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Have you ever… seen an ice jam?

by Kim Robinson

As I watch these beautiful snowflakes falling, I harken back to that magical winter of yore… 2014, and ask: Have you ever seen an ice jam? 

Now, many of you may recall that winter; we had a storm in February that gave us 14” of snow; I can’t remember if that was on top of previous snow (I think it was) – but more importantly, the news reported that the Delaware River not only had an ice issue, but an ice jam at the Calhoun Street Bridge. 

Now, this, I had to see. Not sure of what the roads would be like, or where I might be able to park near the bridge, I left my car on the “the island”, and walked to Trenton, along the river, which turned out to be a good idea, as they had closed Rt. 29 due to potential flooding.

The Delaware River covered in snow and ice, by Kim Robinson.

Now, we all know the bridge connecting Trenton to Morrisville as the “Calhoun Street Bridge”, but the first span at the site was actually a privately owned bridge called the “City Bridge”, which was a wooden structure that opened to traffic in 1861.  Interestingly, the piers that supported that first wooden bridge now support the iron truss bridge we have now. And fun fact –  According to the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission website, of the 20 bridges in the DRJTBC system, the Calhoun Street Toll-Supported Bridge is the only one made of wrought iron.  A Phoenix Pratt truss bridge, with a length of 1,274 feet, it also holds the distinction as the Commission’s longest through-truss bridge and the Commission’s only seven-span truss bridge. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as well as the corresponding state lists for New Jersey and Pennsylvania.1

But back to my story.  Well, I made it onto the bridge, and the ice jam was just as incredible as it had looked on the news.

After walking back up the river to my car, I guess I got a second wind. I moved my car up to Titusville, and took some pictures of the river on the Jersey side, and then walked across the Washington Crossing Bridge to take some pictures from that viewpoint. 

It was there that I fell in a hole that had been covered with snow, and yes, it did take me 20 minutes to get out of it (it’s hard to climb while holding a camera in the air!), but I brushed myself off, drove myself home and sat by the fire, and all was right with the world. And I had seen an ice jam. So get outside, enjoy the Winter, and go on an adventure.  There’s really a very, very small chance that you will fall in a hole.

1 https://www.drjtbc.org/bridges/calhoun-street/#:~:text=The%20first%20span%20at%20the,support%20the%20current%20iron%20bridge.

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