r_i_straw

SP Swing Bridge

Kemah/Seabrook, Texas, early 1970s. Clear Lake in background. Taken from old Highway 146 lift bridge. Extra high tide that day. Google Earth coordinates for where the bridge was. 29.549500,-95.023800

SP Swing Bridge
r_i_straw, Feb 6, 2007
    • BoxcabE50
      As the caption is written, sounds like this bridge is now gone?

      Boxcab E50
    • r_i_straw
      That rail line was pretty much abandoned by the SP in the early 1990's. UP finished it off after the merger by ripping up all the rails.
    • BoxcabE50
      Why was the tide so high that day? Storm surge?

      Boxcab E50
    • r_i_straw
      I am not really sure. I don't even recall taking the photo but do know it was before hurricane season in early 1972. Sometimes in Spring, a very brisk south wind pushes water from the Gulf of Mexico up through the Bolivar Roads and raises the mean sea level in Galveston Bay by a couple of feet.
    • BoxcabE50
      What powered the swing mechanism? Electric motor? If so, how did they keep it dry? Must have been in the operators shack?

      Boxcab E50
    • r_i_straw
      Yes it was an electric motor. The bridge was staffed 24/7. I once watched it close expecting a train. However it was only an operator shift change and the new guy walked out to the shack and the old guy walked back. The bridge then opened.
    • BoxcabE50
      I wonder if the rules required this bridge to remain open for water traffic? If there was much shipping, am thinking the answer would be yes.

      I got to spend some time on a swing bridge once. It was a place where there was very little river traffic. Seems like it was usually kept in the closed position. Interesting! We walked out to visit. He swang it open for us. It had a chipped gear tooth or something. Banged and thumped it's way open. We visited. He shut it for a train. Which I snapped a picture of it passing me at the operators shack. After we left, he opened the bridge again. So nobody could bother him for a while. I think he planned on eating lunch...

      Boxcab E50
    • r_i_straw
      This bridge remained open unless there was a train or operator change. When a train came, a horn sounded and it closed. If you were in a boat you just had to stop and wait. My dad kept a large sail boat in a marina on Clear Lake. The mast could not fit under the Highway 146 lift bridge so we would sound a horn and gates would go down stopping traffic so the bridge would raise. One time we were coming in the channel, had the highway bridge open, got under but then had to wait for a train. The lift bridge came down. Lucky we were not under sail and were using the diesel auxiliary motor in the boat because we had to putter around in the channel between the two bridges until the train was clear and the swing bridge opened. The highway 146 lift bridge has since been replaced by a much higher fixed bridge.
    • BoxcabE50
      I remember being in a boat, which was tied up right underneath the Great Northern RY's Ballard (Seattle) drawbridge. When they had to open it for a ship. That was a very strange feeling, as it clanked and creaked right above our heads. I wanted to move a few feet. But there was no place to go.

      Boxcab E50
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  • Album:
    Historic Prototype Photos
    Uploaded By:
    r_i_straw
    Date:
    Feb 6, 2007
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    Comment Count:
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