Sunday, January 17, 2010

Niagara Falls Ice Bridge, 2010

below: Jan.9, 2010 - looking at the Niagara River, with the Rainbow Bridge in the distance. At the bottom right, on the rock just above the water line, are seen the remains of two footings on the U.S. side which once supported the Honeymoon (aka the 'Fallsview', or, the 'Upper Steel Arch') Bridge. A massive ice jam on Jan.27, 1938 knocked this bridge into the gorge. In this view, the river is still clear of ice; but, just three days later . . . click on photos to enlarge!
above: Jan.12, 2010 - the river (still running underneath) is now iced-over right across, as the two above photos show; the Ice Bridge formed that quickly. How much bigger it gets will depend on the temperature.
above: (photo c.late 1890's - this is the the same view as the previous above photos, when the Honeymoon Bridge was still standing, the same footings are seen in the upper-right distance. We are looking here at the south side of the bridge (the side which faced towards the American and Horseshoe Falls)The U.S.A. is on the distant bank.

The footings, seen at the upper right, are quite close to the water - and this was before the river's water levels were reduced through the new hydro diversion projects which were still to come in the 1900's.
Note at the far left, as the Great Gorge Route streetcar heads into Canada from the States, as well as the horses pulling carriages. The Honeymoon Bridge was built in 1897-98, and owned by the streetcar-system operator, the IRC.

It's interesting to note that even in 1899 - only a year after the Honeymoon Bridge was built - its abutments had already been threatened by an ice jam that was 80 feet high, which had to be blasted away to protect the bridge. The bridge survived, and its abutments were strengthened the following summer; thus protecting the bridge for almost four more decades until that fateful Jan. of 1938.

Look closely at the photo above, and note that the abutments, as seen on the U.S. side, are standing on individual piers; in the next four shots below, the same abutments are now seen embedded in a mass of rock/concrete/stone - this was most likely the reinforcement work which was done after the 1899 ice threat; and, this would also help date the "circa 1890's" photo above more accurately to be from either 1897 or 1898 (ie, before the pier remediation).
above: Jan.22, 2010 - closer look at the old Honeymoon Bridge footings (seen at the centre-right) in relation to the much higher footings of its replacement, the Rainbow Bridge, around 500 feet away to the left.
The Adams tailrace discharge tunnel, built in 1892, still spills water into the lower Niagara. But this discharge is not plain river water any more, as had been the case when the Edward Dean Adams generating stations were still working, on the American side of the Niagara River, above the Falls, at Port Day. The Adams and the Schoellkopf generating stations were both closed in 1961.
In the mid 1970's, the deco-styled Ashland Ave. sewage treatment plant (see photos a bit further below) was demolished, and a relay station was built on its site, to pump the sewage which had formerly been treated there, up to Port Day for treatment (to where the original Adams Number 1 and 2 power stations had once stood).
A new sewage treatment facility was built at the old Adams 1 and 2 site. The existing Adams brick discharge tunnel from 1892 (...which originally carried away the river water, after it had passed through the Adams' turbines at Port Day...) was then repurposed, and used to drain the treated waste-water back down to the river - - so now you know what that water is, which constantly pours out of the Adams tunnel! When the waste water pours out of the Adams tunnel, it often has a steely-greyish/bluish tinge to it, whereas the Niagara River water (usually, but not always) has an emerald/blue-hued colour to it.
above: Jan.22, 2010 - closer view of the Honeymoon Bridge footings on the American side; note their relation to the already-forming ice on the river below. To the left, some water still flows from what was originally the discharge tunnel of the old Adams hydro stations.
above: Jan.22, 2010 - closer view of the left (northern) bridge abutment on the U.S. side; the Adams tunnel is at the left. Note the original cut-stone pier, which had once stood on its own, is now only partially visible under the steel footing; the mass now surrounding it to the right is the concrete reinforcement work done after the 1899 ice scare.
above: Jan.22, 2010 - a closer view of the right (southern) abutment of the doomed Honeymoon Bridge on the U.S. side; note the jagged steel plates visible on the abutment, which now sits shifted to the left, as it had been pushed by the ice. Except for the top stone plate (partially still seen at the bottom), the rest of the cut stone pier on the south side is not visible, now embedded in the remedial reinforcement mass.
above: Mar.1, 2010 - looking under the old Honeymoon Bridge's U.S.-side footings as the thick winter ice melts; the artificially-lowered water-level of the Niagara River reveals rocks which are hidden under water during the summer. The water-level of the lower Niagara River drops due to river-water being diverted from upstream (above the Falls) for hydro-generating purposes; this diversion is increased during winter. Note blue arrow at the bottom left, above the ducks [click photos to enlarge]: that is a chunk of a steel girder remaining from the collapsed Honeymoon Bridge, still laying in the water, and which is occasionally exposed when the water level drops.
above: this view looks along the south-side of the Honeymoon Bridge, towards Canada, from the U.S. side.
The date of this particular photo is not known, but: it is interesting to note that the Oakes Garden (work on which began in late 1935, officially opening on Sept.18, 1937) is clearly visible at the centre-left; and, that the Clifton Gate Memorial Arch (which "officially" opened Jun.18, 1938 (but was substantially completed earlier than that date - see more here) is also visible [it's the white tower almost directly in the centre of the photo, immediately to the left of the bridge entrance].
This is interesting because the Honeymoon Bridge collapsed into the Niagara River on Jan.27, 1938!
Given these known dates, and seeing that the trees in the above shot are still in full-leaf, then I would say this photo could not have been taken in 1938 (...because in Jan.1938, the trees could not have been in full leaf!).
The latest date that this photo could have been taken (...with the Honeymoon Bridge intact, with the Clifton Arch already substantially complete, and with the trees still in full leaf, all in the same photo...) would have been in the autumn, around Oct.-Nov, of 1937.
If that is the case, and if this photos is from the autumn of 1937, then it is also interesting to see the extent to which Oakes Gardens and the Clifton Gate Memorial Arch had already taken shape, still in 1937.
Seeing as construction of the Oakes Garden started in late 1935, it is remotely possible that this photo is from 1936, but I do not believe that the Clifton Arch had been started yet in 1936, so that points to the above photo having been taken probably in the summer, or in the fall, of 1937)

So, there was a brief time when visitors, arriving into Canada from the Honeymoon Bridge, did see the Memorial Arch (although it was still 'under-construction and not yet 'officially opened') standing to their left, on River Rd,. as they exited the bridge!
btw, it looks like there's a small boat in the river along the Canadian side at the bottom left!
below: Jan.27, 1938 at 4:20 p.m., amazing photo of the Honeymoon Bridge as it collapses into the Niagara River ice sheet. This photo was taken by Frank O. Seed, the only photographer to have captured the actual moment that the bridge fell.

above: probably Jan.27, 1938 or very shortly thereafter: a small crowd gathers on River Rd. at what had been the Honeymoon Bridge entrance, looking down at the now-collapsed bridge, which is seen laying on the ice sheet below. The 'still-not-officially-opened-at-the-time' Clifton Gate Memorial Arch is clearly seen standing at the bottom right, appearing to be pretty much completed, although it would still be several months later, on Jun.18, 1938, before its "official" opening. At the bottom left is the rear of the Terminal Tower.
above: a closer view of the collapsed Honeymoon Bridge laying on the massive 1938 Ice Bridge which brought it down. Note the streetcar-wire posts still standing on the deck.
Despite salvage efforts, the fallen bridge sat on the ice until spring, when the ice sheet began to soften up.

On Apr.12, 1938, at 8:20 a.m., as the ice softened, a large part of the bridge, laying on the American side, comprising about half of the steel-arch, sank where it had fallen; shortly thereafter, another part closer to the U.S. side sank. These bridge pieces joined the sunken remains of the First Suspension Bridge, which had been located on this very same spot, and which had also collapsed into the river due to a windstorm in 1889.

The bridge portion laying on the ice at the Canadian side, astoundingly, did not sink on the same day as the American portion; it remained where it had fallen, still on top of the ice, until the following day; then, rather than sinking on the spot as the ice continued to slowly break up, at about 3:25 p.m. on Apr.13, 1938, the bridge began floating downriver, still on top of the now-moving ice floe!
The bridge was carried downriver on the moving ice until it sank (on Apr.13, 1938, at 4:05 p.m.) in a deep part of the river north of the Schoellkopf power station - see here as the bridge floats by the U.S. power station!
below: Apr.13, 1938 at about 4:05 pm - this is one of the last photos taken of the Honeymoon Bridge, seen in the middle of the Niagara River just before it sank. This location is directly in front the Deco-styled Ashland Ave. Sewage Treatment Plant (seen at the right, on the American side, which opened in 1938 and was demolished in 1974.). In less than an hour, the ice floe had carried the remnants of the Honeymoon Bridge almost a mile downriver, from where it had collapsed nearly three months earlier. This photo looking out across the river was taken from River Rd. at Otter St,. on the Canadian side.

above: here's the exact same view, Oct.29, 2010 - the imposing old water treatment building is long gone, and the site, now known as the Gorge Pumping Station, is actually still active: it no longer treats sewage on the spot (as the old deco-styled facility did), but pumps it back up to Port Day, to a newer facility above the Horseshoe Falls, built on the site of the old Adams power plant (as was detailed  earlier in this post). Note that the stepped foundations of the old deco building can be still seen rising up the slope.
The old sunken Honeymoon Bridge still remains here, at the bottom of the Niagara River.
Photo by R.Bobak
above: Feb.23, 2009 - to give you an idea of the kind of ice floe which could have easily supported the remnant of the old Honeymoon Bridge in 1938, here is a photo of just the same, typical kind of chunk of river ice floating downstream (towards the camera).
Note (at the left mid-upper left, along the U.S. side) there is a long trail outlined by snow, which can be seen running across the face of the gorge slope: this is the rail right-of-way of the former Great Gorge streetcar route.
This circular-route started with eastbound streetcars crossing the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge (from Canada to the U.S.), then running south (upriver along the American side) on scenic tracks low by the river, slowly rising in elevation as they approached the top of the gorge at Niagara Falls, N.Y. From there they would cross westbound over the Honeymoon Bridge, returning back into Canada, then head northwards along the Canadian high slope all the way back down to the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge, where the loop would begin again.
In this photo, the track right of way is clearly seen ascending. The tracks eventually passed over the top of the Ashland Ave. Sewage Treatment Plant site, and reached the top of the gorge at a point just slightly south of the treatment plant, near Spruce Ave..
Years of rock falls have since obliterated much of the old track right of way.
below: Apr.11, 1909, the Ontario Power Company generating station is seen jammed with ice between generating units 2 and 3. Massive river ice  in 1909 and in 1938 caused severe damage to this generating station, located down in the gorge on the Canadian side, just above river-level.
above: a view of the Ontario Power Company's ice-jammed generator floor, taken in Feb.1938, during the same massive ice build-up that had brought down the Honeymoon Bridge in Jan. 1938.
below: ca.1890 - looking across the ice bridge at the American Falls as "refreshment" (including liquor!) stands/saloons lined the ice surface, while visitors leisurely wandered around without a worry! (See more on the Niagara River Ice Bridge here)

At left is the incline railway on the American side, which led down to the "Shadow of the Rock" tourist concession. Though noted that this photo is "circa 1890", the concession which was here in the early 1890's had a rounded-roof base-building, which was destroyed by a double whammy of ice and fire in 1892; the building in the below photo seems to look more like the hip-roofed chalet-style replacement building, which was torn down after a Jul.6, 1907 accident where a cable on the incline broke, killing one person. With little other clues, this photo could be from between 1894 to 1907.

above: the same view, Jan.9, 2010: an observation tower (built in 1961, later renovated) stands at the left; the rock-cut of the old incline is still clearly visible. The tower provides access to the Maid of the Mist U.S. dock, a bit of which is seen at the left, just above the winter-water-line of the river. The area behind the tower is called Prospect Point, at the right are the American Falls.
above: Jan.9, 2010 - a closer view of the old incline cut.
below: another astounding photo by Frank O. Seed - the same photographer who sixteen years earlier was the only person to get that shot (seen earlier above) of the Jan.27, 1938 Honeymoon bridge collapse.
This photo, taken by Mr. Seed on Jul.28, 1954, at 4:50 p.m., shows the actual moment that an 185,000 ton chunk of Prospect Point sheared off the edge of the American Falls.
Mr. Seed's amazing shot captured the chunk of falling rock in mid-air; and actually shows the water - which seconds ago had been running along the river bed - still pouring off the now-unattached cliff edge!
The older above photos from the Niagara Falls, Ont. Library Archive; the recent photos by R. Bobak.
 I hope you enjoyed reading about these aspects of Niagara's past!
Thanks for visiting Right In Niagara!
See more on the 2011 Niagara River Ice Bridge here.
See more on the 2009 Niagara River Ice Bridge here.

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