Skip to main content

Massena Center Suspension Bridge

The Massena Center Bridge, also known as the Holton D. Robinson Bridge, has had quite the tumultuous history. Situated on the Grasse River just east of Massena, New York in the hamlet of Massena Center, the Massena Center Bridge is a reminder of the efforts the community has made in order to connect over the river.

The first and only other known bridge to be built at Massena Center was built in 1832, but that bridge was never long for this world. During the spring of 1833, the Grasse River dammed itself due to an ice dam, flooded and lifted the bridge off its foundation, destroying the bridge in the process.  The floods were frequent in the river during the spring, often backing up the river from Hogansburg and past Massena Center, but not to nearby Massena. After the first bridge disappeared, local residents had to resort to traveling seven miles west to Massena to cross the next closest bridge, and that was no easy task for a horse and buggy. However, it was many decades before a proposal to build a new bridge was formed.

The Town of Massena made its first official move in 1892 when town Supervisor Michael Flaherty filed a resolution with the proposing the construction of a bridge at Massena for $10,000. Flaherty's reasoning was from the complaints made by the citizens of eastern parts of the town, but the $10,000 would cover only the bridge, not any approaches to the bridge. In 1893, the subject was voted on in a vote by the town, but the bridge was voted down and the subject put to rest until 1909.

In 1909, a new proposal for the construction of a bridge at Massena Center was made for $30,000, and this time around, it was approved by the Massena Town Council. With the dawn of the age of the automobile, there was now a suitable need for a highway bridge to be constructed. Word of this new bridge project traveled back to Holton D. Robinson, who was making a name for himself as a prominent bridge engineer in New York City, Robinson born in Massena Center and attended St. Lawrence University in nearby Canton, before becoming a bridge engineer and had already helped design the Williamsburg and Manhattan Bridges between Brooklyn and Manhattan before the bridge project in Massena came to fruition.

Upon hearing about the Massena Center Bridge proposal, Robinson volunteered his time to come back to his hometown and help with the project. After some research, Roinson proposed the construction of a 600 foot suspension bridge with a design cost of $39,990, taking into account the need to build a bridge high enough to withstand the flooding from the ice dams downstream on the Grasse River. The Massena Town Council approved the bridge with the additional $9,990 required over the original $30,000 proposal. Robinson actually stepped down from his position as the chief engineer at the Glydon Contracting Company to come home to Massena Center and build the bridge, which construction beginning almost immediately.

The bridge itself and even its construction was considered unique for the time, and was shorter than most suspension bridges, being only 625 feet long with a 400 foot long main span, and a width of only 12 feet. The Massena Center Bridge would be built from start to finish in just under six months, with an official deadline of opening by January 1, 1910. The bridge was in service until 1976, but was generally considered obsolete when the nearby NY 131 bridge over the Grasse River opened in 1955. At that time, there was talk about removing the bridge, but soon after, St. Lawrence County took over maintenance of the bridge.

Currently, the Massena Center Bridge lies dormant, serving as a reminder of the area's history and its famous native son, Holton D. Robinson. There is talk of making the bridge open to pedestrians and cyclists, but currently the bridge is closed to everyone and there may not be any funds to restore the bridge to serve that capacity. Until then, it is still neat to view the bridge from the distance as it becomes weathered over the course of time.




Check out this video about the suspension bridge's history, courtesy of the Massena Center Historical Society:


How to Get There:


Sources and Links:
Historic Bridges - Massena Center Bridge
Massena Center Historical Society - Robinson Bridge
Courier Observer - Massena Center residents hoping for marker for historical suspension bridge

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Deer Isle Bridge in Maine

As graceful a bridge that I ever set my eyes upon, the Deer Isle Bridge (officially known as the Deer Isle-Sedgwick Bridge) surprisingly caught my eye as I was driving around coastal Maine one Saturday afternoon. About 35 miles south of Bangor, Maine , the Deer Isle Bridge connects the Blue Hill Peninsula of Downeast Maine with Little Deer Isle over the Eggemoggin Reach on ME 15 between the towns of Sedgwick and Deer Isle . It should be noted that Little Deer Isle is connected to Deer Isle by way of a boulder lined causeway, and there is a storied regatta that takes place on the Eggemoggin Reach each summer. But the Deer Isle Bridge holds many stories, not just for the vacationers who spend part of their summer on Deer Isle or in nearby Stonington , but for the residents throughout the years and the folks who have had a hand bringing this vital link to life.   The Deer Isle Bridge was designed by David Steinman and built by the Phoenix Bridge Company of Phoenixville,

Former US Route 99 through Athlone and the last Wheeler Ridge-Sacramento corridor expressway

Athlone was a siding of the Southern Pacific Railroad located in Merced County on the alignment of what was US Route 99 between the cities of Chowchilla and Merced.  The Athlone corridor of US Route 99 was one of the first in San Joaquin Valley to fully upgraded to four lane expressway standards.  The Athlone expressway corridor was inherited by California State Route 99 when US Route 99 was truncated to Ashland, Oregon during June 1965.  The four-lane expressway through Athlone was the last segment of what had been US Route 99 in the Wheeler Ridge-Sacramento corridor to be bypassed by a freeway.  The Athlone expressway corridor was bypassed by the modern California State Route 99 freeway in 2016.  Despite being put on a road diet and narrowed what was the Athlone expressway corridor still displays evidence of being part of US Route 99.   Above the blog cover photo displays the Athlone expressway corridor of US Route 99 south of Merced as depicted in the July 1939 California Highways &

California State Route 38

California State Route 38 is a fifty-nine-mile State Highway located entirety in San Bernardino County and a component of the Rim of the World Highway.  California State Route 38 begins at California State Route 18 at Bear Valley Dam of the San Bernardino Mountains and follows an easterly course on the north shore of Big Bear Lake.  California State Route 38 briefly multiplexes California State Route 18 near Baldwin Lake and branches east towards the 8,443-foot-high Onyx Summit.  From Onyx Summit the routing of California State Route 38 reverses course following a largely westward path through the San Bernardino Mountains towards a terminus at Interstate 10 in Redlands.   Pictured as the blog cover is California State Route 38 at Onyx Summit the day it opened to traffic on August 12th, 1961.   Part 1; the history of California State Route 38 California State Route 38 (CA 38) is generally considered to be the back way through the San Bernardino Mountains to Big Bear Lake of Bear Valley