Easton-Philipsburg Free Bridge/Northampton Street Bridge and Two Rivers Landing, Easton, Northampton County

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The Easton-Philipsburg Free Bridge/Northampton Street Bridge is a span that has always caught my eye. It is so different from anything in that region of the state and in the state in general. It dates back to 1895 and was constructed by James Madison Porter III, an individual who was also instrumental in creating a world class civil engineering program at Easton’s Lafayette College. All of our views of the bridge and the junction of the Lehigh and Delaware Rivers are technically in the “and beyond” category, over in Phillipsburg, NJ. Growing up, I would often make the trek across the bridge to the land of much cheaper gas and gas station attendants to go to the gas station on the immediate other end of the bridge. 

This bridge was damaged but not destroyed by many serious floods in the Delaware River Valley. In 1955 following Hurricanes Connie and Diane, three other crossings were almost completely washed away. The Free Bridge got serious damage after spans from a covered bridge upstream dammed up on the bridge and a gap was formed in the center of the bridge after it sheered through. The Free Bridge stood damaged but not destroyed. Other major floods have gone through, and one time even a small house flooded down river from up north and the bridge. Easton is a scrappy city that is always up for a challenge though, as demonstrated by its favorite son, Larry Holmes, boxing champion, who grew up Easton. 

The official record on the bridge in the Historic American Engineering Record reads as follows:

The Northampton Street Bridge is one of a few extant eye-bar cantilever bridges in the United States. Its 50′-0″-long central span, supported between two 250′-0″ cantilever arms, is carefully disguised by superfluous members so as to appear as a smooth catenary. Its appearance is tastefully balanced between Gothic flamboyance and a spartan machine aesthetic — a piece of urban “structural art.” Designed by James Madison Porter III, professor of engineering at nearby Lafayette College and an early advocate of materials testing, this bridge is his most important work. Bethlehem Steel Company repaired the structure to its original design in 1957, after it was heavily damaged by a flood two years previous. The Northampton Street Bridge has been designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

– Historic American Engineering Record

View from the bridge

In this view you can see the confluence of the Lehigh and Delaware Rivers. The Lehigh River has multiple dams that create small navigable sections of river. The Delaware River is free flowing through its whole course through New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

In the distance on the far right of this photo you can see the Easton-Phillipsburg Toll Bridge. This is an incredible bridge. 





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