Sunday, April 8, 2012

Another Roebling on the Delaware. Whoda thunk?

I feel as if I keep running into Roebling bridges on the Delaware.

Last summer, it was the aqueduct that brought the Delaware and Hudson Canal across the river from Pennsylvania to New York.

The other day it was a cable suspension bridge connecting Riegelsville with Riegelsville. That's two separate towns, one in New Jersey and the other directly across in Pennsylvania, kinda like Kansas City, but not really. I found the bridge as I was wandering along the very narrow and curving River Road in Pohatcong, south from the hamlet of Carpentersville.

As I mentioned in my post about the Carpentersville excursion, I wasn't even sure the river to my right was the Delaware. It's not especially wide in Warren County, there were no signs to tell me, and I didn't have a GPS. The only indication I had was a line painted about 10 feet up on a house to indicate the high-water mark following Hurricane Diane in 1955. I knew the Delaware had severely overstepped its bounds in the 50s, but I wasn't sure that others in the area hadn't, as well.

The Riegelsville Roebling bridge owes its creation to an earlier flood: the 1903 "Pumpkin flood" that not only washed orange gourds down the river but also swept away a wooden span built in 1853. Like other bridges the company built, the 1904 structure has aged well, withstanding a host of floods with minimal damage. It's standing even prouder now, after a 2010 rehab, funded by the bridge's owner, the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission. Travelers pay no tolls there, though there are toll houses on both sides (take that, Dingmans Ferry bridge!).

When there's a bridge, I have to cross it, even if it lands me in another state for a few minutes. I was a little surprised by the challenge the roadway presented. The open grate deck kinda grabs your tires and shunts your car over a little bit, requiring you to steer straight more diligently than you might ordinarily. The Acura approaching from the opposite direction certainly appreciated when I tugged my car to the right a little more to assure I stayed well within my lane.  Overall, though, it's a pleasant though quick ride across the Delaware, just over 500 feet long. Once again, Roebling's work has stood the test of time.

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