fort Henry Bridge over Ohio River in Wheeling, WV

The state border is on the west side of the Ohio River so this bridge is in Wheeling, WV. It is over the East Channel between the downtown area and Wheeling Island.

This bridge replaced the Steel Bridge.

Boston Public Library Flickr Photo via BridgeHunter, License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY)

It was originally built for a US highway. (US-40 and/or US-250 depending upon which year you read the plans.) The absence of a merge lane reminds me that 1955 is old for an Interstate bridge and that it took some accidents before highway designers learned the importance of merge lanes.
Street View, Oct 2021

I was surprised to see that a large, tie-arch bridge was so old. I thought they were a rather recent development. HistoricBridges agrees that this is a rare example of a historic steel arch bridge. The thing that is a recent development is building them on the shore and floating them and jacking them into place. HistoricBridges notes that this bridge was built with falsework.

Note the pretty blue paint in the above image of the missing merge lane. The bridge used to be green. And it did need a paint job. The beams appear to be massive, and they are riveted.
Street View, Jul 2019

Pittsburgh Press, Oct 3, 1954 via HistoricBridges

Saturday, March 26, 2022

1849+1860 Wheeling Suspension Bridge over Ohio River in Wheeling, WV

(Bridge Hunter; Historic Bridges; HAERSatellite)

This is a bridge that I can't believe I haven't researched already.

The state border is on the west side of the Ohio River so this bridge is in Wheeling, WV. It is over the East Channel between the downtown on the river's shore and Wheeling Island. (Since it crosses just the East Channel instead of the Ohio River, that allows the 1866 Cincinnati Roebling Bridge to claim to be the oldest bridge across the river.)

HAER WVA,35-WHEEL,35--60 (CT)
60. Perspective view of bridge, from northwest - Wheeling Suspension Bridge, Spanning East channel of Ohio River at U.S. Route 40, Wheeling, Ohio County, WV

Significance: Oldest vehicular suspension bridge still in operation in the world; span in excess of 1,000 feet. First bridge built crossing the Ohio River. Originally designed and built by Charles Ellet in 1849, it was often called the father of modern American suspension bridges. In 1969 it was designated an ASCE National Engineering Landmark, and a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1976. The Wheeling Bridge is perhaps the most important extant antebellum civil engineering structure in North America.  [HAER-data]
That would explain why HistoricBridges rates the historical significance of this bridge as 10 out of 10. It is important to note that the HAER record was "transmitted" in 1987 because it now carries just pedestrian traffic. But that is what should be done with an old bridge. Downgrade its function, but keep it standing. The National Historic Landmark that it won in 1976 is the highest honor that the US bestows on historic structures.

Street View, Jul 2019

The cables and deck truss we see today date back to "only" 1860. The bridge was designed by Charles Ellet Jr., and it "was not sufficiently stiffened to resist the cumulative motions resulting from the buffeting of high winds. On May 17, 1854, the structure was subjected to torsional movements and vertical undulations that tossed the flooring almost to the height of the towers. Except for some of the cables, the entire structure collapsed into the river." Various emergency repairs were done until the permanent replacement was built in 1860. Some guy wires were added as part of this rebuild. Subsequent work, some by Washington Roebling himself, made it look more and more like a Roebling design. [nomination, p5] "The current appearance of the bridge is essentially the work of Joseph Lawson in 1872." [Don Sayenga comment in BridgeHunter] It was the 1872 improvements to which Roebling contributed. But subsequent work added additional ideas pioneered by the Roeblings.

I was shocked when I read in the nomination that the truss was still made with wood and iron. Fortunately, Patrick caught that detail.
Photo taken by Patrick Gurwell in October 2020 via BridgeHunter
[It is hard to see through the railing, but there are iron verticals between the wooden X's.]

HistoricBridges notes that most bridges built in the 19th Century do not have a grade.
HAER WVA,35-WHEEL,35- (sheet 2 of 4)
HAER WVA,35-WHEEL,35- (sheet 2 of 4) - Wheeling Suspension Bridge, Spanning East channel of Ohio River at U.S. Route 40, Wheeling, Ohio County, WV

I did not notice the side stay cables until I saw the above diagram.

Not only is the bridge built on a grade, the anchorages are not symmetric because the shores are quite different.  The east shore is a bluff and bedrock is probably close to the surface. But the island side is probably just a bunch of sand. Thus the invention of this distributed anchorage.
Street View

I'm glad the town keeps the shore free from trees so that I could get this fantastic view that includes the river bluff on the other side.
Street View

BridgeHunter states that the length of the main span is 949.2'. But all of the other sources say in excess of 1000', and the nomination says 1010' between tower tops.

By 2016 the traffic was down to 5,234/day because they tried to seriously enforce a weight restriction. In 2019 they gave up trying to enforce a 2-ton weight restriction and closed the bridge to vehicles. Frankly, I'm surprised vehicles were not barred earlier given that the truss is still made with wood and iron.