Two Bridges Over Troubled Water

Well this week's Sepia Saturday prompt shows a flood. How's this for a flood? What we have here are a highway and railway bridge about to be washed away. Or were they really washed away?

The highway is US Route 3 or the Daniel Webster Highway, as it is known locally, over the Baker River in Plymouth, New Hampshire. The railway bridge is the Boston and Maine (B&M) - New Hampshire division line that ran from Lowell Massachusetts all the way to Lincoln, NH pretty much following the Merrimack and Pemigewasset River valleys.

flood baker river plymouth new hampshire
Photo: Boston Public Library - Flickr
It is quite difficult to pinpoint a date in the older photos. There have been so many floods in this area. I would venture a guess as to be around the 1930's because the US highway system wasn't developed until that era.

It's interesting to see the tell-tale mast fallen across the tracks from flood erosion. Tell-tales served as warnings to anyone that might be on top of a rail car so they wouldn't crack their skull on the bridge supports ahead. Who would be stupid enough to be on top of a moving railroad car? Well the brakemen had to set brakes on each individual car before the age of air brakes that could be controlled by the engineer in the cab. The wheels for setting brakes were usually found on the tops of box cars.

In the bottom two photos you see the bridges did survive that flood and many others. You can also see that the Baker River is normally a very placid meandering river great for a leisurely paddle downstream on a warm summer day. The rail line is now abandoned, but on occasion a tourist train slowly ventures north to the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
bridges, plymouth, highway, rail
Photo: Google Earth Street View (click to magnify)
Photo: Google Earth Street View (click to magnify)
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