The Ehrmentraut Farm Bridge is easily one of the oldest and most unique bridges in the entire United States, and that kind of distinction is something that piques my interest. There isn’t exactly a ton of information out there on the internet about old bridges on private property, but I’ve managed to piece together its pretty cool history, and then went to check it out myself…
Located just off Chili Ave Extension , between Attridge and Stuart Road, the Black Creek meanders to a point where it’s just a few feet from the side of the road. I did walk across it, mostly so I could get closer to such an incredible piece of history and get a closer look at the construction, but I was careful to note that I was on private property and didn’t hang around too long.
The bridge uses a unique arch system which is named for the architect himself, Squire Whipple . Whipple is the holder of a couple patents, one of which is his famed ‘Whipple Arch’, where the top chord on the bowed arch is wider at the base and narrows as it reaches its peak. Born in 1804, Whipple was just beginning his architectural studies and designing breakthrough technology at a time when it was most needed. When the Erie Canal opened in 1825, it made traveling East and West in Upstate NY an easy feat. Unfortunately, going North and South now required bridges, and Whipple’s patents can still be seen scattered in certain parts of the state.
The Ehrmentraut Farm Bridge was built in 1859 and originally existed in the canal town of Brockport . It was about twice the width at that time because it had three trusses. Later in 1880 it was moved a little bit east of Brockport and made into the two-truss web that you can see in these photos. Later in 1905, the Erie Canal was widened (and renamed to be the New York State Barge Canal ) and this bridge was far too short to still be useful.
The next five years I can’t seem to account for, but in 1910 a farmer in Riga purchased the bridge and placed it over Black Creek so he could gain access from his farm to the nearby road.
Though the bridge has aged beautifully and there were tire tracks that seemed to indicate it had recently seen a vehicle cross over it, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t just a tad nervous of a few of those boards and their ability to hold me and my iPhone from plunging into the Black Creek 😉
Info and some photos at the Library of Congress
(note: LOC has the spelling incorrect)
About Chris Clemens:
Tags: architecture, bridge, bridges, Brockport, Chris Clemens, Ehrmentraut Farm Bridge, Erie Canal, history of Rochester, New York State Barge Canal, Riga, Rochester, Rochester history, Rochester NY, Squire Whipple, The Curious and Uncommon, Whipple Arch
This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 18th, 2013 at 2:09 pm and is filed under Reader Submitted Stories, Rochester Destinations, Rochester History, Rochester Images, Transit + Infrastructure. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.