Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Ben's Bridge - who is Ben and why is a bridge named after him?

I hope you have had a chance to read my Our Towne Bethlehem article about the Selkirk Rail Yard. If not, here's a link - go quick because a new article will be up for January.  http://www.ourtownebethlehem.com/

The cover photo is of a young girl on Ben's Bridge.  As I type this, the bridge that carries Old School Road over the rail yard is coming down and the legacy of Ben Giovannetti will be lost.

Old timers remember it being called Jericho Bridge.  While the Jericho place name is no longer recognized, the little hamlet once boasted a small community of farm families and a one room school.  Today's Jericho Road, Route 53, once continued from 9W over the bridge and on to South Albany (another little recognized hamlet) and South Bethlehem. You can follow Rt 53 on a modern map connecting Jericho Road, Old School Road, and South Albany Road.

In the late 1980s and early 90s there was an effort to close the Jericho Bridge, and a counter movement by residents to keep it open. The bridge was saved. and in 1993 it was renamed  to honor Ben Giovannetti, unsung bridge hero.

To read more about the controversy, pop on over to the Spotlight archive at the Bethlehem Public Library and search on "Jericho Bridge"

Sadly, just 25+ years later, despite the objections of many, Ben's Bridge will shortly, if not already, be no more.  Curious? Check out the I Care About Ben's Bridge Facebook group for photos.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Erlenwein and Simmons Road

This is for the woman I met at the Delmar Farmer's Market on Saturday. I am sorry to admit I forgot to get her name or contact info.  She asked me about the pillars at the entrance to Simmons Road in Glenmont.  One has the name Erlenwein on it.  "Who or what is Erlenwein?" she asked.

The entrance to Simmons Road.

The connection is through family - as many connections are in doing historical research.

According to the obituary I found, Mrs. Katherine L. Simmons of Glenmont was the wife of Harry Simmons, and the daughter of Martin Kramrath and Catherine Erlenwein Kramrath.

The obit is from the Knickerbocker News, January 27, 1941

To make a nice neat story, I am going to assume that Katherine and Harry Simmons are the ones the road is named after.  So, Erlenwein is her mother's maiden name.  Now I am filled with more curiosity.  Which house was theirs? What are the other names on the pillars?  Why did they put those names on the entrance pillars? Time for a road trip to Glenmont!