MASSENA — About 30 people were on hand Saturday morning when a historic marker was dedicated for a bridge that was designed and constructed by a Massena native more than a century ago.
Thanks to grant funding from the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, the Massena Center bridge now has a historic marker that reads:
One Lane Bridge
Massena Center Suspension
Bridge Constructed 1909-1910
By Holton Robinson, 1863-1945.
Prominent Bridge Designer
And Native Son
William G. Pomeroy Foundation 2018
Massena Town Councilman Samuel D. Carbone Jr. said the Massena Center Historical Society had approached Massena Town Historian MaryEllen Casselman about applying for the grant funding. He said the bridge is believed to be one of the smallest suspension bridges in the world.
“After approaching MaryEllen Casselman, our town historian, she stepped right up to prepare the grant for the Pomeroy Foundation. She was able to achieve the grant and order the historical marker,” he said. “Without Holt Robinson’s dedicated efforts and the Pomeroy Foundation’s supporting this historical marker, we wouldn’t be here to celebrate the history of our 110-year-old bridge. MaryEllen had previously researched the bridge and had great documentation on the bridge.”
Ogdensburg native Paula Miller, executive director of the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, a private grant-making foundation established in 2005, was on hand for Saturday’s ceremony.
“We have rigorous standards for our historic markers, and every piece of text on the marker has be proven through documentation. That’s not an easy task to find copies of original maps in 1909,” she said, thanking Ms. Casselman for her work on researching the bridge’s history.
The one-lane suspension bridge was designed and constructed by Mr. Robinson and built in 1909-10. Mr. Robinson and David Steinmen, who formed the engineering firm of Robinson and Steinmen, designed bridges such as the Deer Isle Bridge in Maine, the Hercilio Luz Bridge in Florianopolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil, and the Thousand Island Bridge System on the St. Lawrence River.
Mr. Robinson had returned to Massena Center in 1909 to design and construct the suspension cable bridge across the Grasse River at Massena Center. He acted as his own contractor and built the bridge for $39,000 over a 10-month period after the Massena Town Board refused to spend more than $40,000 and no contractor would bid for less than $60,000.
Now, 110 years later, the bridge, although closed to any traffic, still stands, and a historic marker installed by town of Massena employees recognizes its history. Ms. Casselman said that history serves as a context for current events “and helps us understand what to do in the future.”
Ms. Miller said that, to date, they have funded more than 500 historic markers in New York state. She said the Massena Center bridge represented the 561st marker that they had done in the state, and there was an opportunity for more markers, with the grant round for St. Lawrence County opening on Aug. 2.