Go Back   The Whistle Post - Model Railroad Forum > Railfans! > Railfan General Discussion
Home Register FAQ Members List Social Groups Donate Chat! Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read


Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1 (permalink)  
Old 10-08-2010, 03:33 AM
Fireman
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Staten Island, NY
Posts: 20
Paulsboro Movable Bridge

[Update to fix the attachment problem]

Hello folks,

This is to relate info about railroading in the town I grew up in, specifically, about a movable RR bridge over an inconsequential estuary that forms the Northern border of this Southern New Jersey town.
Paulsboro sits on the Eastern bank of the Delaware River, about 14 miles South of Philadelphia, in Gloucester County. That region of the state is riddled with tidal swamps and estuaries that flow westward into the Delaware from springs and other water table sources more to the East of the region. Most of Southern New Jersey was, when I was younger there, agricultural land, with a major frozen produce processing center in Bridgeton (Seabrook Farms). But along the Delaware coast, Gloucester and Salem counties proved to be able to provide excellent shipping port resources, feeding into Delaware Bay and ultimately, the Atlantic. Thus, captains of energy and chemistry established large refining and chemical production plants along the coast. Furthermost South, the Dupont Corporation built one of its principal chemical production and R&D sites at Pennsgrove (called "Chambers, Works" - it had it's own on-site narrow gauge rail hauling system). North of Paulsboro, in Westville, Texaco operated its "Eagle Point" refinery. And in Paulsboro itself there operated the "Socony Mobile-Vacuum" (as we called it), a huge refinery owned by Mobil Oil.

Now the rail system in South Jersey, in the early and mid 20th century, provided a prolific set of routes, serving both passengers and freight. The backbone of these lines were the routes to the Jersey shore resorts from Philadelphia and New York. Early in the century, two major railroads competed for fares to the shore - the Pennsy and the Reading - and, they both had their own right-of-ways, the Pennsy taking a Northern route heading Southeast to Atlantic City, with a branch-off at Winslow Jct. for resorts further South (Ocean City, Wildwood, Cape May).

The Reading terminus for its shore traffic was in Camden NJ (directly across the river from Philadelphia) and it used a parallel right-of-way to the South of the Pennsy that ran through Clementon before reaching its shore destinations. The Reading had also acquired the many small trunk lines serving the agricultural southern counties. Ultimately, these two companies combined to form the Pennsylvania Reading Seashore Lines RR (PRSL), which took over all the lines in southern New Jersey in the 1930's. A major branch of the PRSL serviced the southwest coast of the state, serving the industries and ports along the Delaware River and Bay.

And, while many of the bifurcations of the PRSL in Gloucester, Salem, Cumberland, and Cape May counties were ultimately abondoned, the Pennsgrove branch, the one that runs through Paulsboro and serves the ports and industries, has remained profitable and is now a part of the Conrail octopus.

But, that line has been around for a long time (Paulsboro once had a passenger station, and its Delaware river front was once a tourist destination), and the builders of the railroad needed to do something about that inconsequential creek that bounded the town on its Northern border - the Mantua Creek. It seems there was a need - a small one - but still, a need to allow boat traffic to navigate the Mantua.

And so was built the Paulsboro Moveable Bridge for the railroad. There are conflicting accounts as to the age of this wonder. One account puts it into the late 19th century, while another dates it to 1917.

It is an A-frame deck-girder swing bridge, originally manually operated, but automated for remote operation some time in the last decade or two. Here is a pic of it:



(In the pic, the bridge is in the "open" position - open for boat traffic).

Some time last year, there was an incident caused by structural failure of the bridge. A crossing train derailed and several freight cars tore up the rails for several yards along the right-of-way South of the bridge in Paulsboro. Inspections revealed a partial collapse of the bridge deck. One of the stringers (attached to the top of the "A" - you can see them in the photo) had also snapped. The newspapers speculated that the old stringers had fatigued and had given way when the train crossed.

But I knew better. I knew the cause right off, having an understanding of the engineering principles behind the bridge: it was compromise of the abutment support function. You see, that A-frame and those stringer cables do not support the weight of a train when the bridge is "closed" (closed for boat traffic, open for rail traffic). In that position, the "deck" (the part that can swing open) rests on the abutments so that the bridge functions in that position as a simple deck girder bridge, with girders supported at both ends by pilings or whatever. The A-frame and stringer cables are only called upon to support the deck when it is in the "open for boats" position. The stringer cable snapped when the abutment gave way somewhat and the weight of the train caused a shifting of the deck in its closed position, putting too much stress on those cables. I've learned through a friend who lives in Paulsboro, that the bridge was repaired (not replaced - whew!), and so, its simple, elegant design that has allowed it to work for a century (or maybe more than a century), marches on.

Many years ago, when I was doing some modeling, I wanted to try to model it and perhaps develop plans for a Model Railroader article on modeling the bridge. Unfortunately, that never came about. And I no longer live in Paulsboro.

But , perhaps, some master modeler who visits this site might try their hand at it. I'm not an engineer, and I haven't the slightest idea where one could find blueprints, but I can give you one design hint: that "A" frame structure does not stride the tracks at a 90 degree angle, but rather sits on a vector that bisects the rails at about a 15 to 25 degree offset (from 90 degrees), with the "furtherest away" leg on the right side of the rails (in the photo). Also notice that the "A" is asymmetrical.

Anyway, this is a bridge of historical significance, I feel, and one I always felt should be modeled (BTW, there was an identical bridge along that line over Oldman's Creek in Pedricktown, but authorities long ago declared that waterway closed to bigger boats and the bridge was replaced with a fixed deck girder type crossing - so the Paulsboro bridge is the last remaining example of this moveable type).

As far as I know, it's still there, still functions (although, there's not much boat traffic these days), and anyone who's in South Jersey and might be interested in replicating this, please do visit Paulsboro and have a look.

[update] Photo attachment failed. look for second attempt downthread.

Last edited by msirt; 10-12-2010 at 08:46 AM. Reason: Grammar
Reply With Quote
  #2 (permalink)  
Old 10-09-2010, 03:20 AM
TallDude's Avatar
Dispatcher /Administrator
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Belleair, FL
Posts: 4,722
Send a message via MSN to TallDude Send a message via Yahoo to TallDude Send a message via Skype™ to TallDude
Can you try uploading that photo again? Interesting stuff!!
__________________
Kevin Morris

Tell your friends about http://www.thewhistlepost.com


Reply With Quote
  #3 (permalink)  
Old 10-10-2010, 04:22 PM
Fireman
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Staten Island, NY
Posts: 20
Second upload attempt

I Hope this works
Attached Thumbnails
Paulsboro Movable Bridge-paulsbormovablebridge.jpg  
Reply With Quote
  #4 (permalink)  
Old 10-10-2010, 04:47 PM
Fireman
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Staten Island, NY
Posts: 20
Arial View Link

Here's a quick link to a satellite view:

Paulsboro Movable Bridge - Wikimapia USA
Reply With Quote
  #5 (permalink)  
Old 10-10-2010, 04:52 PM
Fireman
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Staten Island, NY
Posts: 20
Broadside View

Go here for a broadside shot with conrail consist crossing:

CSX 8829
Reply With Quote
PLEASE REGISTER
If this is your first visit to The Whistle Post - Model Railroad Forum please take the time to register. Registration is required for you to post on the forums. Registration will also give you the ability to track messages of interest, send private messages to other users, and view the full contents of TheWhistlePost.com including the Photo Gallery, Video/Audio/Text Chat, Classified Ads, Photo Contests, Social Groups, and more! Registration is free and takes just a few seconds to complete. If you have any problems with the registration process or your account login, please read FAQ. Thanks for joining us! We look forward to chatting with you and seeing your layout!

Click here to join our community.

If you are already a registered member on the forums, please login above to gain full access to the site.
  #6 (permalink)  
Old 10-10-2010, 06:51 PM
Eastern Roads's Avatar
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Howell, New Jersey
Posts: 7,610
Smile What an archaic thing that is!!

I was trying like crazy to come up with a GOOD pic of the thing, and the closest I came up with was the local Fire Department website: Welcome to Paulsboro Fire Department

Seeing the big UP loco going over it sure gives a sense that the bridge is on the small side!

This thing would be a trip to model!! (Maybe after the Dinosaur...)
__________________
Mike, a.k.a Eastern Roads
President, CEO, CFO, MOW Chief, Painter, Janitor Penn-Haven Central RR
Where Alcos, Fairbanks-Morse, Baldwins, EMD's and the rare GE live on
Reply With Quote
  #7 (permalink)  
Old 10-10-2010, 07:25 PM
Fireman
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Staten Island, NY
Posts: 20
Great Find!

Thanks, Mike for the link to the wreck pics site. That really fills me in a great deal about what happened.

I was so glad to hear the bridge was repaired and is functional again. I'm over 65 now, but, as a railfan yourself, you can imagine me as a teenage resident of Paulsboro hangin' about the place an awful lot.

My memory is dim now, so I'm not sure I remember that ship's wheel capstan as the manual mechanism mover, and I wonder, since the operation of the swing is now from a remote location (Mumbai, India, I think! ;-)), whether they've left the one in the pics as a decoration, or, perhaps it still functions to move the deck if the motors break down.

Anyway, thanks for posting that. Should I cross-post this article to threads on the modeler's side of WP, or shall we leave it here in a bit more obscurity and give you first crack at modeling it?
Reply With Quote
  #8 (permalink)  
Old 10-10-2010, 07:41 PM
Fireman
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Staten Island, NY
Posts: 20
Built in 1873!

Just noticed the dating of the span in the fire department article link posted by Mike. 1873! Wow, it's 137 years old! 2009 was its first support malfunction, and after repairs (which took about a month), it's still functioning today.

Pretty good engineering, I'd say.
Reply With Quote
  #9 (permalink)  
Old 10-10-2010, 07:58 PM
Eastern Roads's Avatar
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Howell, New Jersey
Posts: 7,610
Smile It works here

Mike, the location of where you have this is just fine.

137 years is pretty decent, for sure! I know they didn't think SD-70M's would be cruising over the thing, but, then again, they had some pretty heavy steamers cruising over it.

Now that you've shown it, this will have to go on my list of "RR things to see" in NJ!
__________________
Mike, a.k.a Eastern Roads
President, CEO, CFO, MOW Chief, Painter, Janitor Penn-Haven Central RR
Where Alcos, Fairbanks-Morse, Baldwins, EMD's and the rare GE live on

Last edited by Eastern Roads; 10-10-2010 at 08:01 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #10 (permalink)  
Old 10-10-2010, 09:28 PM
ak-milw's Avatar
Moderator
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Camp Douglas, Wisconsin
Posts: 9,769
Send a message via MSN to ak-milw
There are a few bridges like that on the Mississippi River out side of La Crosse, Wisconsin


__________________

Andy Kramer, Modeling the Milwaukee Road in Wisconsin--- The Milwaukee Road is alive and well and running in my basement!
MRHA member since 2003
www.milwaukeemodelers.net
Reply With Quote
PLEASE REGISTER
If this is your first visit to The Whistle Post - Model Railroad Forum please take the time to register. Registration is required for you to post on the forums. Registration will also give you the ability to track messages of interest, send private messages to other users, and view the full contents of TheWhistlePost.com including the Photo Gallery, Video/Audio/Text Chat, Classified Ads, Photo Contests, Social Groups, and more! Registration is free and takes just a few seconds to complete. If you have any problems with the registration process or your account login, please read FAQ. Thanks for joining us! We look forward to chatting with you and seeing your layout!

Click here to join our community.

If you are already a registered member on the forums, please login above to gain full access to the site.
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Weathering The Kato Single Track Truss Bridge powersteamguy1790 Kato Unitrack Users Group 0 08-31-2010 08:41 PM
PS&P Bridge Rhearn4 Railfan Photos 7 09-23-2009 08:33 PM
North Jersey Coast Line Eastern Roads Train Stories 12 09-23-2009 07:53 AM
Bridge railing jack Tips, Tricks, and Techniques! 3 08-10-2009 09:12 AM
new bridge domiluk The Caboose 6 04-02-2009 08:26 PM


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 08:33 PM.


vBulletin style developed by Transverse Styles

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.2
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Search Engine Optimization by vBSEO 3.6.0


X Static Development
Website is designed and maintained by X Static Development.com

Geo Visitors Map

Copyright 2006-2014, TheWhistlePost.com

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63