Arguing for the Midland bridge

Dear Editor:

Regarding your article on the Maroon Creek Bridge by Scott Condon (“Bridges over Maroon Creek,” March 26), a foot­note on the history of the Midland Rail­road Bridge: Had it not been for the generosity of D.R.C. Brown Sr., the course of events might have been different and the his­toric Midland bridge might not have sur­vived its illustrious 120 years.

The following is a quote from The Aspen Times in 1929: “On September the 10th, A.E. Car­leton sold to D. R. C. Brown, the Mid­land Steel bridge over Maroon Creek for consideration of $500.00 and on Decem­ber 3rd, 1929 D. R. C. Brown conveyed the same to the County of Pitkin as a free gift. The deed also conveys the land from the east end of the bridge to the Newman switch. The commissioners will now ask the State Highway Department to accept same as a part of State Highway 82.”

For the newcomer to Aspen, here are some important facts: 1) A.E. Carleton was the last owner and operator of the Colorado Midland Railroad, which was abandoned in 1922.

2) The “Newman switch” was located near the present site of the roundabout.

3) The Midland bridge was modified for use as a two lane highway bridge for cars and trucks.

4) The original railroad bridge was fabricated by the Niagara Iron Works of Buffalo, N.Y., and had to be shipped to Colorado across the country by rail; thus, the reason why the Colorado Midland Railroad lost its race with the Denver and Rio Grande railroad into Aspen.

In closing, this historic bridge should be designated the “Midland Bridge” as a tribute to 19th century technology and iron-worker craftsmanship. Upon com­pletion of the new bridge, the historic Midland bridge should be converted to its original railroad bridge configuration as a permanent monument to the audacity and skills of the early railroad pioneers of Colorado. Indeed, the Midland bridge has served this community well and will continue to serve the citizens of Pitkin County for another 120 years.

Jim Markalunas