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Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2017:10:09 22:16:19

The removal of the Coxton Railroad Bridge that spans the Susquehanna River between Exeter and Duryea Borough has begun. Advanced Demolition and Blasting, Saxonburg, PA, contractor for the $796,600.00 project,l removed the first span of the bridge on the Exeter side of the river. The bridge consists of a total of six truss spans. cv11coxtonbridgep7 Warren Ruda / The Citizens' Voice

Demolition crews did something floods and lightning could not do — they brought down the entire Coxton Railroad Bridge.

The first Coxton Bridge over the Susquehanna River linking Coxton Yards and Exeter Twp. was built in 1882. The superstructure was iron. It cost $60,000. It was designed to bear the weight of 62-ton locomotives, which the Lehigh Valley Railroad ran then.

In 1903, the the railroad built a pedestrian boardwalk so workers who lived on the West Side and had been walking to work on the ties, could walk across safely.

In 1887, the old the bridge survived an ice flood. Ice rose to 6 inches of the deck.

As bigger locomotives were built by 1926, the bridge was obsolete and a new steel bridge designed to handle 161-ton locomotives was built to replace the old bridge.

The American Bridge Company of New York City was awarded the contract for $300,000 — the equivalent of more than $4 million 2017 dollars.

Construction began in March 1926 and was expected to take seven months, with Sept. 9 as a target date for completion. Traffic was detoured by way of Port Bowkley on the Bowman’s Creek Division during construction.

American Bridge left the old bridge in place and built the new bridge around it, wider and higher. They demolished the old bridge when the new one was complete.

In August, the workers were on schedule to complete the bridge, but on Aug. 14, lightening stuck the bridge, knocking down the fourth span of six, which in turn knocked the old span down and both fell into a tangled mess in the river.

The strike set the opening of the bridge back to October.

In 1910, a raft carrying lumber from Meshoppen hit a pier and broke in half. Hundreds of citizens watched a dramatic rescue as the raft’s two pilots were rescued by a rowboat.

In 1940, eight Pittston boys caused a traffic jam on Rt. 92 as motorists stopped to watch them diving from the bridge into the river from 60 feet. The cops arrived and the boys told them they were “practicing to be parachute jumpers,” according to the Pittston Gazette.

Demolition of the bridge began earlier this month.

Information was found in the digital archives of the Pittston Gazette.

jsmiles@pittstonprogress.com