Created By: Ithaca Heritage
Traverse Tompkins is an annual fundraiser supporting The History Center in Tompkins County. Run or ride across our community exploring history on the landscape. Learn more at thehistorycenter.net/traverse-tompkins
If “Ithaca is Gorges,” then one result is that Ithaca is also bridges. Tompkins County has an elaborate infrastructure of bridges built to cross our numerous creeks, streams, and steep-sided gorges to keep people and vehicles moving. Some of our early bridges no longer exist, like the romantic covered bridge at Halseyville. Built in 1833, it crossed Taughannock Creek on what is now Route 96 just southeast of Trumansburg and was replaced in 1928 with a simple concrete structure. It was one of three covered bridges that were originally built in Tompkins County, with the only remaining one now in Newfield.
Other historic bridges have been refurbished or rebuilt, such as the Thurston Avenue bridge connecting Cornell’s North Campus with Central Campus. Crossing Fall Creek near Triphammer Falls, the bridge was reconstructed in 2006-2007, with wider traffic lanes and sidewalks, as well as new bicycle lanes. The $10 million reconstruction project included the installation of 10 bronze interpretive panels along the rails of the bridge highlighting the history of the site with text and photographs. This is the third bridge crossing the creek at this point, the first having been built in 1897 by the Ithaca Street Railway Company, who ran a trolley system from downtown to Cornell. A second bridge was built in 1960.
This Traverse Tompkins Tour includes bridges of all kinds throughout the city of Ithaca and each of the county’s towns, including some for railroads, pedestrians, and cars. They are meant to be easily accessible by bike, on foot, and for a few, such as the Salmon Creek Train bridge and the Stewart Park pedestrian bridges, by kayak or canoe!
This tour was developed by staff of The History Center for the 2023 Traverse Tompkins Fundraiser.