Visiting the Tunkhannock Creek/Nicholson Viaduct; one of the largest stone railroad bridges in the world

Because we don’t want to travel a lot these days (since the world has lost its’ ever-loving mind) we have been checking out some of our local sites this summer. One of those was the Tunkhannock Creek Viaduct (railroad bridge) in Wyoming County, Pa. The bridge is also called the Nicholson Viaduct because it is located in Nicholson, Pa.

It isn’t like visiting a playground or a water park, but it’s something still worth traveling to see, especially when you find out that it is one of the largest stone railroad bridge crossings in the world. Built in 1912 and open for business in 1915 it is 2,375 feet long and 24 feet wide. It is 240 feet above stream level and 300 feet above bedrock.

As we were driving toward it I could tell the kids and my husband were wondering when we would arrive at it. It had been years since I had been there but I knew there was no way we could miss it by traveling on that road. You can’t miss a 300 foot stone structure that rises above the highway and the little town of Nicholson.

According to the Nicholson Heritage Association, the project used 185,000 barrels of cement which produced 67,000 cubic yards of concrete. About 1,140 tons of steel were used to reinforce the concrete. The bridge was built to endure 6,000 pounds per square foot, since some engines at that weighed 233 tons. The bridge cost $1,735,000 to build.

There were about 500 men who worked on the bridge and less than half of them were skilled laborers. Many of them were farmers who worked on the bridge during the winter or when it wasn’t a busy harvest season. The men worked 24 hours using dynamite, steam shovels, and a cement mixer that was built on site. The bridge was born by the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad, who wouldn’t allow the dynamite to be transported on their railway so the Lehigh Railroad transported the dynamite to Springville and then it was carried the rest of the way by horse and wagon.

There are 12 arches and 10 of them are 180 feet across.

According to the heritage association: “In Theodore Dreiser’s 1916 travel biography, he called the bridge: “A thing colossal and impressive. Those arches! How really beautiful they were. How symmetrically planned! And the smaller arches above, how delicate and lightsomely graceful! It is odd to stand in the presence of so great a thing in the making and realize that you are looking at one of the true wonders of the world.” Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and former President Theodore Roosevelt were among the many people that came to view the bridge.

If you would like to learn more about the viaduct you can visit the site for the heritage association.

We also saw some beautiful scenery as we drove to the viaduct and on the way back we visited a small playground because my daughter was missing playgrounds.

15 thoughts on “Visiting the Tunkhannock Creek/Nicholson Viaduct; one of the largest stone railroad bridges in the world

  1. Pingback: Sunday Bookends: slow summer days, slow reading, slow everything – Boondock Ramblings

  2. Looks like a fun trip! Reminds me of driving for miles and just seeing grass and trees when we spend 3 years living in Maryland and Pennsylvania. These days, I really miss all that open space! And my kids would be so jealous about the playground. All of ours have been closed since March, complete with yellow tape all around them. So glad you and your family were able to have a fun day out!

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    • It’s a gorgeous area and if you head that way I can tell you a couple places to eat. I highly recommend driving about a half an hour past Nicholson and going to Tunkhannock where this is a restaurant called Twigs Cafe. The food is sooo good.

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