Thursday, December 6, 2012

Florida Keys Bridge #12 Channel Two Historic Bridge MM73

Channel Two Historic Bridge MM73
December 6, 2012, Rob Hickman, Keith Nelson


Old Channel No. 2 Bridge

Overview: Open-spandrel arch bridge over Channel #2 on an old alignment of the Overseas Railroad/Highway (US 1); presently the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail
Location: Layton, Monroe County, Florida
Feature Carried: Old alignment of US 1, former Florida East Coast Railway
Feature Crossed: Channel No. 2
History: Built ca. 1908-12 for use by the Overseas Railroad, converted to highway use (US 1) in 1938, made obsolete by new bridge in 1981, converted into a pedestrian bridge in 2001
Type: Arch
Subtype: Concrete closed spandrel segmental arch
Recognition: Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on August 3, 1979
Length: Main: 35 ft, Total: 1760 ft
Builder or Contractor: William Krome, Joseph Meredith, Florida East Coast Railway; rebuilt by B. M. Duncan (Chief Engineer)
Status: Rehabilitated for pedestrian use, 2010
Notes: Henry Flager made his fortune by establishing the Standard Oil Company in 1870, though he is best known for developing Florida by building the Florida East Coast Railway. In the late 1800's, Key West was the largest city in Florida. Furthermore, it was the only city with a deep water port. In anticipation of the opening of the Panama Canal, Flagler decided to extend his railroad to Key West. Starting in 1905, the railroad and its miles and miles of bridges and fill sections was finally completed in 1912. Most bridges, such as this one, were closed spandrel concrete arch causeways. While the railroad initially led to boom years, the competition from newer Florida cities and ports such as Miami and Tampa as well as the loss of the cigar and sponging industries exacerbated the effects of the Great Depression in the 1930's. The railroad filed for bankruptcy in 1932. On Labor Day, 1935, "The Storm of the Century" as it was later known, struck the keys. The Category Five hurricane destroyed much of the railroad, washing out miles of fill sections. A rescue locomotive carrying hundreds of veterans working on building an auto route for the Overseas Road and Toll Bridge District (ORTB) through the keys was lost. In all, 428 people were killed. The bridges survived. The railroad could not afford to rebuild its line and went bankrupt. The Public Works Administration loaned the ORTB funding to build a highway through the keys, utilizing the railroad right-of-way and bridges. The concrete bridges, such as this one, were widened in by placing steel beams across the bridge and encasing them with concrete. The highway was opened for traffic in 1938, though modernized and dedicated in 1944. From 1972 to 1982, new bridges replaced all of the former railroad bridges. Many of the old bridges were converted to carry trails or serve as fishing piers. Sections of many were removed to allow boat passage. Some were demolished entirely.
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