Wednesday, October 31, 2012

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Today we have another installment of Charlene Dodds's rephotography project, in which she's visiting places shown on old postcards sent to and from her great aunt, her grandmother, and their friends. (In case you missed it, further details on the project are spelled out here, and Charlene's first report from the road is available here.)

Here's the latest from Charlene:

After my first stop in York, Pennsylvania, I headed north on I-83 to Harrisburg. I wanted to visit the state capitol building, which is shown on a postcard sent to my great aunt from her aunt in 1907.

Some quick background: This is actually the third capitol building in Harrisburg. The first one was destroyed in 1897 by a fire, and a second one was left unfinished due to lack of funds. The Capitol Building Commission was formed in 1901 to hold a competition open only to Pennsylvania architects. They selected a Beaux-Arts design by Joseph Miller Huston. Known as the Huston Capitol, it was designed in 1902 and dedicated in 1906, a year before this postcard was sent [for all of these images, you can click to enlarge]:

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Here's a roughly equivalent view from when I visited more than a century after the postcard was sent:

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Obviously, something's missing. What became of the Washington Monument-like obelisk that's show in the middle of the postcard image? It took quite a bit of research to uncover the answer. The Dauphin County Veteran's Memorial Obelisk was originally erected in 1876 in memory of the county’s Civil War dead. It stood 110 feet high and weighed over 600 tons. After decades of exposure to traffic and the elements left it looking a bit grim, it was refurbished and relocated to Third and Division streets, where it remains today.

Next, I headed a few miles north of Harrisburg. My designation was the Rockville Bridge, the “largest stone arch bridge in the world,” according to this postcard sent to my grandfather in 1922:

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The bridge was completed in 1902. Although it's no longer the world's largest stone arch bridge, it remains the world's longest stone masonry arch railroad viaduct, with a total length of 3,820 feet. You can learn more about the bridge here.

The bridge is still in use today. Here's how it looked during my visit:

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Very, very nice. Thanks for the great material, Charlene -- keep it coming.

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