With little notice to the press, an historic bridge is destroyed
On December 12th, 2006, a section of the Tioronda Bridge spanning the Fishkill Creek in Beacon, NY was cut away from the other bridge sections and removed. I contacted local papers to try and have this disastrous event covered with little immediate result. The â€œBeaconâ€ Free Press two weeks later, printed a short article with a file photo of the bridge still entact. The Poughkeepsie Journal, (read Poughkeepsie, and youâ€™ll understand why they needed to be prodded and cajoled to write anything about the bridge). By the end of the week, the remaining sections will were removed and sent to storage somewhere in Beacon.
The bridge is a Bowstring Truss Bridge and one of the last remaing of its kind in the US. While a newly elected city government is promising that the bridge will be â€˜restoredâ€™ and the trusses eventually returned as ornamental pieces when a new bridge is built, this remains to be seen. Many local officials and fire dept heads want to see a new two lane bridge with a corresponding widening of South Ave, the road that runs across the creek.
The area around the bridge is pristine, save for the abandoned factory building owned by a New York Corporation with unknown intentions for its use. Madam Brett Park adjoins the span. The tide pushes into the creek as far as the bridge and sturgeon can occasionally be seen just below the murky surface. The road leading to the bridge from 9D is narrow and winding. It crosses the Tioronda Bridge and once under the railroad tracks a little further on splits. The area is single family housing and is still quite wooded. Deer abound and the occasional Osprey swoops into the creek for a morning meal.
Above the bridge about a quarter mile is the last of several waterfalls on the creek. On either side of the creek, two abutments give a clue to the old route of the Central New England RR Co. which crossed the creek here. Just behind the two houses on the East side of the bridge, the old railroad right of way can still be seen if you know where to look.
With the onslaught of development in the area, and the possible development of the Craig House property near by, this small relatively undisturbed area is in need of protection. At the same time, the residential population in the area needs fire and other emergency vehicles to be able to quickly respond to any situation. All of the concerns for the bridge, old and new are legitimate.
Where do we go from here? The historic bridge piers need to be rebuilt. The bridge needs to be restored and preserved. The bow string trussâ€™s need to be carefully stored and given new life if possible, and put back in place, if only used in an ornamental fashion. The bridge should become a pedestrian walkway with access for emergency vehicles when necessary.
The Tioronda Bridge is unique. Only a few remain in the entire USA. To have allowed it to deteriorate to its present state is a crime. To ignore its significance is shameful and to not restore it will add to the list of architecture that has been allowed to be demolished in Beacon in the name of progress.
It is certainly clear that Beacon and the Hudson Valley is growing. It is a clear reason for structures like the Tioronda bridge and other important and historical sites be preserved.
I spent quite a bit of time last week photographing the dismantling of the Tioronda Bridge. The photos are a part of the bridges history. Letâ€™s hope that Iâ€™ll soon be taking photographs of a newly designed bridge that incorporates the old trussâ€™s that have been a part of our history for so long.