Buffalo Along the Erie Canal

Aldrich Change Bridge

The Aldrich Change Bridge in Palmyra had caught the attention of Canal Society member Jay Harding in 1996 as it sat abandoned over Ganargua Creek. Being aware of the bridge’s precarious state of disrepair, he checked on it after a time of high water, only to find it off its foundation and washed into the creek. He began an odyssey to get it out of the creek and safely back onto secure footing.

Citizen volunteers salvaged the superstructure, dismantled it, and moved it to storage at the Macedon Town Highway Department's equipment yard pending its restoration and re-erection on the Palmyra-Macedon Towpath Trail, part of the planned New York State Heritage Trail system that follows the route of the New York State Barge Canal.

First erected in1858, the Aldrich Towing Path Change Bridge is the oldest iron bridge in New York State and one of only two bridges known to survive from the first enlargement of the Erie Canal. In addition to its importance as an artifact of one of the nation's earliest and most significant public works, it draws attention to one of the lesser known and largely overlooked designs of Squire Whipple, nineteenth-century America's foremost theoretician-practitioner of truss bridge design.

Made in Waterford, New York, it was one side of a two-span towpath change bridge at the Rochester Weighlock. In 1879, the bridge was no longer needed at this location and it was placed in storage. When the wooden change bridge just west of Palmyra collapsed, one span of Hutchinson's bridge was shortened and placed in service as Bridge No. 35. When the Barge Canal was constructed, it bypassed the downtown Palmyra section of the first enlargement so the bridge was no longer needed there. It was sold to a farmer in 1915 who put it across Ganargua Creek and used it as a farm bridge until about 1970, when it was abandoned. Twenty six years later, Jay encountered it in the creek and helped to salvage it, dismantle and store the bridge, and finally re-erect the structure in Palmyra’s Aqueduct Park in 2003 and 2004.