New Overlook Showcases Kingsley Bridge

 

An overview of the Martins Creek Viaduct, a concrete railroad bridge
Martins Creek Viaduct Scenic Overlook, Kingsley, PA.

 

At 150 feet tall and 1,600 feet long, the Martins Creek Viaduct is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Known locally as the Kingsley Bridge, the massive concrete structure stretches across the valley with arches soaring high above the farmland and forests below.

It’s a scene that Richard Zick, president emeritus of the Brooklyn Historical Society, knows well. As a boy, he remembers gazing at the viaduct from the hilltops of his family farm.

“The railroad and the bridge just excited me as a little kid,” he recalled. “I used to see the steam engines going across there. The trains would be over a mile long, hauling coal out of Scranton and going north. During the war years, the train would haul troops. Then, there would be a whole trainload of Army trucks or Jeeps or tanks. It was an exciting time in my life.”

 

A black-and-white photo of the bridge during construction
July 1914. Photo provided by Steamtown National Historic Site.

 

For many years, a small, unofficial pull-off provided a view of the bridge. Locals knew the spot, but otherwise, it was off the beaten path.

“It just seemed like something that ought to be enjoyed by more people,” explained Zick.

Working with the current landowner, the Brooklyn Historical Society constructed the Martins Creek Viaduct Scenic Overlook on Zicks Hill Road. The view opened in summer 2022 and features an informational sign and a gravel parking area.

“We put up a security camera, and there isn’t a day goes by that I don’t see somebody there,” said Zick. “We’ve had as high as fifteen or seventeen people there in a given day.”

The new overlook provides a sweeping panoramic view where sightseers can admire the bridge, take photos, and learn a bit about the region’s railroading legacy.

 

History of the Viaduct

 

A black-and-white photo of the bridge during construction
July 1914. Photo provided by Steamtown National Historic Site.

 

The Martins Creek Viaduct was constructed between 1912 and 1914 for the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Company. Both the Martins Creek Viaduct and its larger, younger cousin, the Tunkhannock Creek Viaduct, were part of a new and improved rail line called the Clarks Summit-Hallstead Cutoff. The cutoff would eliminate the steep grades, sharp curves, and unsafe public crossings of the original railroad.

Builders used the most cutting-edge techniques to construct the Martins Creek Viaduct, including some of the same technologies used to create the Panama Canal just a few years earlier. Steam-powered machinery made construction faster than ever before. Members of the American Society of Civil Engineers traveled all the way from New York City to see this man-made wonder.

 

A black-and-white photo of workers standing on metal beams
Construction workers on top of the viaduct, July 1914. Photo provided by Steamtown National Historic Site.

 

The Martins Creek Viaduct was completed ahead of schedule and under budget. To celebrate, the railroad hosted the “Aerial Dance” on top of the bridge on September 3, 1914. About 200 guests attended. A construction derrick served as a makeshift elevator and hoisted carriages full of attendees up to the deck. The extravagant party even featured electric lights, elaborate decorations, and a performance by the Oppenheim Orchestra of New York City.

 

A black-and-white photo of a formal party on top of the viaduct
The Aerial Dance, September 1914. Photo provided by Steamtown National Historic Site.

 

The bridge officially opened in 1915. During World War I, soldiers set up an Army camp just north of the bridge to guard it from bombings. This carried over into World War II, when local air wardens watched the skies for planes.

The Martins Creek Viaduct still stands today as a reminder of Susquehanna County’s role in America’s railroading history. In fact, it is still in use by the Norfolk Southern Railroad, and several trains pass by each day. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot one crossing the bridge.

 

Visit the Overlook

 

A black-and-white photo of the bridge during construction
Viaduct looking east, July 1914. Photo provided by Steamtown National Historic Site.

 

For the best views, visit the Martins Creek Viaduct Scenic Overlook on Zicks Hill Road near Kingsley. If using Google Maps, search “Scenic Overlook (Kingsley Bridge) Viaduct.” Note that cell phone service may be limited, so print directions or download an offline map before your trip.

From Interstate 81: Take exit 211 and follow signs for PA-106 West. Continue on PA-106 West for about 6 miles until you reach Kingsley, then turn left onto Route 11 South. Continue for about 2 miles, then turn right onto Charles Road. Cross the bridge, and you will reach the intersection of Creek Road and Zicks Hill Road. Continue up Zicks Hill Road for about 0.3 mile. The overlook will be on your right.

 

Historical photos provided by Steamtown National Historic Site. Special thanks to Richard Zick, David Palmer, and the Brooklyn Historical Society for their assistance in researching this article. For further reading, see The Martins Creek Viaduct & the D.,L.&W. Railroad in Alford, Kingsley & Hop Bottom, Pennsylvania, USA 100 Years Ago by John Martin Darcy II, Ph.D.

 

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