The Bridges of Oradell Avenue

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The Bridges of Oradell Avenue

A Journey into Oradell

It is not unusual after a major storm for folks to look back in time as to how the river has treated Oradell over the years.  Notwithstanding climate change, floods in recent years are neither the first nor the most notorious.

The most recalled flood in local histories took place our in the 20th century. The year was 1903.

A new stylish stone arch bridge on Oradell Avenue spanned the river. The bridge had been completed some eight years earlier, replacing an earlier series of wooden bridges.

The idea at the time was for the new stone bridge to be able to withstand the occasional thaw floods that had wreaked havoc with the earlier bridges. For example, there is the wooden bridge that was washed away in 1839.

But in 1903 that stone arch bridge which was thought be sturdy enough “to last forever” was washed away as well.

There are period pictures showing the aftermath of the flood. In one such shot, locals can be seen gazing at the remnants of the destroyed bridge. In background, one can also see the view up Oradell Avenue towards Kinderkamack Road. There is a train crossing sign and there on the left the Oradell train station can be seen.

The other picture is snapshot of a cable crossing that was used to cross the river until a pontoon bridge could be built.

Later bridges would be far less attractive than the early 20th century structure that did not last even a decade.

More than a century later, the present bridge stands, though the floods continue to haunt the town.

This article was first written for inclusion in River Dell Patch - it ran there in May, 2011

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Source Materials - Biography of A Borough: Oradell (1969), by Irving Crump; Oradell Centennial; 1894-1994…..Thanks to Borough Historian Frank Vierling for his guidance. And, a special thank you to Borough Archivist, George Carter for his ear, his support generally and in particular his help in securing historic pictures from the Borough/Library Collection….. The Archives, located at the Oradell Public Library, are open to the public the first Friday afternoon of the month from 1-5 p.m.