Skip to main content

Bridges of Keeseville

Location: Keeseville, NY, USA
Date: 1878
Creator(s): Townsend, Soloman , Berlin Iron Bridge Company

A 214-foot single-span covered wooden bridge, built above the cribs of stone in the AuSable River that served to break log jams and ice floes, collapsed during the winter of 1875 under the weight of a three-foot snowfall and high winds. The "Upper Bridge" (pictured) was built in its place.

Three bridges were built over the AuSable River in Keeseville, within a half-mile of each other. Each represents a distinctly different engineered solution. One bridge is constructed of stone masonry in compression, one wrought iron in tension and compression, and one of steel in tension. Each bridge was tailored to its anticipated loads and the constraints of its site, and each reflects the materials and design technology of its period.

In an era known for "monumental" structures such as the Brooklyn Bridge, the bridges of Keeseville symbolize a different - though equally important - facet of 19th-century bridge-building practice. 

The hundreds of thousands of smaller railroad, highway, and pedestrian bridges of the period reflect a more vernacular tradition, and were built by engineers and entrepreneurs unknown to most of us. Yet it was these little bridges that replaced the ford and ferry and that made transportation feasible for the vast segment of the population.

Tags: Era: 1870-1879
Innovation designated by:
Public Domain (Released by Creator)
The Keeseville Suspension Bridge built 1888, Keeseville, one of the three "Bridges of Keeseville" that span the AuSable River
AuSable River
Keeseville, NY, USA

AuSable River

We hope you enjoyed this essay.

Please support America's only magazine of the history of engineering and innovation, and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to Invention & Technology.


Stay informed - subscribe to our newsletter.
The subscriber's email address.