The Montgomery County Council posted a neat photo to Twitter which shows the construction going on in downtown Bethesda. Of interest is the lower half of the image which shows the old Georgetown Branch right of way. On the right is the Air Rights building, which straddles the tracks. Next to it is Wisconsin Ave, where you can see the bridge crossing the tracks. (it is the concrete section.) The cribbing you see is approximately where the right of way exited the Wisconsin Ave underpass and continued on to the South. The line curved down toward the bottom of the photo. Just above the right of way you can see where old sidings branched off from the main track near where the concrete parking lot is. Pretty spiffy!
I’ve been working on putting together scale drawings of the Rock Creek trestle on the Georgetown Branch for several months now in my free time. I’m getting very close to have a final working set of plans that I can use to build my HO scale model of the bridge and wanted to share a quick screen shot to see what it looks like.
This is very much a work in progress and the drawing reflects that. There have been many challenges with this project. Some of the big ones include the lack of images of the trestle from the time frame that I model; 1945-55. Another includes the various versions this trestle had throughout its life. It was originally built in the late 18th century, rebuilt some time in the 1920s, and again at some point in the 1950s. In the 60s it burned, in the 70s half of it collapsed. It was rebuilt, burned again in the 1980s rebuilt in the 2000s, reopened for pedestrians and finally in 2019 it was demolished. I took as many photos of it as I could (found in the Gallery on the main site) but due to the many modern additions, it’s nearly impossible to determine what was original and what was new.
I am doing my best. There is a lot of staring at photos for a very long time, trying to determine where bracing was placed, what height it was located at and what angle is correct. I’ve got about 3 photos that date back to the 40s and 50s. None are particularly good. I have a rough plan of the structure made by the B&O but it is missing many, many measurements. It’s a good starting place, and will give me a “good enough” on many measurements, but I wish I had taken more when the structure was still open to pedestrian traffic. Oh well. More to come, soon.
I was down at the Scout Shop in Bethesda getting couple last-minute items with my Son for his trip to camp tomorrow when I figured I would drop by the Junction and see the carnage. Wow. I was heartbroken to see it in person. The beheaded bridge piers and demolished abutment made for a grim sight. The Talbot Ave bridge stood sentinel for over 100 years and had become a cultural and social icon to locals. It was really tough to see the altered landscape. All around us it’s happening. I noticed as I drove through historic Kensington that the industrial area near the station is being gutted and cleared out, no doubt for some new shitty condo or office complex. It’s sad to see it all go, but that’s MoCo for you. Visit it all while you can, for tomorrow it may not be there.
Here is a link to my photos from the trip today.
Edit – I’ve updated with additional videos. I will continue to do so as I find more.
Some of the above videos are from the Farewell Talbot Avenue Bridge YouTube channel. There are many more available there! Enjoy.
Good friend Greg C. stopped by the Talbot Ave site yesterday to see what was going on. Well, the bridge was being hooked up to the crane for removal and wow, the site looks different. It’s a bit heart wrenching to see this landmark being removed, but nice to know it’s not being sliced up and destroyed altogether. Unfortunately the actual removal was not captured (it likely happened later in the day) but this will give you a very good idea of what the scene looked like.
You can view the photos here in my Gallery.
I expect there will be more of these, but in the interest of keeping everyone informed, Greg forwarded an email this morning with updates on the status of the historic Bridge:
Sent: Wednesday, June 5, 2019 1:12 AM
Subject: Talbot Avenue Bridge demolition begins
Today, a little after 7am, Talbot Avenue Bridge closed. By midday clamps had been attached to the girders and steel extensions, in preparation for later removal by crane. By the end of the day, the wood edging along either side of the Bridge had begun to be removed.
If you would like to view the demolition process, best viewing is on the 4th Avenue side of the Bridge (North Woodside).
The removal of the girders could happen soon, i.e within the next week and as soon as the end of this week. Purple Line continues, however, to wait for flaggers from CSX, without which this aspect of the demolition cannot proceed.
This video of a folk song being performed at a recent celebration of the Talbot Ave bridge (slated for demolition tomorrow) has a neat shot of a CSX loco sitting on the Georgetown Branch lead, which I would wager is a rare sight.
UPDATE 2: FYI, according to Purple Line Transit Constructors, the Talbot Avenue Bridge will close this coming Tuesday (June 4).
A Candlelight Vigil will be held on the Bridge the evening before (Monday, June 3).
UPDATE: This has been postponed until further notice, due to a delay in the demolition schedule.
Demolition is slated to begin this Friday, May 17, 2019. There is a candle light vigil planned for tomorrow night. Here are the details:
From: Talbot Avenue Bridge <email@example.com>
As many of you know, the Bridge will close for demolition this Friday, May 17 at 7am. The evening before neighbors and friends of the Bridge are invited to an informal gathering on the Bridge to mark this transition. As the sun sets and the candle lights brighten enjoy a final moment in this historic space with other members of our community.
What: Talbot Avenue Bridge Candlelight VigilWhen: Thursday, May 16
7:30-8:00 pm – Gathering time, informal meet & greet, group photos
8:00-8:30 pm – Sharing of reflections and stories related to the Bridge
Bring: Lantern (optional)
Note: It has not yet been confirmed when the Bridge’s demolition will begin, but supposedly community members will be informed in advance. A lot of the demolition is likely to take place late at night, when MARC trains are not running. A large crane will be brought in to hoist the girders which weigh 11,000 lbs each. Interesting factoid: The girders were fabricated from an overturned recycled B&O railroad train turntable.
Looks like we have a date for the demolition of the historic Talbot Avenue bridge. If you would like to experience this historic structure, time is of the essence. It will survive for only a few more weeks. Thankfully the main beams of the bridge (perhaps the only part of it original to the 1918 structure) are slated to be preserved and placed along the Capital Crescent Trail.