Rustic Bridge, NPS Route No. 13 spanning Crum Elbow Creek, Hyde Park, Dutchess County, NY
Significance: The Rustic Bridge is an example of the Melan arch system of concrete construction, and as such is an example of the reinforced-concrete bridge systems introduced in the U.S. in the late nineteenth century. Part of a continuum of masonry, concrete, and reinforced concrete arch bridges, the development by the Viennese engineer Josef Melan of the Melan arch led to a new design in bridge construction. The combination of a concrete arch with reinforcement through metal I-beams was an inexpensive yet durable method of bridge construction as it required less concrete and allowed for shallower arch shapes. By 1894, there was a U.S. patent for the Melan arch, the technique of which was disseminated in the United States by Fritz von Emperger. The versatility of the Melan arch design can be seen in the Rustic Bridge, with its cobblestone facing. The Rustic Bridge also represents the aesthetic problems attendant with using new materials and techniques. Reinforced concrete was a new, more modern material that did not lend itself well to a rustic setting like the Vanderbilt estate, but a facing of stone allowed the bridge to complement its setting.
Unprocessed Field note material exists for this structure: N910
Survey number: HAER NY-321
Building/structure dates: 1899-1900 Initial Construction