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Tunkhannock Viaduct, Nicholson Bridge, Wyoming County, Nicholson, PA

In a small town north of Scranton is one of the most incredible rail bridges ever construction. It was considered the 9th Wonder of the World upon completion 101 years ago, and still stakes a convincing claim to that today. The Nicholson Bridge, also known as the Tunkhannock Viaduct measures in at 2375 feet long, and 240 feet tall from the bottom of the creek, with an effective height of 300 feet when you measure the structure to bedrock. It was created as part of the Nicholson Cutoff, an engineering solution to the brutally rugged landscape in this region of Northeastern PA. As the anthracite coal industry, once the energy backbone of this nation, ramped up, the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad needed a rail line that could quickly and safely carry this product to market in New York City, and other major industrial centers. Their previous line was not fast enough in bringing this product to market, in addition to carrying passengers more efficiently. The Nicholson Cutoff was a much straighter and shorter route, removing curves that the trains had to switch engines and slow down to a crawl in order to safely traverse the rails. The line removed the bulk of the huge curves of the previous alignment, in the journey between Scranton, PA and Binghamton, New York. An hour of freight time was cut, in addition to cutting 21 minutes from passenger trips. As they say, time is money, and in the midst of a coal boom and a highly competitive rail market, the Lackawanna Railroad utilized implementing one of the most ambitious engineering projects that the world has ever seen. The Nicholson Viaduct is the centerpiece of this ambitious project and 101 years later, it is still thought to be the largest reinforced concrete structure in the world. This construction was not without sacrifice though, for at least four, and with some estimates into the double digits of workers that died on the job due to falls or in getting hurt by unexploded dynamite. 

You can see the bridge for what seems like miles upon approach. My jaw dropped when I saw the magnitude of this bridge. The drive to get to the bridge is spectacular in itself, and it also demonstrates why such a huge undertaking needed to be made to straighten the rail route. It makes for a thrilling drive, but it would certainly be a huge logistical challenge to move goods in and out of the area with any sort of efficiency.

Great views of the bridge can be seen from all angles, but especially from the overlook on Route 11. This is easy to find, for it is well marked and a distinct pull off with a parking lot. 

The Lackawanna Railroad plastered their name on the arches of the bridge, a pretty neat detail.
Teddy Roosevelt, Thomas Edison, and Henry Ford all went out of their way to see this wonder. You should as well! It is jaw dropping to say the least. The Kingsley Bridge and Starucca Viaduct within this region in nearby Susquehanna County are also a must see for those who love to see spectacular old bridges.

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