Centennial Celebration Planned for World’s Largest Reinforced Concrete Railroad Bridge
NICHOLSON, PA – Mark your calendars! On September 11-12-13, 2015, the community of Nicholson will celebrate the centennial of the Nicholson Bridge, also known as the Tunkhannock Creek Viaduct or the Tunkhannock Viaduct. Built by the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad (DL&W), construction on the Tunkhannock Creek Viaduct began in 1912 and its completion, dedication, and ready for use took place on November 6, 1915. Abraham Burton Cohen was project designer and George G. Ray was chief engineer. Nicholson is a small rural town nestled in Wyoming County and the Endless Mountains of Northeastern Pennsylvania; about 21 miles north of Scranton on Route 11.
This engineering marvel was part of a larger project, called the Clarks Summit-Hallstead Cutoff, built to shorten the DL&W main rail line from Scranton, PA to Binghamton, NY by 3.6 miles, lessen the steep grades, and straighten the rail line. The entire Cut-off, sometimes referred to as the Pennsylvania or Nicholson Cut-off, was built with two sets of tracks to allow for trains going north and south at the same time. This shortened route cost approximately $12 million but saved considerable travel time.
In 1975, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) designated the Nicholson Bridge as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark due to its significant contribution to the development of the United States and to the profession of civil engineering. On April 11, 1977, this construction and engineering feat was listed on the National Register of Historic Places (#77001203) due to its national architectural, engineering, and transportation significance. Additionally, the viaduct was documented by the Historic American Engineering Record, which was established in 1969 by an agreement by the National Park Service, the ASCE, and the Library of Congress to document historic sites and structures related to engineering and industry.
There will be plenty to do in Nicholson and the area, with events for the celebration currently being planned. Information is available at http://www.nicholsonbridge100th.com, including a Google map showing area accommodations. Additionally, the Brooklyn Historical Society will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Martins Creek Viaduct, also known as the Kingsley Bridge, the weekend before on Saturday, September 5, 2015 in Kingsley, about 9 miles north of Nicholson on Route 11. As a reminder, the Nicholson Bridge 100th Anniversary Celebration schedule is subject to change, so check back for updates, which will include events and activities as they get confirmed.
For starters, the Nicholson Bridge 100th celebration will begin Friday, September 11, 2015, night. Then, on Saturday, September 12, 2015, the official program will take place in the morning, a parade in the afternoon, and Main Street will be closed all day for entertainment, food, and History on Main Street, where area historical groups have been invited to show off their items! Additionally, the Nicholson Heritage Association is working on walking historical tours for both weekend days. Finally, on Sunday, September 13, 2015, the Nicholson Women’s Club will organize their annual Bridge Day, where crafts, vendors, and food will be available on Main Street.
Two grants from the Wyoming County Room Tax Fund and the Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau will be used to market and promote the event and replace deteriorated signs that welcome visitors as they drive into Nicholson.
The logo by George Penyak of Scranton was chosen as the winner by the Association to commemorate the anniversary and celebration. Congratulations George!
Visitors could see other area attractions or stay longer than the planned three days of events to see the Viaduct Valley Way Scenic Byway (which runs from Tunkhannock to Lanesboro through Nicholson); Starrucca Viaduct in Lanesboro; Steamtown National Historic Site, Anthracite Heritage Museum and Iron Furnaces, and Electric City Trolley Museum, all in Scranton; and numerous other historical sites and activities to do in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Additionally, visitors could plan to see the Kingsley Bridge in Kingsley the same weekend or the weekend before, on September 5, 2015, for the Brooklyn Historical Society’s planned 100th celebration. See endless options at the Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau website.
Besides this celebration, the Nicholson Heritage Association meets regularly to discuss and work on initiatives that include the Nicholson Tourism Center at the Historic DL&W Railroad Station, the Viaduct Valley Way Scenic Byway, and purchasing U.S. flags for local businesses. The next Nicholson Heritage Association meeting will take place at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 25, 2015, at the First Presbyterian Church, 65 State Street, in Nicholson. For updates, please visit http://www.nicholsonheritage.org or visit them on Facebook and Twitter.