The Lift Bridge on Main Street in the Village of Fairport has allegedly appeared in Ripley's Believe It or Not because of its unusual construction. The bridge is an irregular decagon, a ten-sided structure, and crosses the canal at a 32-degree angle. No two angles in the bridge are the same, and no corners on the bridge are square. The bridge weighs 345.8 tons, and is lifted by a 40-horsepower electric motor. Clearance under the Fairport Lift Bridge is approximately 6 feet when lowered (this varies from one side to the other due to the slope of the bridge), with a lift of 10 feet 7 inches. At normal water levels, clearance when raised is 16.3 feet, with a minimum at high water of 15.7 feet.
Below are photographs of the construction of the Fairport Lift Bridge, historical photographs taken shortly after it was built, and some photographs of the Fairport Lift Bridge taken in 2003 and 2004.
The Fairport Lift Bridge was constructed in 1913-1914 of steel made by the Lackawanna Bridge Company of Buffalo, N.Y., with H.S. Kerbaugh Inc. of Philadelphia as contractor, and F.P. Williams of Rochester as Division Engineer. The total cost to the state was $75,000. The bridge was a replacement of the former 1888 Main Street Bridge, which needed to be removed when the Erie Canal was widened.
| "Construction of Main Street Bridge" -- Erecting steel, Main Street Lift Bridge, Fairport |
Left: looking south, March 24, 1914 ; Right: Looking west, March 24, 1914.
|"Gears on Main Street Bridge" -- Several men look at the gears at the south end of the Main Street Bridge, July 2, 1914.||Fairport's Main Street Bridge under construction ; north approach, Sept. 3, 1914|
| Fairport's Main Street Bridge, shown after its completion, November 4, 1914. |
Left: looking northeast ; Right: looking east from West Ave. -- the bridge control tower can be seen on the right side of the photograph.
|"Lackawanna Bridge Company - Buffalo, N.Y. - 1914" -- The plaque that was originally placed upon the Fairport Lift Bridge when the bridge was constructed. The plaque was removed during painting in the early 1970s. In 2009, the plaques were located again -- one was reinstalled on the northeast corner of the Fairport Lift Bridge (in the original location), and the one pictured above was given to the Perinton Historical Society. On the right is the reverse side of the plaque.|
|Barge Canal, Contract No. 63 [Fairport Lift Bridge] -- from Annual Report of the State Engineer and Surveyor of the State of New York for the fiscal year ended September 30, 1915 (Albany : J. B. Lyon Co, printers, 1916) -- left: facing p. 270; right: facing p. 272.|
| Right: Douglas Packing Co., and Main Street Bridge, Fairport, N.Y. (10229 -- no publisher information) -- Postcard ; approximately 1925 ; reprinted with permission from: Erie Canal, by Andrew Kitzmann and the Erie Canal Museum (Arcadia Publishing, 2009), p. 34. --
Note that on the right side of this picture, West Avenue intersects with Main Street at the bridge, so that the southwest part of the bridge is truncated. After urban renewal changed this area, West Avenue was cut off and the west side of the bridge was extended to match the east side.
|"Main St. Lift Bridge, Barge Canal, Fairport, N.Y." (10223 -- no publisher information) -- Postcard ; not postmarked ; 1920-1930?|
| The Fairport Lift Bridge from the northeast
(Bridge operator's tower to the left).
|The Fairport Lift Bridge from the southwest.|
|The west side, in the raised position, as seen from the canal.||The east side, in the raised position, as seen from the canal.|
| Fairport Lift Bridge from the southeast -
Normal automobile traffic position (down).
| Fairport Lift Bridge from the southeast -- |
Bridge raised to let a boat through.
|Fairport Lift Bridge from the northwest.||The east side pedestrian walkway.|
|The bridge from the south -- Going up.||The bridge from the south -- Fully raised .|
|The bridge from the north -- Raised position.|
|The bridge from the west -- Raised position.|
| Detail of the southeast corner, with
the bridge in the raised position.
| The bridge in the raised position -- from the underside|
Left: looking south ; Right: looking north.
Each end of the Fairport Lift Bridge has a stairway on the east side which allows pedestrians to cross the bridge when in the raised position. Originally, canal traffic was heavy, and road traffic was relatively light, so the bridge was left up and only lowered when road traffic required it. In time, automobile traffic increased and canal traffic decreased, so today the bridge is left down and raised when a boat requires it.
| Fairport Lift Bridge stairways |
Left: South stair, looking north (bridge down).
Right: North stair, looking southeast (bridge up).