Sunday, April 3, 2011

Great Falls bis


What did I say last time? Old pictures of the Great Falls. You'll see old timey stuff, and the pipe suspension bridge, and me looking horribly young. Well. Once you announce your intentions on the interwebs, you have an oblogation.

PASSAIC FALLS, N. J. / No. 2 / The Falls and Bridge across the Gully from the Basin. / This shows the place where the celebrated Sam Patch jumped from the old tree on the left, down 80 feet to the water. / PUBLISHED BY E. & H. T. ANTHONY & CO., / American and Foreign Stereoscopic Emporium, 501 Broadway, New-York.

Oh, Sam Patch. The Jersey Jumper. Famous for tossing himself off high places. Guess how he died, at age 29. Supposedly his tombstone read: Sam Patch – Such is Fame. Yes. He began his two-year career demonstrating the force of gravity right here near the falls.

We see here one of the earlier footbridges, before the arched bridge of 1888. Some of the Anthony stereo views are images as old as the 1860s. Unbelievably it is a covered bridge! After all why would anyone crossing here want to see out?

Somehow a Detroit Photographic Company agent snapped his lens from the same viewpoint in 1900. There's the arched bridge we know, but this was still before the hydro plant was built.

The beauty of nature! If you were standing here and turned around you'd see blocks of brick mill buildings worked from the system of watercourses that diverted some of the Passaic's flow. But we won't turn around.

And about seventy years later, Jack Boucher exposed some film at the same location again. The arched bridge has been joined by the little suspension bridge for the big pipe. It even had little stone towers at each end! It was cute.

And ten years after that, I joined the greats with my own version.

Notice the fine detail you get with "110" film. Not.

The interesting thing is the relative lack of water in August 1980. That's always been a problem with using the Passaic River for hydro-electric power. We have dry summers in New Jersey sometimes. There used to be a backup coal-fired generating station next to the hydro plant, right where the visitor parking lot is now, to ensure that the power lines emanating from this point always had some juice.

Maybe you want a better look at the suspension bridge for the pipe.

Although it's obscured by the arched bridge, this 1971 view shows you both towers of the suspension bridge. What I can't figure out is the condition of the arched bridge. It does not seem to have the sides it needs as a footbridge, and it seems to have a second pipe running across it.

But let's not worry about it. Here we are in 1980, looking from the arched bridge at the falls and the rainbow, and getting a very good view of the pipe bridge, which was always in the way.

See that? The two curved cables support vertical cables that hold up the cross bars that hold up the pipe. And that's it. No floor as such.

What a great looking girl! Am I still married to her? Yes I am.

So, upper left, there's one of the towers of the pipe's own suspension bridge, if something that short can be called a tower. You can click to enlarge. You won't get any detail of the tower, just film grain. But you can click to enlarge.

Also, upper right, you can see the 1838 dam in the river. We had a view something like this last time. Back in 1980 we could walk around closer to the falls than we could in 2011. That wall next to Helen is partially collapsed now, and people are not allowed down there.

Another view from 1900 reveals that there's something artificial in the river right at the top of the falls. That's still there too. I didn't notice it on site, but I can make it out in the photographs. Some of the buildings in the right background are still there, but not that tall smokestack.

Roughly the same view in 1980. The spirit of the falls— the rock that divides it in two— is on the left: compare its profile in the 1900 view. It doesn't stand out so much here with the diminished flow of water.

This also shows how little water was flowing. That's the 1838 dam again back near the bridge. In March 2011 the river was gushing over it.

Oh well. I said you would see this. What can I do?

Look at the waterfall. Look at the two bridges. And also, this serves as proof that a certain young dude was there, "in case someone thought they had missed it".



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