March 18th, 2015

It took seventeen years of battling through Pennsylvania’s court system and the state legislature, but on July 12, 1927, work began on a bridge across the Susquehanna River from Watsontown to White Deer.

In 1909 William C. Brimmer (1862-1944) was elected chief burgess of Watsontown for the purpose of promoting a bridge project.  He formed a committee which immediately set to work.  The committee decided to take its case to court.  The bridge case went through the Northumberland county courts several times, through Union County courts several times, through superior court, supreme court and state legislature twice.

Finally, the committee succeeded in having a new law passed by the state legislature to suit the case, permitting the counties of Northumberland and Union to pay their share according to population, instead of a 50-50 basis with Northumberland County paying about 80% of the cost.

The mandamus for the bridge was secured through the efforts of Atty. Harry S. Knight (1868-1957), a successful lawyer in Sunbury and formerly of Watsontown.  The mandamus was issued November 5, 1915 by order of court compelling the county commissioners to build the bridge. 

George W. Rockwell (1874-1953) was hired as the contractor to erect the Watsontown-White Deer Bridge at a cost of $309,000.  Construction began on July 12, 1927 and was finished in time for the formal dedication on July 4, 1928.  The Reverend Preston A. DeLong (1873-1942) of Trinity Evangelical and Reformed Church was the chairperson to organize the celebration of the dedication of the bridge which included a flag raising ceremony at 10:30 that morning at the Boy Scouts headquarters on Ash Street, a ball game at Memorial Park and a grand parade beginning at 2:30 and culminated with a mass meeting held at the east end of the bridge on Second Street.  The principal address was made by Harry S. Knight who was a great promoter for the bridge.

In appreciation of the efforts of William Brimmer in securing the bridge, Second Street in Watsontown leading up to the bridge was renamed Brimmer Avenue.

[The Milton Standard, August 11, 1967, pg 17.]

The overhead Bridge on First Street was originally constructed prior to May 1885 “when it was raised by almost two feet – to insure the lives of their employees while passing on the train under the bridge.”  The original design of the bridge was known as a Thru Lattice Truss Type.

Last Modified: 05.04.12

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