MILFORD, NJ – The bi-state Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission (DRJTBC) today announced that it plans to post another reel of archival silent movie footage from the 1933-34 construction of the current-day steel-truss Upper Black Eddy-Milford Bridge.
This is the second reel of 16 mm film stock recorded during the summer of 1933 at the bridge crossing between Upper Black Eddy, PA. and Milford, N.J. The film was recently digitized after being found in the Commission engineering department archives. It is scheduled to premiere on the agency’s YouTube channel Thursday, Dec. 22.
The link for the film footage will be: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CkGUgUXmoc
The soon-to-be-released silent footage shows a variety of tasks, including removal of remaining sections of a former wooden covered bridge, early construction activities on the steel replacement bridge, and damaging river flooding that crested on August 25, 1933.
The project was arranged by the former Joint Commission for Elimination of Toll Bridges – Pennsylvania-New Jersey (the “Joint Commission”), the predecessor agency to the DRJTBC. The work was funded jointly by the states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The states had acquired the bridge crossing in a 1929 in a purchase arranged by the former Joint Commission.
Not much is known about the film footage, such as what company or individual did the filming or how the footage came into the Bridge Commission’s possession. The most logical explanation is the filming was done for the Joint Commission and the footage was conveyed to the Bridge Commission after it replaced the former Joint Commission in late December 1934.
The footage marks a transition from demolition to construction in the execution of the Upper Black Eddy-Milford Bridge Reconstruction Project, which was carried out by the McClintic-Marshall Co. of Bethlehem, PA. under an $89,970 low-bid contract approved in March 1933. The procurement took place about 3-1/2 years after the Stock Market Crash of 1929 that triggered the Great Depression.
To carry out the project, the former wooden bridge at the location was shut down to traffic on June 5, 1933. McClintic-Marshall commenced erecting false works (to support the old wooden bridge’s removal and the erection of its steel replacement structure) two days later.
The bridge crossing was out of service for 223 days, ending with the new bridge opening to traffic during a driving rainstorm on January 13, 1934. The bridge construction project, however, was not finished until later in 1934 when painting was completed.
The steel bridge, which remains in operation to this day, is a three-span steel Warren through-truss structure with polygonal top chords and a concrete-filled steel grid road surface. The bridge has travel lanes in each direction and a walkway on the upstream side.
The steel bridge replaced a wooden covered bridge that served the area for roughly 91 years. The wooden bridge was constructed for the former Milford Delaware Bridge Company, a local shareholder-owned concern chartered under legislation enacted by New Jersey on March 8, 1839 and by Pennsylvania on June 24, 1839. The three-span wooden covered Burr-arch bridge was completed and opened as a privately tolled crossing on January 29, 1842. The bridge had cartways in each direction and flanking walkways on the upstream and downstream sides.
The covered bridge’s New Jersey-side span was destroyed during the Pumpkin Flood of October 1903. The Milford Delaware Bridge Co. replaced the missing span using some of the timbers salvaged from the former wooden Riegelsville Bridge, which was destroyed in that flood. The post-1903-flood timber Milford Bridge remained in service as a private toll bridge until June 28, 1929, when New Jersey and Pennsylvania jointly purchased the crossing and freed it of tolls in a purchase arranged by the former Joint Commission.
In June 1933, Joint Commission engineers determined that the wooden bridge needed to be replaced by a steel structure. The two states then provided funds to carry out the replacement. The resulting steel bridge was designed by Edwin W. Denzler, later the DRJTBC’s chief engineer.
Within a year of the new steel bridge’s opening, a newly constituted Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission assumed the responsibility of operating and maintain the bridge on behalf of the two states. This service arrangement continued for more than 52 years. On July 1, 1987, the two states conveyed ownership of the bridge outright to the DRJTBC. The Bridge Commission has since operated and maintained the bridge through a share of the money it collects each year at its toll bridges. This is the reason why the Commission now official refers to this bridge crossing as the Upper Black Eddy-Milford Toll-Supported Bridge.