Norfolk Southern . Portageville Viaduct & Iron Bridge at Mile Post SR 361.66 . Genesee River . New York . Watercolor . 18" x 12"
... the Norfolk Southern Railroad's Portageville Viaduct is 820 feet long and 240 feet above the Genesee River... located slightly above the upper falls in Letchworth State Park, New York. The first rail bridge at this location was a wooden trestle structure, built by the Erie Railroad in 1852... which stood until it burned to the ground in 1875. At that time it had been the largest wood bridge in the world. The second viaduct (illustrated, existing as of March, 2016), is a wrought iron, replacement bridge also built by the Erie and opened in the same year. In 1910, Letchworth Park was created along the Genesee River and the bridge was included within its boundaries. In 1903 the structure received additional truss span and girder support and then again in 1940 it underwent more structural repair. After leasing trackage rights for many years, Norfolk Southern, the present owner, purchased the bridge in 2014, so that it could better control its maintenance. The bridge is now at the end of its service life and work has begun on a third Portage Bridge... to be a single spandrel-braced arch design. The new bridge will parallel the existing viaduct and is expected to be completed in 2018, at which time a new track will become active and this old trestle bridge will be removed and scrapped.
... I thought I had better get up there and paint it before she disappears. It was a cold, late March day... early spring of 2016... mist from the upper falls coated the east wall of the gorge in ice... and then a Norfolk Southern freight crawled over at the very sedate, load limited, 10mph speed limit.