So, we continue with the images from the 15th, starting with odometer 97945.
Okay, I lied. I did manage to get a little of the old Roosevelt Hwy alignment
that is now signed as Business US 6 between I-81 and through Carbondale, PA.
I have not tried to photograph it exhaustively as time was short.
Instead, I went on the Governor Robert P. Casey Highway, which is a true
freeway and acts as a full multi-mile bypass around it with grade-separated
interchanges and six exits ("exit 7" is just the turnoff where the bypass
rejoins). Originally the Lackawanna Valley Industrial Hwy, it is a relatively
recent upgrade with its groundbreaking in 1994 and full completion in 1999,
named for the Pennsylvania governor at that time. Note how it has regular
MUTCD green mileposts, which you can compare with the Pennsylvania postmile
below it. Also note the INVASION OF CLEARVIEW!
The rain was really unpredictable that day, and just when you thought things
were clearing up, another squall rolled along.
A section of US 6, not marked on any of my maps but signed in the field,
long since bypassed. There are a lot of these.
As we enter into Pike county,
US 6 passes by Lake Wallenpaupack, an artificial reservoir created in
1926-7 by the Pennsylvania
Power and Light Company as a hydroelectric source. Originally there was just a
stream, named by the Leni-Lenape Indians as "the stream of swift and slow
water" probably referring to its variable meanders and rushes; at one time,
William Penn himself owned the land. Circa 1923, PPL started buying up local
right-of-way to construct a dam on the stream and started building it in 1924.
This increased their generating capacity by nearly twenty-five percent when
they completed it, and the lake became the largest man-made body of water in
the entire state as the stream backed up into the valley. Today it is a very
popular recreation park and fishing spot.
Pike county is named for explorer Zebulon Pike (1779-1813), the same Pike
in Pikes Peak, Colorado. Although historically second fiddle to Louis and
Clark's expedition, his Pike expedition was critically important to the
mapping of the southern portion of the Louisiana Purchase. He died in combat
in the War of 1812 as a retreating British garrison detonated their ammo
store and blew rock into the air, a chunk of which struck and killed him.
Created from Wayne county in 1814, it has a population of 46,302 .
Milford, the county seat of Pike county, with a population of 1,104 .
The surrounding township was created in 1832, but was laid out far earlier
by John Biddis in 1796, and settled as early as 1733 by Tom Quick.
Where the name comes from is unclear but the most
plausible explanation is that it was named for Milford Haven, where Biddis'
father William was born in Wales. The borough here was incorporated in 1874.
Milford is possibly, or possibly not, the terminus of US 206, US 6's single
only extant spur. (The other spur, US 106, has been since decommissioned
but survives to touch US 6 as modern
PA 706 back in Wyalusing -- this will appear in the full photoessay.) Near
as Dale "US Highway Ends" Sanderson can tell, sometime in the past US 206 and
US 209 were co-signed together up to this point in downtown Milford so that
US 206 would legitimately touch US 6 and be a true child route.
Nowadays most prevailing signage no longer proves this to be the case and
US 206 comes off just a half mile or so outside of town to cross the Delaware
River into New Jersey, meaning US 6 and US 206 no longer touch anymore.
However, there are
still old button copy signs up at this junction that claim US 206 and US 209
to be cosigned up into Milford; sadly,
this is at odds with all current maps and my
NAVTEQ plots, and appears to only be historical.
US 6 and US 209 run together alongside I-84 to cross into New York state and
Port Jervis. I-84 now figures large into our equation, a strange split
Interstate with a western half (as seen in US
395 Part 23) and this eastern half.
This is as much of a state line sign as we get on this alignment
(the bigger brag is obviously saved for the freeway).
Port Jervis is named for Delaware and Hudson Canal Chief Engineer John B.
Jervis, who created a critical railroad link over the Moosic Mountains to allow
coal to be transported through the D&H Canals. The original plan was to
make the transport fully through water, but the 1,000-plus foot grade would
required an awesome number of locks, plus water to fill them, which was scant.
Jervis' brainwave was designing a so-called "gravity railroad" which used a
series of inclined planes and steam engines to pull the coal cars up and over.
Completed in 1829, the Carbondale-to-Honesdale, PA grade was expanded to
transport a great deal more than coal, including wood, stone, brick and
cement. His other great invention was the "Jervis" swivel truck, a clever
device for steam locomotives enabling them to negotiate tight mountain turns
and facilitating the construction of track in areas otherwise quite
inhospitable to railroad traffic.
Jervis then went on to become the Chief Engineer of the famous Erie
Canal, staying in a small New York town for two years to supervise it. The
town, impressed by his abilities, named itself after him, and in return Jervis
(it is said) requested that the Erie Railroad be routed along it. The modern
town has 8,860 .
New York likes their suffixed routes. Part of US 6 picks up NY 17M, which
appears to be at least partially an old alignment of US 6, and then both
US 6/NY 17M jump onto NY 17, which is a (very very busy) freeway through the
southern portion of the state. NY 17M then comes off and at least for part of
the way runs parallel to the freeway in a manner that appears to approximate
the old route.
Since we're mentioning New York suffixes, there is another 6N, NY 6N (near
Mahopac). This is probably also a bypassed old alignment.
US 6 then splits from NY 17 just before the Thruway and
turns into a mini-Super 2 to enter Harriman State Park, named for railroad
magnate Edward Henry Harriman and his wife Mary Averell Harriman. After
his death in 1909, Mary Harriman informed New York Governor Charles Evans
Hughes that she would donate 10,000 acres of land and $1 million
to form a park on the site if the state would match with $2.5 million and
shelve their plans for a prison on nearby Bear Mountain. Hughes agreed and
the land and funds were transferred in 1910. Since expanded to 46,613 acres,
Harriman State Park is the second largest in the state with 31 lakes and
over 200 miles of hiking trails.
As part of its routing through Harriman State Park, US 6 is co-routed with
the Palisades Interstate Parkway (which appears to be unsigned NY 987C in
this section based on NYDOT postmiles on the alignment). Also designated
NY 445 in other regions, the PIP is a 42-mile expressway/freeway planned in
1940 with construction performed between 1947 and 1958 at a cost of $47
million to provide access to the seventeen state parks and five historic
sites along its service region. A true parkway, most of the PIP is through
wooded park country like this charming bridge (just past exit 19). As with
most New York parkways, commercial traffic is banned and must take a bypass
route along NY 293 to US 9W to avoid this section of US 6.
The PIP then ends at a roundabout with US 202 and US 9W, and US 202 and US 6
cross over the tremendous EB-tolled Bear Mountain Bridge over the Hudson River.
Opened in 1924, the Bear Mountain was the longest suspension bridge in the
world at its inauguration
with a main span of 1,632', max clearance of 135'
and a total length of 2,322'. Plans for a
bridge in this region dated back as far as 1868 but none got off the ground
until the opening of the popular Bear Mountain State Park nearby in 1916.
Slow ferries were the only method of transportation then and complaints
grew voluminous enough to introduce a bill in 1922 that authorized a private
entity to build and maintain a crossing of sufficient size for 30 years and
then relinquish it to the state. The Bear Mountain Hudson Bridge Company used
then-revolutionary steel construction techniques and 7,377 miles of steel
wire to generate the twin massive 18-inch-diametre cables which can be seen
disappearing into the anchorages in the picture above. These, the east
anchorages, tunnel 90 feet into the rock (the west anchorages over 110'),
connecting the twin 20' x 50' concrete piers on which the 351' steel towers
stand. The entire construction, including renovation of approach roads, cost
$4.5 million but took
only two years and was rightfully hailed as a fabulous engineering achievement.
Unfortunately, it lost its crown as the longest suspension span to the
Benjamin Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia only two years later in 1926 and the
bridge went on to become a colossal financial failure, operating at a loss
for 13 of its 16 years until the Company gave up and sold out to the state
Overlooking the Hudson River valley on this rainy day. The Hudson River is
named for English explorer Henry Hudson who explored it in 1609 for the Dutch.
Running 279 miles with an average discharge of greater than 21,000 cubic feet
per second at Lower New York Bay, the Hudson was a much longer river in the
distant past; after the retreat of the North American Ice Age ca. 10,000 BC,
the rising sea levels drowned the ancient mouth of the river and its coastal
plain under the Atlantic Ocean. A cultural and political boundary marker, the
Hudson is a very important part of New York life today.
US 6 and US 202 co-route with NY 35 into nearby Peekskill. Peekskill is, of
course, the setting of The Facts of Life, but has a few other famous
things associated with it, including being the birthplace of current NY
Governor George Pataki, actors Pee-Wee Herman (Paul Reubens) and Mel Gibson,
and basketball star Elton Brand. "Peek" comes from Dutchman Jan Peeck, the
first European to enter the area in 1650, after whom
the Dutch and English gave the
region the name 'Jan Peecks Kil' ("Jan Peeck's Creek"). It became the site
of the Revolutionary War Battle of Peekskill in 1777 and was the site of
regional military command until its transfer to nearby West Point in 1778;
incorporated as a village in 1816, the modern city was founded in 1940. It has
22,441 residents today .
However, you can run over the smart ones.
Eventually US 6 and US 202 bounce into an expressway alignment and leave the
state (its routing in New York is fairly short) into Connecticut and Danbury
Remember that I said I-84 would be figuring into our equation a fair bit, and
for much of its routing in Connecticut, it does. As we pass through Danbury
(probably named for Danbury in Essex, England; population 78,263 [2004
est.]), we see this advance signage for I-84 and US 7. (US 6
and US 202 are also corouted but the signage is very, very easy to miss.) The
old alignment goes through Danbury and then crosses the Housatonic River over
a nice truss crossing which regrettably we have no time for today -- my
apologies to Paul Grochowski who sent me a long list of lovely old alignments
and I got so bogged down that I could only pick a few.
Eventually US 6 trends northeast through Woodbury and Watertown towards the
north end of Bristol.
The typical countryside here is relatively densely forested in many spots.
In fact, while using US 44 as a shortcut, the GPS actually had trouble getting
a signal for the very first time during the entire trip and had to completely
reacquire several times due to the poor sky visibility.
A 1929 creek crossing along the old route.
Finally, I-84 sucks us back in as we prepare to enter the state capital of
Hartford. We'll stop here for today.