The bridge at Eagle Harbor has long provided canal crossing

Posted 8 September 2021 at 5:29 pm

This 1909 postcard photo taken by W.C. Eaton of Jeddo, shows Main Street, Eagle Harbor, looking north.

By Catherine Cooper, Orleans County Historian

“Illuminating Orleans” – Vol. 1, No. 21

EAGLE HARBOR – The hamlet of Eagle Harbor has seen more traffic of late as many avail of its convenient bridge because the Knowlesville bridge on Route 31 is still “Closed” or “Out.”

Named for the eagle’s nest found in a tree there by Canal surveyors in 1815, Eagle Harbor’s growth was due to Canal trade.

In 1894, it boasted a hotel, livery, wagon shop, meat market, grist mill, school, three general stores, two churches, and two blacksmiths. The following photographs from the History Dept. provide interesting visual images of Eagle Harbor’s history.

The old steel arch bridge is visible in this bustling scene.

This 1911 postcard photo also taken by W.C. Eaton, of Jeddo, shows the early stages of the bridge reconstruction project which was necessitated by the widening of the Erie Canal.

This massive reconstruction project was thoroughly documented by the New York State Barge Canal (Western Division). This photograph is labeled “South Wall of Trough, Eagle Harbor, Looking East, 4/12/12”

“Eagle Harbor Waste Weir, Looking S.E., 4/10/1912”

A temporary wooden bridge over the Canal at Eagle Harbor, 1912.

The construction of the Erie Canal presented several engineering challenges and lead to the development of several new types of bridge design. The vertical lift bridge at Eagle Harbor is one of the longer spans of this bridge type. It is one of seven lift bridges in Orleans County.

According to “This bridge features end posts which extend above the top chord, with a tastefully designed curved plate providing a visual and structural transition from the top chord to the top of the end post…..this bridge stands on its own as a beautiful eye-catching landmark for the area.”