An unidentified steam locomotive stopped on the Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge, c. 1856.

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>”The success of this extraordinary bridge is now to be considered an established fact. The trains of the New York Central, and of the Great Western Railroad in Canada, have been crossing regularly since the 18th of March [1855], averaging over thirty trips per day. . . . The great rivers of this continent will no longer offer an insurmountable obstruction to the formation of uninterrupted lines of railways.”

>John August Roebling’s comments make clear that he was proud of having designed and engineered the Niagara Railway suspension bridge, the first bridge of its type in the world. After its completion, photographers like the Langenheim Brothers flocked to Niagara to document the achievement in compelling ways. This stereograph shows a locomotive passing over the bridge while the still, scenic river barely ripples below.

>Roebling’s prophecy about future railways proved true. More daring and innovative constructions soon facilitated trains crossing the great rivers of the United States. Photographers followed, documenting the achievements in lavish detail.


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