A few days before July 24th, 2008 I had been trying to capture the “best view” of the old Foxburg Bridge that my modest Minolta Dimage Z1 would afford. Then I noticed this little flower planted among the bushes on the edge of the river. After assuming some awkward positions in an attempt to include the little flower within composure, I managed to take several shots from the perspective of someone who must have witnessed the Foxburg Bridge throughout the season leading to it’s end.
A year ago today, a very special event was about to take place. Everyone was looking forward to it – some were very unhappy about it, a few were relieved and the rest I’d say, pretty neutral. We all knew it had to happen…and finally after putting in over a year of planning and construction, they imploded the historic Foxburg Bridge into the Allegheny. A legacy was blown up within moments!
There were lots of rumors surrounding the then Foxburg Bridge. I heard, “They are going to keep it and put little shops on it” and “They’ll just leave it there. After all it’s a piece of history”. Despite all hopes and anticipations, the authorities appeared to be fairly clear about what needed to be done. Someone said the old bridge could have collapsed anytime in future without warning and was simply a hazard given that it would not have been maintained. This would have rung the bells to anyone who used the old bridge or the Allegheny for work or leisure. So, inspite of all the controversy, finally the big day arrived and the town took a moment to pause, reflect and await the judgement.
Foxburg had been busy earlier in the season with not only visitors but also the crew responsible for constructing the new bridge. There were construction signs everywhere warning users of the bridge to expect delays and intervention by construction machinery. But that day there were more – the Discovery channel decided to capture the moment with their own sophisticated gear, there were emergency services sprawled all over as close to the bridge as possible, ready to intervene “just in case”, then there was the audience – both locals and visitors. Earlier, the town folks were asked to evacuate the town for safety reasons – although the authorities were confident that the implosion would go smoothly without damage to any structure or life, they wanted an extra layer of protection. A policeman patrolled the town and verified that the houses were actually vacated before the scheduled time for implosion. This, of course, gave the town-folk an opportunity to step out and witness the “big event” in its entirety.
Some people flocked to the bike trail and climbed down to the river-bank to secure a nice view. Others boated over on the Allegheny to peek at the scene from atop the river. There was an excitement about in the air – the kind you don’t experience in mundane life. Everyone was awaiting the spectacle and yet most of us wished it would never happen. All of us were deliberately quiet as if sitting in an opera or a movie theater. The last siren blew from the Foxburg Fire Hall to mark the beginning of the implosion. Soon, as we waited patiently with our hearts pounding, a spark was seen starting at the far right of the bridge travelling swiftly to the left followed by the blasting sound that had found its way through our earplugs. A series of clapping and cheering followed from the audience – pleased or upset, the people seemed to have come to terms with the reality of the moment.
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For those interested, the bridge identification plate and foundation stones of the old Foxburg Bridge can be found at Foxburg Free Library on Main Street in Foxburg.
Soon after the implosion, the old Foxburg Bridge, a piece of history as it was, made its way to the HistoricBridges.org website. A stream of amateur videos appeared on YouTube.com capturing the demolition scene. Please see one of my favorite videos below.