Poughkeepsie JournalThursday, May 9, 1974
Long, Colorful History
By MIMI McANDREW
Journal Staff Writer
Poughkeepsie's railroad bridge has along and colorful history,
including a reported death-defying leap by dare devil Steve Brodie
Although the Brodie story has been subjected to some skepticism,
various reports indicate that Brodie, already famous for a successful
leap off the Brooklyn Bridge, did the same thing in Poughkeepsie.
The old Poughkeepsie, Daily Eagle, predecessor of the Journal,
reported in 1888 that Brodie leaped from the bridge, was rescued
by some friends in a rowboat, and taken to New York to recover.
The railroad bridge was the first bridge across the Hudson
below Albany and was one of the engineering wonders of the 19th
It was originally planned as a suspension bridge but was finished
as a cantilever structure.
It was called the "great hope" by its boosters in
the 19th Century but never lived up to its promise of bringing
Poughkeepsie's. population to the 50,000 mark.
The bridge was completed at the end of December 1888 and took
20 years to build.
The first charter for the bridge passed the State Legislature
in 1871, but was amended a year later to allow piers in the river.
The cornerstone was laid in 1873. Work by, the American Bridge
Co. began in 1876 and a year later the first caisson was launched.
Work began for a third time on the bridge in 1886. Work progressed
rapidly but in 1887 a great fight developed in the Legislature
for an extension of the charter.
The last pin, making the bridge complete from shore to shore,
was driven on Aug. 29, 1888. The first train crossed the bridge
the following month.
In 1912 when the railroad began using Sante Fe, a heavier engine,
the bridge was strengthened. The Penn Central received the bridge
as part of its merger when it was forced to acquire the New York,
New Haven and Hartford Railroad.
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