5 quick facts about the wide Susquehanna River’s long Veterans Memorial Bridge

Artist Suzanne Satterfield drew Veterans Memorial Bridge’s when it opened in 1930. Notice the toll booth, center. Toll were removed in World War II and have never been reimposed. Its predecessor, a combo railroad/automobile/pedestrian bridge was torn down for scrap in the 1960s. Also of interest: A rehabbed, lit up Columbia-Wrightsville bridge: ‘It’ll really be a dramatic view’.

 

It took a closing of the forgotten Veterans Memorial Bridge connecting Wrightsville and Columbia before it was remembered.

Since its northern sister, the Wright’s Ferry Bridge, went up in 1970, Veterans bridge has been used by mostly local traffic.

But a truck crash in Wrightsville closed the bridge for six hours, and motorist had to find another way across the wide Susquehanna.

So with the bridge in the news, we’ll put up 5 quick facts about this quiet giant:


1. Veterans Memorial Bridge was constructed at the beginning the the Great Depression, opening in 1930. Its function was to carry the busy Lincoln Highway across the river. Previously, its narrower, older sister had to alternate between train and vehicle traffic, frustating folks.

2. People refer to it variously as Veterans Memorial Bridge, Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge or the Route 462 Bridge.

3. Veterans Memorial Bridge was the 5th of 6 bridges to span the river. Its four predecessors fell victim to high waters, fire (intentionally set to keep the invading Confederates from crossing in 1863), a cyclone, and to the demolition team seeking its metal for scrap. The 6th bridge, the Wright’s Ferry Bridge, of course stands today.

4. This from Rivertownes PA USA’s Claire Storm: “The mile-long $2.5 million bridge, is believed to be the longest multiple-arched, concrete bridge in the world. It is the only bridge between Harrisburg and Maryland with a pedestrian sidewalk and is listed on the National Register.” (Read more about the bridge’s vital statistics.)

5. Its original toll boths and light fixtures were removed in the 1970s, but an ongoing modernization project promises to replace the fixtures and more. This from Claire Storm: “New lanterns, similar to the originals, will be constructed of cast iron from a foundry in Pennsylvania. The two columns that once stood at the entrances of the bridge will be returned to their original appearance with two hanging fixtures. The new lamps will not only restore the historic integrity of the span but, with new technology, will be more economical to operate and also more reliable, thus making travel safer for both vehicles and pedestrians.”


The original fixtures hold lights on the Veterans Memorial Bridge in this undated photograph. Replica fixtures are part of a planned rehabilitation project. Also of interest: Veterans Memorial Bridge celebrates quiet birthday.

Plus 1: Don’t go looking for a bootprint in one of Veteran Memorial Bridge’s supports. (It’s an urban legend.)
Also of interest:
Read more about the bridge at: Local historical preservation societies share glimpses of the past. These photographs appeared with that story.

About Jim McClure

Editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, ydr.com and its many digital products. East Region Editor, Digital First Media. Journalism/history blogger: yorktownsquare.com. Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.
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