In 1911 the idea for a massive viaduct to span this valley in Nicholson came into being. It would be an engineering feat even to day but imagine what it was in the early 1900's with the equipment available at that time. Design credit for the bridge goes to A. Burton Cohen, and engineer G. J. Ray and contractors Flickwer and Bush brought his design into reality.
The Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad was owner and builder of the bridge. However they would not allow dynamite to be transported on their railway so it was shipped by another rail line, the Lehigh Railroad into Springville and transported to Nicholson by horse and wagon.
Ground was broken in May of 1912 and in January of 1913 the first concrete was poured. Piers had to be sunk to bedrock, which in one case was one hundred and thirty-eight feet. Another delay was encountered at one point in constructing the pier near the creek when a problem with quicksand had to be overcome. This pier rests on bedrock ninety-two feet below the surface.
Networks of reinforcing steel were installed when the wood forms were in place. Some of this steel measures two inches in diameter. Buckets of concrete were hoisted to the top, moved across the tramway and the concrete was dropped though the trapdoor bottoms of the buckets As they removed the wood forms they were reused while preparing for the next pier. It is believed that some of this wood was sold after the completion of the bridge and used in building homes in the village. It took twelve spans to make this majestic structure complete. Ten spans of 180 feet that are visible and two spans of 100 feet that are buried in the approaching hills. It took 163,000 cubic yards of concrete, 2,280,000 Ibs. of reinforcing steel and 185,000 bbls. of cement.
The legend of a person being buried in the Nicholson Bridge is truly just a "story". The men were always working at concrete level and heavy concentration of steel rods would have prevented anyone from falling in the piers.
The magnificent view of the bridge is ever changing throughout the day. In the morning sun it looks white and by late afternoon it may look golden or pink as the sun starts to set. On a rainy day the bridge takes on a gray appearance. There is no other sight to compare with coming up Route 92 on a clear night and seeing a full moon "hanging in the arch" of the bridge.
Theodore Drieser said it best when he wrote "Hoosier Holiday". He stated "a thing colossal and impressive those arches!. How really beautiful they were. How symmetrically planned! And the smaller arches above, how delicate and lightsomely graceful! It is odd to stand in the presence of so great a thing in the making and realize that you are looking at one of the true wonders of the world."
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© 1997 by The Houdini Museum. No part of any of this document may be reproduced in any form, without written permission. The graphics have been retouched, computer enhanced and resized by the authors.