Sunday, April 29, 2012

Talcottville Iron Bridge, Talcottville, CT... again

Talcottville Main Street Bridge
I wasn't all that happy with my recent post about the Talcottville Main Street Bridge. First, I'd cleverly timed my photos just before leaves started opening, making a rather barren picture. Secondly, because I didn't even go on the bridge. I was already on the mill grounds and just shot it from there.

If I'd gone on the bridge and past it, I'd have come to the Talcott Ravine trails that connect to Vernon's branch of the Rails-to-Trails project. And I'd have seen the pond and gotten a much better view of the bridge -- with the water tower from the mill standing behind it, and the dam just past the bridge allowing the foliage on the banks of the Tankerhoosen River to show.

I'd have had the picture above.

The old bridge railing

This iron railing must once have been on the inside of the bridge, where steel guardrails now keep cars from slipping off the edge of the bridge. It was likely fastened on the outside to cover up the steel reinforcements that keep the bridge together. This bridge could really use a complete renovation. I'm not sure Talcottville is enough of a tourist draw to get Vernon to spend the million bucks or so to rebuild the bridge (I have no idea how much it would cost). Maybe if they find someone to buy the mill and do something fun with it, the bridge would get some love. Not while the mill slides forgotten into ruin, though.

First house built in Talcottville (1802)
So, if you want to see an incredibly historic bridge fixed up, come visit historic Talcottville. You can see the whole place in half an hour -- an hour and a half if you want to go down the ravine trails. There were some guys fishing in the pond, too, so bring your fishing stuff!

It's all about the Tankerhoosen, you know.

Merritt Parkway, Greenwich, CT

North Street Bridge
Kind of an unusual shot. I was on my way back from Virginia. I usually swing wide to avoid major cities -- and their tolls -- but this time, I made the straight shot up the coast on Route 95 and the NJ Turnpike. So many tolls. So many great bridges, too, from the Woodrow Wilson in DC to quite a few in the Baltimore area to the absolutely stupendous Delaware Bridge and just as twilight ended, over the George Washington Bridge. I didn't get pictures of any of them. Someday.

I was out of money after the Geo. Washington, so I figured I'd avoid the toll in White Plains and just go up the Hutchinson Parkway to my old friend, the Merritt Parkway, home to some of the most intriguing bridges in the state of Connecticut. It being dark, I didn't expect to get any pictures... but Fate intervened.

There was a tragic accident up ahead, and we ended up parked on the parkway (aha!) for a good forty five minutes. Right in front of the North Street bridge in Greenwich. Rested the camera on the dash and got this long exposure picture.

Merritt Parkway
I had bought a dashboard mount for my iPhone awhile back with the intent of taking pictures from the car of the Merritt Parkway bridges because I couldn't think of any better way to take pictures of dozens of ornate bridges from a highway where places to stop were rare and in any case, not well-placed for bridge photography.

The pictures came out -- sorta. This one above, from outside the Sikorsky plant in Stratford, I took with the regular camera. When the Merritt Parkway was first built, each underpass and overpass was designed to reflect a different art style or construction technique. The planners just wanted to make a really beautiful road for travelers from or to New York to skip past the coastal cities on Connecticut's "handle". The bridge above would have worked just as well without the iron leaves... but it was more beautiful with them.

I'm adding some of the pictures automatically taken on the car trip below. Not great quality, I just had the iPhone on the dash snapping whatever it saw every three seconds, but it should give an impression of the wide variety and detail of the bridges on the Merritt Parkway.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Talcottville Iron Bridge, Talcottville, CT

Talcottville Iron Bridge
This one's a local bridge -- it's right down the road, yet I'd never heard of it until today, when I ran across it while photographing the Talcottville Mill. It crosses the Tankerhoosen River just above a dam on Talcottville's Main Street. It's a pony truss bridge made, presumably, of iron.

The historic bridge site says this bridge was built by the famous Berlin Iron Bridge Company, and is the only pony truss bridge where the truss members actually bear the weight of cars crossing the bridge. A pony truss bridge, by the way, is one with no trusses connecting the sides along the top.

I was in my car, since I was coming back from a photography trip up in Shenipsit State Park, but this is a bridge that needs my bicycle on it.

Talcottville Mill
This mill was the center of Talcottville for decades. The Talcott brothers had bought the mill and the surrounding lands from Nathaniel Kellogg, who had named the area Kelloggville. No shortage of ego on either side, there. The Talcott brothers built twin homes across the street on hills, overlooking the mill. The mill remained active in some form through the 20th century, though it is all entirely abandoned now.

Just about time to recondition it into luxury apartments...

You can (and should!) read more about Talcottville's historic legacy, as the story it tells is repeated, with minor variations, throughout the northeast. Talcottville today is a historic district within Vernon, CT, and signs along the few roads point out and explain the historic significance of the mill and other relics of an elder age.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Whitestone Bridge, Bronx-Queens, NY

Bronx-Whitestone Bridge
It's a big bridge to be found by accident, but that's how I came by it. I was headed down the Merritt Parkway, hoping to get half decent car pictures of those bridges (I did, some of them). I'd gotten a bonus bridge at the Sikorsky factory. Since the Merritt Parkway leaves off in New York, I wondered if I could get a quick borough bridge  Maybe the Brooklyn Bridge. That would be a nice one.

I blindly followed Google Maps and saw I was about to come to the Whitestone Bridge -- and it had a toll. It also had a park right next to it... and it suddenly became the NYC bridge of the day (followed soon after by the Pelham Bridge, but that's a topic for another, shorter post).

Whitestone Bridge
The Whitestone Bridge crosses the East River, connecting the borough of the Bronx with the borough of Queens. Construction was managed by famous civil engineer Robert Moses, who, in his typical ruthless efficiency, tore down as many Queens homes as necessary to anchor the bridge. He and designer Othmarr Ammann would later collaborate on the nearby Throgs Neck Bridge, which I did not visit this trip.

The Bronx side of the bridge rises from Ferry Point Park. Bronx has many really nice parks; Ferry Point Park, though, has a wonderful view of Manhattan and is incredibly accessible.

Ferry Point Park
There is no pedestrian or bicycle access to the bridge. There is ample parking at Ferry Point Park, with easy access from route I-678. As mentioned before, you'll pay handsomely to take a jaunt to Queens on the bridge -- and you'll pay on the way back as well. At least the George Washington Bridge has the decency to charge only one way.

The bridge's proximity to the park make it a fantastic backdrop to weekend family enjoyment.

Bronx end of the Whitestone Bridge
I'm so, so very happy spring has come. Finally there's some life in these pictures.