Saturday, August 30, 2014
The Niagara Suspension Bridge Shell
I found this interesting shell about 25 years ago in Burtonsville, Md. while working as an assistant to a surveyor. I would compute the formulas in the field in order to get a quick “traverse” of the properties we surveyed. This was before the computer stuff took over. I was good at it due to my experience as a Quartermaster in the Navy and later as a Navigators Assistant while serving as Third Mate in the Merchant Marine.
Anyway, there was an old mobile home on one property and I went in to look around; maybe see what treasures might have been left behind; expecting nothing. I found this in the kitchen area and it evoked in me the scene from “Grapes of Wrath” where Jane Darwell is going through her old memory chest and finds the pin from the St. Louis Exposition of 1903. It must have meant a great deal to someone a long time ago.
At the time internet was still in its infancy and I couldn't find out too much about this bridge, which of course was long gone. While reading a book today I came across an item mentioning that James Roebling had built a suspension bridge over the Niagara in 1855. I Googled it and came up with a wonderful Wikipedia article on it. I wondered where the shell was and happily found it in our china closet, way in the rear where it could not be seen.
The bridge was taken down in 1897 which finally gives me an age for the shell. It is from the 1890’s or older. And the illustration is so much like the one etched in the shell that I wanted to share it. For more on this brige and it’s remarkable history hit the link;
Meantime the shell is now out of the closet so to speak, and occupies a prominent place on the piano.