Roebling’s Delaware Aqueduct: A Photographic Study

May 25, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

Roebling’s Delaware Aqueduct, located at Minisink Ford, New York, is the oldest existing wire suspension bridge in the United States. The 535-foot aqueduct bridge, spanning the Delaware River, opened in 1849 as a vital transportation link between the coal mines of Pennsylvania and the thriving marketplace in New York. It was one of four suspension aqueducts on the former Delaware & Hudson Canal. John A. Roebling (1806-1869), future engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge, designed each of the four bridges.

 

The Delaware Aqueduct operated for nearly 50 years, closing in 1898 with the end of the canal. The aqueduct was then drained and the bridge converted to accommodate vehicle traffic, often operating as a private toll road. The bridge continued to operate until 1979 when, after substantial deterioration through years of neglect, it was threatened with closure. Fortunately, however, in 1980 the National Park Service purchased the bridge and began its restoration using Roebling’s original plans and specifications.

 

Roebling’s Delaware Aqueduct was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1968. Today, the bridge accommodates single lane vehicle traffic where barges once flowed, and accommodates foot traffic on each side of the road where the path was once trod by canal workers and their mules. Roebling’s Delaware Aqueduct is a wonderful example of the historic and modern blended together in the Upper Delaware River area.

 

Photograph of Roebling’s Delaware Aqueduct, located at Minisink Ford in Sullivan County, New York.Roebling’s Delaware AqueductRoebling’s Delaware Aqueduct, located at Minisink Ford, New York, is the oldest existing wire suspension bridge in the United States. The 535-foot aqueduct bridge, spanning the Delaware River, opened in 1847 as a vital transportation link between the coal mines of Pennsylvania and the thriving marketplace in New York. It was one of four suspension aqueducts on the former Delaware & Hudson Canal. John A. Roebling (1806-1869), future engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge, designed each of the four bridges.

The aqueduct operated for over 50 years, closing in 1898 with the end of the canal. The aqueduct was then drained and the bridge converted to accommodate vehicle traffic, often operating as a private toll road. The bridge continued to operate until 1979 when, after substantial deterioration through years of neglect, it was threatened with closure. Fortunately, however, in 1980 the National Park Service purchased the bridge and began its restoration using Roebling’s original plans and specifications.

Roebling’s Delaware Aqueduct was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1968. Today, the bridge accommodates single lane vehicle traffic where barges once flowed, and accommodates foot traffic on each side of the road where the path was once trod by canal workers and their mules. Roebling’s Delaware Aqueduct is a wonderful example of the historic and modern blended together in the Upper Delaware River area.

 

Photograph of Roebling’s Delaware Aqueduct, located at Minisink Ford in Sullivan County, New York.Overlooking Roebling's Delaware AqueductRoebling’s Delaware Aqueduct, located at Minisink Ford, New York, is the oldest existing wire suspension bridge in the United States. The 535-foot aqueduct bridge, spanning the Delaware River, opened in 1847 as a vital transportation link between the coal mines of Pennsylvania and the thriving marketplace in New York. It was one of four suspension aqueducts on the former Delaware & Hudson Canal. John A. Roebling (1806-1869), future engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge, designed each of the four bridges.

The aqueduct operated for over 50 years, closing in 1898 with the end of the canal. The aqueduct was then drained and the bridge converted to accommodate vehicle traffic, often operating as a private toll road. The bridge continued to operate until 1979 when, after substantial deterioration through years of neglect, it was threatened with closure. Fortunately, however, in 1980 the National Park Service purchased the bridge and began its restoration using Roebling’s original plans and specifications.

Roebling’s Delaware Aqueduct was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1968. Today, the bridge accommodates single lane vehicle traffic where barges once flowed, and accommodates foot traffic on each side of the road where the path was once trod by canal workers and their mules. Roebling’s Delaware Aqueduct is a wonderful example of the historic and modern blended together in the Upper Delaware River area.

Photograph of Roebling’s Delaware Aqueduct, located at Minisink Ford in Sullivan County, New York.Across the RiverRoebling’s Delaware Aqueduct, located at Minisink Ford, New York, is the oldest existing wire suspension bridge in the United States. The 535-foot aqueduct bridge, spanning the Delaware River, opened in 1847 as a vital transportation link between the coal mines of Pennsylvania and the thriving marketplace in New York. It was one of four suspension aqueducts on the former Delaware & Hudson Canal. John A. Roebling (1806-1869), future engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge, designed each of the four bridges.

The aqueduct operated for over 50 years, closing in 1898 with the end of the canal. The aqueduct was then drained and the bridge converted to accommodate vehicle traffic, often operating as a private toll road. The bridge continued to operate until 1979 when, after substantial deterioration through years of neglect, it was threatened with closure. Fortunately, however, in 1980 the National Park Service purchased the bridge and began its restoration using Roebling’s original plans and specifications.

Roebling’s Delaware Aqueduct was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1968. Today, the bridge accommodates single lane vehicle traffic where barges once flowed, and accommodates foot traffic on each side of the road where the path was once trod by canal workers and their mules. Roebling’s Delaware Aqueduct is a wonderful example of the historic and modern blended together in the Upper Delaware River area.

 

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The Wayne County Herald issue of May 9, 1849 announced the opening of the aqueduct in an article titled “Del. & Hud. Canal Company.”

 

“The water was let into the Delaware and Hudson Canal on the 25th ult., and the navigation resumed for the season. The wire Suspension Aqueducts over the Delaware and Lackawaxen rivers, which were commenced in 1846, are now completed and opened for the passage of boats. These works have been erected for the purpose of avoiding the delay formerly experienced in crossing the Delaware river, and will materially improved the navigation. They are constructed on the plan of the Pittsburg Suspension Aqueduct; a structure designed and executed by Mr. John A. Roebling, civil Engineer of the city of Pittsburg, and which has proved eminently successful, and was the first of the kind in the world. After an examination of this work by Mr. R. F. Lord, Chief Engineer of the Del. & Hud. Canal Co., a contract was entered into with Mr. Roebling for the erection of the superstructure of the Delaware and Lackawaxen Aqueducts. The following description will convey a tolerably accurate idea of the extent and magnificence of this work.

 

The trunks are composed of timber and plank well joined and caulked, and suspended to two wire cables, one on each side. The Cables rest in heavy cast iron saddles, which are placed on top of small towers of 4 by 6 feet base, rising 4 feet above the towpath. There is a towpath on each side of the trunk, which is wide enough for two boats of the present capacity to pass. The towers are each composed of 3 blocks of a white quartz pudding-stone, of great hardness and durability, obtained from the quarries in Ulster Co., N.Y. The masonry of the piers and abutments, which support the little towers has been executed in the most substantial manner of a durable and compact gray-wacke, which constitutes the principal foundation of the valley of the upper Delaware. The beds of the face-stone are all cut, the backing is large and well bonded, and the whole laid in hydraulic cement. Nothing has been spared to ensure the safety of the foundations, and by the construction of good ice-breakers to guard the piers against the heavy ice floods, which in this river prove sometimes very violent and destructive.

 

The Cables are made in one length across the river from abutment to abutment, and connected at their ends with anchor chains, manufactured of solid wrought iron, in bars of from 5 ft. to 10 feet long, and 5 to 6 inches wide by 1 1/4 inch thick. The lower end of each chain is secured to a heavy cast iron anchor-plate of 6 feet square, which supports the foundation of a large body of masonry, whose weight resists the strain of the chain and cable. As the cables are protected against oxidation by a copious varnish and paint and closely encased by a tight wire wrapping, which gives them the appearance of solid cylinders, they may be considered indestructible.

 

The wood-work is subject to decay, however it will last longer in these works than in common timber structures, and can be renewed at any time.

 

The following table exhibits the principal dimensions and quantities of the Delaware Aqueduct:

 

  • Hydraulic cement masonry in abutments, piers and anchorage, 7,688 cubic yards.

 

  • Length of Aqueduct with extensions, 600 feet.

 

  • Number of Spans, 4.

 

  • Length of Span varies from 131 to 142 feet.

 

  • Width of Trunk at water line, 19 ft.

 

  • Depth of water, 6 ft. 6 inches.

 

  • Weight of water between abutments, 1,950 tons.

 

  • Weight of water in one span, 487 1/2 tons.

 

  • Diameter of wire cables, 8 1/2 inches.

 

  • Length of wire weighing 1 lb., 17 1/2 feet.

 

  • Number of wires in each cable, 2,150.

 

  • Total weight of Cables and anchor chains, 190,000 lbs.

 

  • Ultimate strength of each cable, 1,900 tons.

 

The new Aqueducts over the Neversink at Cuddebackville and the Rondout at High Falls, will be constructed on the same plan in the course of this season. There will then be on the line of the Del. And Hudson Canal, four Wire Suspension Aqueducts, most perfect and complete, as far as durability and economy is concerned.

 

The general enlargement of the Canal has been prosecuted vigorously during the last winter. Fifty-seven of the enlarged Locks, being 100 feet long between quoins, and 15 feet width of chamber, are brought into use this spring, and the whole are to be completed by the opening of the Canal in the spring of 1850, making the canal then competent for the passage of Boats loaded with 130 to 140 tons of Coal.”

 

Photograph of Roebling’s Delaware Aqueduct, located at Minisink Ford in Sullivan County, New York.The Bridge at Minisink FordRoebling’s Delaware Aqueduct, located at Minisink Ford, New York, is the oldest existing wire suspension bridge in the United States. The 535-foot aqueduct bridge, spanning the Delaware River, opened in 1847 as a vital transportation link between the coal mines of Pennsylvania and the thriving marketplace in New York. It was one of four suspension aqueducts on the former Delaware & Hudson Canal. John A. Roebling (1806-1869), future engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge, designed each of the four bridges.

The aqueduct operated for over 50 years, closing in 1898 with the end of the canal. The aqueduct was then drained and the bridge converted to accommodate vehicle traffic, often operating as a private toll road. The bridge continued to operate until 1979 when, after substantial deterioration through years of neglect, it was threatened with closure. Fortunately, however, in 1980 the National Park Service purchased the bridge and began its restoration using Roebling’s original plans and specifications.

Roebling’s Delaware Aqueduct was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1968. Today, the bridge accommodates single lane vehicle traffic where barges once flowed, and accommodates foot traffic on each side of the road where the path was once trod by canal workers and their mules. Roebling’s Delaware Aqueduct is a wonderful example of the historic and modern blended together in the Upper Delaware River area.

Photograph of Roebling’s Delaware Aqueduct, located at Minisink Ford in Sullivan County, New York.Roebling BridgeRoebling’s Delaware Aqueduct, located at Minisink Ford, New York, is the oldest existing wire suspension bridge in the United States. The 535-foot aqueduct bridge, spanning the Delaware River, opened in 1847 as a vital transportation link between the coal mines of Pennsylvania and the thriving marketplace in New York. It was one of four suspension aqueducts on the former Delaware & Hudson Canal. John A. Roebling (1806-1869), future engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge, designed each of the four bridges.

The aqueduct operated for over 50 years, closing in 1898 with the end of the canal. The aqueduct was then drained and the bridge converted to accommodate vehicle traffic, often operating as a private toll road. The bridge continued to operate until 1979 when, after substantial deterioration through years of neglect, it was threatened with closure. Fortunately, however, in 1980 the National Park Service purchased the bridge and began its restoration using Roebling’s original plans and specifications.

Roebling’s Delaware Aqueduct was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1968. Today, the bridge accommodates single lane vehicle traffic where barges once flowed, and accommodates foot traffic on each side of the road where the path was once trod by canal workers and their mules. Roebling’s Delaware Aqueduct is a wonderful example of the historic and modern blended together in the Upper Delaware River area.

Photograph of Roebling’s Delaware Aqueduct, located at Minisink Ford in Sullivan County, New York.John A. Roebling's Bridge at Minisink FordRoebling’s Delaware Aqueduct, located at Minisink Ford, New York, is the oldest existing wire suspension bridge in the United States. The 535-foot aqueduct bridge, spanning the Delaware River, opened in 1847 as a vital transportation link between the coal mines of Pennsylvania and the thriving marketplace in New York. It was one of four suspension aqueducts on the former Delaware & Hudson Canal. John A. Roebling (1806-1869), future engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge, designed each of the four bridges.

The aqueduct operated for over 50 years, closing in 1898 with the end of the canal. The aqueduct was then drained and the bridge converted to accommodate vehicle traffic, often operating as a private toll road. The bridge continued to operate until 1979 when, after substantial deterioration through years of neglect, it was threatened with closure. Fortunately, however, in 1980 the National Park Service purchased the bridge and began its restoration using Roebling’s original plans and specifications.

Roebling’s Delaware Aqueduct was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1968. Today, the bridge accommodates single lane vehicle traffic where barges once flowed, and accommodates foot traffic on each side of the road where the path was once trod by canal workers and their mules. Roebling’s Delaware Aqueduct is a wonderful example of the historic and modern blended together in the Upper Delaware River area.

Photograph of Roebling’s Delaware Aqueduct, located at Minisink Ford in Sullivan County, New York.Roebling's Engineering MarvelRoebling’s Delaware Aqueduct, located at Minisink Ford, New York, is the oldest existing wire suspension bridge in the United States. The 535-foot aqueduct bridge, spanning the Delaware River, opened in 1847 as a vital transportation link between the coal mines of Pennsylvania and the thriving marketplace in New York. It was one of four suspension aqueducts on the former Delaware & Hudson Canal. John A. Roebling (1806-1869), future engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge, designed each of the four bridges.

The aqueduct operated for over 50 years, closing in 1898 with the end of the canal. The aqueduct was then drained and the bridge converted to accommodate vehicle traffic, often operating as a private toll road. The bridge continued to operate until 1979 when, after substantial deterioration through years of neglect, it was threatened with closure. Fortunately, however, in 1980 the National Park Service purchased the bridge and began its restoration using Roebling’s original plans and specifications.

Roebling’s Delaware Aqueduct was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1968. Today, the bridge accommodates single lane vehicle traffic where barges once flowed, and accommodates foot traffic on each side of the road where the path was once trod by canal workers and their mules. Roebling’s Delaware Aqueduct is a wonderful example of the historic and modern blended together in the Upper Delaware River area.

 


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