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Tunkhannock Viaduct

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Title: Tunkhannock Viaduct  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Abraham Burton Cohen, Tunkhannock Creek (Susquehanna River), Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad, National Register of Historic Places listings in Wyoming County, Pennsylvania, Paulinskill Viaduct
Collection: Bridges Completed in 1915, Bridges in Wyoming County, Pennsylvania, Bridges on the National Register of Historic Places in Pennsylvania, Canadian Pacific Railway Bridges, Concrete Bridges, Concrete Bridges in Pennsylvania, Deck Arch Bridges, Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Bridges, Historic American Engineering Record in Pennsylvania, Historic Civil Engineering Landmarks, Norfolk Southern Railway Bridges, Pennsylvania State Historical Marker Significations, Railroad Bridges in Pennsylvania, Railway Bridges on the National Register of Historic Places, Viaducts in the United States
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Tunkhannock Viaduct

Tunkhannock Creek Viaduct
A Steamtown National Historic Site excursion train crosses Tunkhannock Viaduct.
Carries railroad traffic
Crosses Tunkhannock Creek
Locale Nicholson, Pennsylvania, USA
Design Deck arch bridge
Material concrete
Total length 2,375 feet (723.9 m)
Width two tracks
Longest span 180 feet (54.9 m) each span
Number of spans 10
Clearance below 240 feet (73.2 m)
Designer Abraham Burton Cohen
Construction begin May 1912

November 6, 1915

Tunkhannock Creek Viaduct
Tunkhannock Viaduct is located in Pennsylvania
Location in Pennsylvania
Area 3 acres (1.2 ha)
Built 1912-1915
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 77001203[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP April 11, 1977
Designated PHMC September 16, 1995[2]

Tunkhannock Creek Viaduct (also known as the Nicholson Bridge and the Tunkhannock Viaduct) is a concrete deck arch bridge that spans the Tunkhannock Creek in Nicholson, Pennsylvania, in the United States. Measuring 2,375 feet (724 m) long and towering 240 feet (73 m) when measured from the creek bed (300 feet (91 m) from bedrock), it was the largest concrete structure in the world when completed in 1915[3] and still merited "the title of largest concrete bridge in America, if not the world" 50 years later.[4]

Built by the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad (DL&W), the bridge is owned today by Norfolk Southern Railway[5] and is used daily for regular through freight service.

The DL&W built the viaduct as part of its 39.6-mile (63.7 km) Nicholson Cutoff, which replaced a winding and hilly section of the route between Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Binghamton, New York, saving 3.6 miles (5.8 km), 21 minutes of passenger train time, and one hour of freight train time. The bridge was designed by the DL&W's Abraham Burton Cohen;[6] other key DL&W staff were G. J. Ray, chief engineer; F. L. Wheaton, engineer of construction; and C. W. Simpson, resident engineer in charge of the construction. The contractor was Flickwir & Bush, including general manager F. M. Talbot and superintendent W. C. Ritner.[7]


Construction on the bridge began in May 1912 by excavating all 11 bridge piers to bedrock, which was up to 138 feet (42 m) below ground. In total, excavation for the viaduct removed 13,318,000 cubic yards (10,182,000 m3) of material, more than half of that rock.

Almost half of the bulk of the bridge is underground. At mid-construction, 80,000 cubic yards (61,000 m3) of concrete had gone into its substructures, and it was estimated that construction would require 169,000 cubic yards (129,000 m3) of concrete and 1,140 short tons (1,030 t) of steel.[8] The steel estimate proved accurate; the bridge ultimately used a bit less concrete than expected: 167,000 cubic yards (128,000 m3).[7]

The bridge was dedicated on November 6, 1915, along with the opening of the Nicholson Cutoff.[9][10]

Construction photos along with a short history of the bridge were published by the Nicholson Area Library in a brochure in 1976.[11] It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on April 11, 1977.[1]

Since 1990,[12] the local community has celebrated the building of the bridge on the second Sunday of September with "Nicholson Bridge Day", a street fair, parade, and other activities.[13] A 100th-anniversary celebration is planned for September 2015.[14]


See also


  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places.  
  2. ^ "PHMC Historical Markers". Historical Marker Database. Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission. Retrieved December 20, 2013. 
  3. ^ Jackson, Donald C.; Yearby, Jean P. (1968). "Erie-Lackawanna Railroad, Tunkhannock Viaduct, Nicholson, Wyoming County, PA". Historic American Engineering Record. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress. p. 1. Retrieved November 29, 2014. 
  4. ^ Norfolk Southern completes acquisition of Delaware & Hudson South Line, PRNewswire, September 18, 2015
  5. ^ "The Nicholson Bridge". 
  6. ^ a b Simpson, C. W. (March 1916). "Construction Methods on Viaducts Of The Lackawanna Railroad Over Tunkhannock and Martins Creeks". Water and Sewage Works (Indianapolis, Indiana: Engineering Publishing Company). 50-51: 94–98. Retrieved December 1, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Progress of Tunkhannock Viaduct Construction on D., L. & W. Relocation". Engineering Record 68 (22): 594. November 29, 1913. 
  8. ^ "Northeast Pennsylvania, Nicholson Viaduct". 
  9. ^
  10. ^ "The Bridge Was Built," Nicholson Area Library, 1976.
  11. ^ Baker, Robert L. (September 7, 2011). "100 years in the making". Wyoming County Press Examiner. Retrieved September 6, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Nicholson Bridge Day". 
  13. ^

Further reading

  • Plowden, David (2002). Bridges: The Spans of North America. New York, NY: W.W. Norton and Company. 
  • Taber, Thomas Townsend (1998). The Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad in the Twentieth Century, Volume 1. Scranton, PA: Steamtown Volunteer Association. pp. 39–52. 
  • "Tunkhannock Viaduct". ASCE History and Heritage of Civil Engineering. Retrieved 2009-11-02. 

External links

  • Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) No. PA-87, "Erie-Lackawanna Railroad, Tunkhannock Viaduct", 10 photos, 2 data pages, 1 photo caption page
  •, enthusiast site about the bridge and its environs
  • Tunkhannock Creek Viaduct at Structurae
  • Tunkhannock Viaduct, Engineering Projects at the American Society of Civil Engineers
  • Norfolk Southern Railway
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