Saturday, November 12, 2022

1912 Trail/HB&T SOC Bridge over Buffalo Bayou in Houston, TX

(Bridge Hunter; no Historic Bridges; Satellite, the bridge is under the Interstate)

HB&T = Houston Belt and Terminal

Patrick Feller Flickr via BridgeHunter, License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY)

HB&T Railway Strauss Bascule Bridge over Buffalo Bayou, Houston, Texas January 1986

I've been taking pictures since the sixties, most of them on Kodachrome, Ektachrome, Agfachrome, Fujichrome, etc.


Having others transfer them to digital is expensive and the quality uneven. I'd tried and been disappointed by one slide copier. I just received another, that mounts on my digital camera's lens, and tried it out on some slides that I took exploring Houston's East End, back around January of 1986.


This slide, of my favorite bridge, was a wonderful surprise.


The counterweight was removed in the 90s and the bridge is now hidden beneath an expanded Eastex Freeway.

The Portal to Texas History, Credit: Texas Historical Commission

Douglas Butler posted
From Portal to Texas History Houston Belt & Terminal Railroad Bridge in Houston, TX crossing the Buffalo, Bayou.

The counterweight was removed in the 1990s when the Interstate was expanded. This view shows why the counterweight was removed. There is barely enough clearance for the span itself. It also shows the curved rack under the counterweight arm of the span. The trunnion is at the top of the remaining tower frame. Given the round pier, it appears that this bridge replaced a swing bridge. However, the new bridge evidentially did not widen the navigation channel.
Patrick Feller Flickr, July 17, 2019, License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY)

They built a concrete foundation for the preserved counterweight. I wonder if they attached a crane and then cut the frame members with a torch so that they could move the whole structure intact. Or did they disassemble and reassemble the structure? Either way, it cost money. But as I think about it, the cost was probably a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of the Interstate expansion. I'm glad it was preserved.
Patrick Feller Flickr, Mar 16, 2009

Counterweight, Buffalo Bayou Bascule Railroad Bridge, Houston, Texas 0316091437BW

In the shadow of downtown Houston, and hidden under US Highway 59, where it crosses Buffalo Bayou, is a remnant of the days when the Port of Houston extended to downtown. It is a bascule railroad bridge, completed in 1912. The huge concrete counterweight that enabled raising the main span to let vessels pass has been removed and set nearby.


Strauss, this bridge's designer, also designed the Golden Gate Bridge.


Someone (almost certainly more than one) is burning our bridges. Most of the trestle type railroad bridges on disused railroad right-of-way in Houston appear to have fire damage to some degree or another. I've seen this on bridges over both Buffalo and White Oak Bayous.


This is disturbing, of course, from a criminal and safety standpoint, but it also destroys some of Houston's historic structures, something that Houston has had no trouble doing without arson. It is also disturbing because it is happening at a time when many of these structures are being incorporated or considered for incorporation in Houston's system of hike and bike trails.

Patrick Feller Album, Part 1

Patrick Feller Album, Part 2


  1. Thanks for the great photos! I ride my bike down there often. Haven't seen the counter weight is quite some time. Is it still there (as of 12/22), or have they removed/relocated it?

  2. It's still there! Saw it today.