Help Preserve the Landmark Shaw Bridge in Claverack NY
  • Petitioned Preserve New York, Grant Program

This petition was delivered to:

Preservation League of NYS & NYS Council on the Arts
Preserve New York, Grant Program

Help Preserve the Landmark Shaw Bridge in Claverack NY

    1. Ian Nitschke
    2. Petition by

      Ian Nitschke

      Claverack Historic Preservation Advisory Committee, NY

The 1870 Shaw Bridge is described in the National Register of Historic Places as "a structure of outstanding importance to the history of American engineering and transportation technology.” It is included in the Library of Congress Historic American Engineering Record; ranked by HistoricBridges.org as a bridge with one of the highest Historic Significance Ratings; recognized as an important American bridge in BridgeHunter.com; and identified as an international engineering landmark by Structurae! The bridge employs the basic design of 1830 Union College graduate, Squire Whipple who has been called the "Father of Iron Bridges" by Dr. Francis. E. Griggs, Jr., Distinguished Member of American Society of Civil Engineers (Dist.M.ASCE). The Shaw Bridge is the only extant double-span Whipple bowstring truss bridge in the U.S. and is in its original location along the historic New York to Albany Post Road.

For the first 125 years after construction, the Shaw Bridge provided vital service and was well maintained but for the last 15 years it has been closed to all traffic, including pedestrian traffic, with no maintenance (until vegetation was recently removed) resulting in rapid deterioration of the wooden bridge deck and rusting of iron components. Without maintenance the bridge will deteriorate beyond restoration and become a dangerous eyesore.

The modest requested funds ($10,000) would be used to pay consultants to produce a Historic Structure Report, which would describe the current condition of the bridge and recommend cost effective ways to stabilize, rehabilitate, and restore the bridge for pedestrian use. Included in the report would be recommendations for the restoration of the stone abutments and stone pier, cleaning, repairing, and painting all the original iron members that are in good condition, removal, repair and/or replacement of deteriorated iron members, removal and replacement of the wooden deck, and restoration of historic pedestrian railings. The consultant would identify, as much as possible, opportunities to farm out tasks and materials (including masonry work and wooden deck materials) to local businesses that may be willing to provide services and materials at low or no cost. As they became available, sections of the Historic Structures Report would be used to inform interested parties for fundraising purposes, to inform those who may be willing to provide in-kind services and materials, and for the Town of Claverack to apply for a Transportation Enhancement Grant from the Federal Highway Administration (or a similar grant) to cover the costs for the bridge restoration. The Historic Structure Report would also be used to focus on urgent maintenance work that can be done by the town, county, and in-kind services and material before the onset of winter 2012-2013.

The Shaw Bridge restoration project is an important building block in Claverack's historic preservation efforts, and currently its most visible. Success in preserving this important historic bridge and making it accessible to residents on a daily basis will energize the community and help define a broader historic preservation vision to preserve Claverack's unique history and make it come alive. Many worthy but difficult preservation projects are waiting in the wings for the success of this project, including the restoration of the Van Hoesen House, the Mellenville Railroad Station, updating the list of approximately 200 Town of Claverack historic homes, an inventory of historic homes in the Village of Philmont, and continuing to place outstanding individual historic properties on the National Register of Historic Places.

Recent signatures

    News

    1. Great News: Official Announcement from the Preservation League of NYS

      Ian Nitschke
      Petition Organizer

      MEDIA ADVISORY / PHOTO OPPORTUNITY
      WHEN: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 11:30 a.m.
      WHERE: Shaw Bridge, Van Wyck Lane and Shaw Bridge Road, Claverack (in case of inclement weather, the announcement will be made at the A. B. Shaw Firehouse on Route 23)
      WHO: Erin Tobin, Regional Director, Technical and Grant Programs, Eastern NY Preservation League of New York State
      Hon. Robin Andrews, Supervisor, Town of Claverack
      WHAT: The Preservation League will present a grant of $8,400 to support the cost of a Historic Structure Report for the Shaw Bridge. The Shaw Bridge, built in 1870, is a double-span bowstring Whipple patent bridge, the only known example of its type in New York and perhaps the United States. The 1980 National Register nomination calls the bridge “among the best preserved extant Whipple patent bridge” and notes, “Remaining ... on its original site, the Claverack bridge is the only double-span example of the Whipple patent bowstring bridge known to exist in the nation."

    2. Important Announcement: 3:00 PM Sunday Sept 30

      Ian Nitschke
      Petition Organizer

      Meet the Experts and Learn about Restoring Claverack’s Famous Shaw Bridge

      The Claverack Historic Preservation Committee will sponsor a discussion of the Shaw Bridge by Dr. Francis Griggs, Jr., historic bridge expert, and John Testa, retired civil engineer. It is proposed that the neglected Shaw Bridge, closed to all traffic since 1995, will be restored as a pedestrian bridge, to honor Squire Whipple, the father of American iron bridges, who provided the ingenious design for this bridge in 1841. Once it is carefully restored, the Shaw Bridge may be eligible to be listed as a world heritage bridge (on a par with the Brooklyn Bridge and the Poughkeepsie Walkway)!

      All are welcome at the A.B. Shaw Firehouse, 67 State Route 23, Claverack, 12513, on Sunday September 30, 2012; 3:00 PM. We will be making an important announcement at this event. Light refreshments will be served. For more information contact Ian Nitschke 518-851-7936.

    3. Thanks to all who signed the petition.

      Ian Nitschke
      Petition Organizer

      On Monday May 7, 2012, the Town of Claverack submitted an Application to the Preserve New York Grant Program, for funds to produce a Historic Structures Report for the elegant and historic Shaw Bridge. The Application included this Petition with 551 signatures, 347 from the website, and 204 collected by hand. You can still read comments (click on About this Petition, scroll down) from as far away as Australia, Rob Mackenzie, Tweed Heads, NSW: "As a retired civil engineer I can appreciate the need to retain & restore old bridge structures -- in the case of the Shaw Bridge, it appears unique, & unquestionably should be maintained.

    4. The Register-Star newspaper has a front-page article on the Shaw Bridge!

      Ian Nitschke
      Petition Organizer

      The Shaw Bridge redemption. Town moves to preserve historic span, believed to be the only one of its kind in the country
      By Nathan Mayberg, Hudson-Catskill Newspapers, Published: April 19, 2012.
      CLAVERACK -- With its distinct iron arches and its crumbling wooden deck, the Shaw Bridge over Claverack Creek is instantly striking for its design, obvious aging and location in the middle of a scenic site. The town of Claverack has submitted a grant application to the state Historic Preservation Fund in an effort to move forward in preserving the historic 1870 bridge on Van Wyck Lane over Claverack Creek.

    5. Reached 250 signatures
    6. Over 200 people have signed the petition to preserve the Shaw Bridge

      Ian Nitschke
      Petition Organizer

      Bridge expert Richard Ehrenberg, from Marlboro NY comments: “As the only known Whipple twin-span bowstring in the world, it would be a shame -- no, CRIME, really -- to NOT properly restore this bridge. It is a living piece of history, from a time when America's technical, engineering, and manufacturing prowess were just starting to bloom -- and Squire Whipple was at the forefront.” Other comments were written by Donna Jordan, Scott Stackpole, Laurel Durst, B. Docktor, Nicon Zasorin, Jeane LaPorta, Monte Jennings Sr., Peter Donahoe, and Debbie Collett. An interesting name on the petition is Blaine Whipple from Portland OR, a distant relative of Squire Whipple, who has written a short biography of Squire Whipple on the Whipple Website and is the author of the four-volume book, "15 Generations of Whipples," a history of descendants of Matthew Whipple Jr. Besides Squire Whipple, Matthew's descendants include 1934 Nobel Prize winner George Hoyt Whipple and President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

    7. Over 150 people have signed the petition to preserve the Shaw Bridge

      Ian Nitschke
      Petition Organizer

      Those who have also provided comments include: bridge neighbors Martin Davidson, Charles Schram, John and Maryanne Lee; Our Town publisher Enid Futterman; Philmont Beautification leader Sally Baker; Cyndy Hall; Peggy Lampman; James Strickler; Joanne Vilaghy; Joan Caputo; Josephine Konow; Karl Sanzenbacher from Baltimore MD; Wikipedia publisher Dan Case from Walden NY; and Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber from HistoricBridges.org in Michigan, a nationally known historic bridges website that provides a link to this petition and "strongly supports the preservation and in-kind restoration of this nationally significant historic bridge."

    8. Reached 100 signatures

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • Jayda Ara WOBURN, MA
      • 10 months ago

      Preserve historic landmarks/bridges

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Leonid (Len) Stotzky FITCHBURG, MA
      • almost 2 years ago

      I grew up next to the bridge. -Crossed it every day in the 60s & 70s. -Remember when the guard rails were installed in early 60s (a welcome feature when cars and pedestrians were crossing on that narrow deck at same time). Memories, as kids, climbing on the bridge's stone supports; a display of one's courage was to climb the top spans from one side to other (amazing that our parents never caught us/thank god no one ever fell !). There's a survey marker on the center support/east side) visible from the bridge deck.Can't forget helping with historic house tours (as a Yorker) at the Schram's home on the other side of bridge. Too many stories to ramble about here. Always surprised to see postcards of Shaw bridge c.1900, being sold online. Guess that even back then, it was photo worthy. Don't let this be lost, when it can still be saved.

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    • John Sherman BARNEVELD, NY
      • almost 2 years ago

      The engineering design of this early bridge is notable

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    • D L OTTAWA, IL
      • almost 2 years ago

      All historic buildings should be preserved and restored to their original state for future generations to enjoy.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Peter Reiss HUDSON, NY
      • over 2 years ago

      I believe that the bridge has historical value and I would see it as a really notable part of a route on which to walk -- for both immediate area residents and tose of us who live a little further out...

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