Fort Montgomery in Orange County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
The Bridge Builders
The men who built the Bear Mountain Bridge had completed some of the most challenging construction projects of the period. Connected by educational institutions, bridge and engineering companies, and previous projects, all had risen through the ranks to the tops of their professions. Under their guidance, the bridge was built with unusual speed, at comparatively minimal cost, and without the loss of a single life. Techniques they developed during construction ushered in a golden age of suspension bridge design.
Howard Baird designed the Bear Mountain Bridge at the request of Frederick Tench, with whom he had worked on previous projects. Baird’s design documents allowed Terry & Tench Construction Co. to estimate costs, present the project to the Harrimans, and secure a construction contract. Baird had worked his way up from draftsman to chief engineer at the Phoenix Bridge Company, Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company, and the highly-regarded engineering firm Boller, Hodge & Baird.
Baird worked alongside the Bear Mountain Hudson River Bridge Company’s chief engineer, Wilson F. Smith, consulting engineer William H. Burr, and Major William A. Welch, general manager and chief landscape engineer of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission.
W. H. Burr was considered
Wilson Smith, a student of W. H. Burr, was a graduate of the Columbia University’s School of Mines. He had worked on numerous projects for the New York City & Hudson River Rail Company and the New York Rapid Transit Commission. He also supervised construction of the Kensico Dam and related structures.
William A. Welch was the general manager and chief landscape engineer of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission (PIPC). Responsible for unprecedented beautification and development at Bear Mountain and Harriman State Parks, Welch also designed the scenic Storm King Mountain Highway. He began the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, chaired the fledgling Appalachian Trail Conference, and was a founder and first president of the National Council of State Parks.
Howard H. McClintic began the McClintic-Marshall Construction
Frederick Tench was an early sponsor of the bridge plan and helped secure financing for the project. He and Edward F. Terry became close friends while building bridges for the Union Bridge Company and Union Pacific Railroad. Attracted to large projects in New York City, they formed the Terry & Tench Construction Company in 1895. Five years later, it was the most successful steel construction firm in the country.
The construction of cables for the Bear Mountain Bridge marked a turning point in the history of parallel wire cable fabrication. New theories, rigidly field-tested during construction, proved extremely successful and made it possible to develop cables of almost any diameter and number of wires.
Holton D. Robinson was an authority on bridge-cable construction and held many patents for cable improvements. He built the first huge cables that made long suspension bridges possible. At Bear Mountain Bridge, he perfected a wrapping for cable strands and machinery for binding the cables with wire, enabling the bridge to be constructed at unusual speed.
Washington A. Roebling, the 87-year-old president
Location. 41° 19.207′ N, 73° 59.282′ W. Marker is in Fort Montgomery, New York, in Orange County. Marker is on U.S. 202, on the left when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is on the west side of the Bear Mountain Bridge, on the north side of the street. Marker is in this post office area: Fort Montgomery NY 10922, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A Strategic Location (here, next to this marker); Bear Mountain Bridge (a few steps from this marker); Popolopen Creek Trail to Fort Montgomery Fort Clinton (about 300 feet away); Appalachian Trail (about 400 feet away); Fort Clinton’s Outer Redoubt (about 500 feet away); a different marker also named Appalachian Trail (about 500 feet away); The British Attempt to Divide the Colonies during the War of Independence (about 500 feet away).
More about this marker. Portraits of W.H. Burr, William A. Welch, Frederick Tench, Edward F. Terry, and Holton D. Robinson, and ads for McClintoc-Marshall Construction Company and John A. Roebling’s Sons Company appear on the marker. Also on the marker is a photograph of men constructing the Bear Mountain Bridge.
Categories. • Bridges & Viaducts •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on October 10, 2015, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 188 times since then and 15 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on October 10, 2015, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.