Historic roadside marker to be dedicated in Massena on July 6
Thursday, June 27, 2019 - 5:27 pm

MASSENA -- The dedication of a historic roadside marker at Massena Center will take place Saturday, July 6 at 10 a.m. at 600 Route 42 at the entrance to the old Center Bridge.

The one lane suspension bridge was built 1909-1910 by Holton Robinson a local resident and the world’s most recognized and accomplished engineer in suspension bridge cable design and construction.

Holton was the grandson of Daniel Robinson one of the first settlers at Massena Point in 1804 and for whom Robinson’s Bay was named.

Born in Massena Feb. 7, 1863, he grew up playing along the banks of the river and attended Massena Center School before graduating from St. Lawrence University in 1886. He then went to work for the bridge designing firm Buck and McNulty, famous for the Brooklyn and Niagara suspension bridges.

After becoming an engineer by studying at night, in 1899 he was put in charge of building the Williamsburg bridge in NYC and later in charge of the design and construction of the Manhattan bridge. He came back to his home town in 1909 to design the Center bridge.

The Massena Town Board refused to spend more than $40,000 on the bridge that he had designed and no contractor would bid for less than $60,000. Mr. Robinson proceeded to act as his own contractor and built the bridge for $39,000 over a period of 10 months.

It was a one-lane suspension bridge with its planked, later macadamized, roadbed 12’ in diameter and a 400’ main span with 100’ side spans. From with side of the Grasse River two major cables swept up and over two 60’ towers and then down across the channel. From “saddles” or steel nodules, single smaller cables hung down to carry the whole structures of the bridge, the girders and trusses carrying the roadway.

For many years the bridge served the community well with its single lane and it was not uncommon to see individuals walking across the bridge to go to the drive-in theater on the other side. It closed in the mid-1960s, but remains at a distance, a beautiful landmark spanning the Grasse River.

Holton Robinson designed other bridges, including the Thousand Island Bridge and worked on many others in the U.S., and every continent except Africa until his death May 7, 1945.

This historic roadside marker was obtained from a grant applied for by the Massena Town Historian and received from the William G. Pomeroy Foundation®, a private, grant-making foundation established in 2005.

One of the Pomeroy Foundation’s main initiatives is to help people celebrate their community’s history through historic signage. Since 2006, the Foundation has grown to offer six different historic signage programs with more than 825 signage grants awarded in New York State and beyond, all the way to Alaska.

For more information or to apply for a marker or plaque, visit: www.wgpfoundation.org.