I received a message with a correction to an essay I wrote in “Don’t Throw This Away”. It’s an interesting message, so I thought I would share it:
I have just finished Don't Throw This Away, and as it happens, I am also reading David McCullough's The Great Bridge. I noted that in your essay "The Bridge Tour" you say John Roebling's Niagara Bridge was blown down. I don't think this is correct. Roebling's Niagara Bridge was put into service in 1855, served for 42years (with an interim reinforcement) and was decommissioned in 1897 due to it's inability to carry the increasingly heavy rail loads. There was another, earlier Niagara bridge, built in 1851 by Edward Serrell.
“It had been a very light suspension bridge and was badly shaken by a storm in 1855, after which, at Roebling's suggestion, it had been refitted with guy wires. But later when these wires were loosened by an ice jam, somebody neglected to tighten them. A spring storm tore the bridge floor to pieces and left the cables and suspenders dangling uselessly in mid-air. (pp. 71-72)”
If this is the bridge you are thinking of, I don't think it is accurate to call it Roebling's bridge.
Cordially, Jim Dubler, P.E.
Ft Collins, CO
Thanks to Mr. Dubler for the correction.
Here is a terrific website that discusses the history of the Niagara River Bridges.