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The Rich History of Ambridge, Pennsylvania and the American Bridge Company – Featured Archive
The Rich History of Ambridge, Pennsylvania and the American Bridge Company – Featured Archive 1024 629 Southland Holdings

The Rich History of Ambridge, Pennsylvania and the American Bridge Company

On June 8, 2024, Ambridge celebrated the 200-year anniversary of the roots of their town. Originally known as Economy, the town still embraces their origins featuring the Old Economy Village. In 1903, when American Bridge moved to town, many things changed and the once quiet Christian town turned into the largest steel manufacturing area in the world.

The Origins of the Harmony Society

Before Ambridge became synonymous with steel and bridges, it was the home of the Harmony Society, a devout Christian communal group from Germany. Founded by George Rapp in 1804, the Harmonists initially settled in Butler County, Pennsylvania. Seeking fertile land and better opportunities, they moved westward to the Indiana Territory in 1815, establishing a community there until 1824.

In 1824, the Harmonists returned to Pennsylvania, purchasing 3,000 acres of virgin forest in Beaver County. Here, they founded their third and final community, which they named “Economy.” This settlement was characterized by its prosperous agriculture, textile production, and strict communal living. Economy thrived for many years, becoming a model of communal success in America through trade and farming prowess.

The Birth of the American Bridge Company

Fast forward to 1900, the dawn of the 20th century, when industrialization was transforming America. J.P. Morgan, one of the most influential financiers of the era, orchestrated the creation of the American Bridge Company by merging 28 smaller steel companies. This consolidation aimed to harness the collective strength of these companies, making AB a titan in the steel fabrication and manufacturing industries.

In 1903, AB completed the construction of a state-of-the-art fabricating and manufacturing facility in southwestern Pennsylvania. This facility was built on land bought from the Harmony Society and was the largest of its kind in the world at the time. The establishment of this plant led to the birth of a surrounding town, aptly named Ambridge—a mixture of “American” and “Bridge.” American Bridge’s arrival in the area also marked the ending of the Harmonists. By 1905 the Harmony Society was dissolved due to their beliefs and vows of celibacy.

Ambridge: A Town Built on Steel

Ambridge quickly grew around the booming American Bridge Company plant. The plant’s output was prodigious, contributing steel to some of the most iconic structures of the 20th century. The Empire State Building, the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge, and numerous LSTs (Landing Ship, Tanks) used during World War II were all products of the steel manufactured in Ambridge. This industrial prowess cemented Ambridge’s place in history as a crucial player in America’s infrastructural development.

The American Bridge Company was integral to Ambridge’s economy and identity for nearly eight decades. However, by 1982, changes in the global economy and shifts in the steel industry led AB to close its Ambridge plant. This departure marked the end of an era for the town, which had to reinvent itself in the face of new economic realities.

The Parade

On June 8th, Ambridge honored its multifaceted history with a parade that celebrated 200 years since the founding of Economy by the Harmony Society. This parade is not just a commemoration of the town’s industrial achievements but also a tribute to the Harmonists who laid the early foundations of the community. The Old Economy Village, which is home to the original Harmonist Church and homes, is a vibrant area and hosted many events for families and residents. It is also a reminder of how the early days of the town looked. As the Harmony Society’s influence waned, the rise of the American Bridge Company brought a new wave of residents and development, transforming Economy into Ambridge. The parade is a celebration of the past, present and future of this historic town. American Bridge and Southland were honored to return to the town and reconnect with the town that played such a pivotal role in its development.

Jollyville Transmission Main Tunnel – Featured Archive
Jollyville Transmission Main Tunnel – Featured Archive 650 384 Southland Holdings

In the bustling city of Austin, Texas, an extraordinary engineering project lies deep beneath the surface: the Jollyville Transmission Main Tunnel. Designed to enhance the city’s water infrastructure, this ambitious project ensures that local businesses and residents have a reliable water supply. Here’s a closer look at this remarkable feat of engineering.

Project Overview

The Jollyville Transmission Main Tunnel is a crucial part of Austin’s water distribution network. Its primary purpose is to transport water from Water Treatment Plant 4 (WTP4) to the Jollyville Reservoir. Spanning over 35,000 linear feet (LF) and reaching depths of 120 to 350 feet, the tunnel was constructed to avoid disrupting environmentally sensitive areas.

Three Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) were employed to excavate three segments of the tunnel: 20,650 LF, 9,600 LF, and 4,750 LF. The tunnel is lined with an 84-inch prestressed concrete cylinder pipe (PCCP) and grouted in place, except for an 800-foot section under the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve, where steel pipe was used.

Key Infrastructure

Four pivotal shafts were essential to the project:

  • WTP4 Access Shaft: 210 feet deep with a 13-foot diameter.
  • Four Points Area Shaft: 275 feet deep with a 45-foot diameter, serving as the main working shaft for two of the three tunnel drives.
  • Pard Shaft: 130 feet deep with a 31-foot diameter, located in an affluent residential area.
  • Jollyville Reservoir Shaft: 350 feet deep with a 48-foot diameter, the deepest and longest working shaft.

Environmental Considerations

The tunnel passes through uniform limestone and dolomite rock, with careful planning to protect the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve. This preserve is a habitat for several endangered species, including the Jollyville Plateau Salamander. The construction team used non-invasive techniques to minimize environmental impact, particularly in the preserve area.

Innovations and Challenges

One of the standout innovations was Southland’s in-house design and manufacture of two 11-foot internal diameter double-shield hard rock TBMs, which were crucial for efficient excavation. Additionally, a custom-engineered pipe carrier system significantly increased the pipe installation rate, saving over 350 days in the schedule.

Despite the complexities, the project maintained an exceptional safety record with no lost time incidents. The success was also due in part to a robust public outreach program that ensured zero environmental impacts and garnered positive community feedback.

A Legacy of Innovation

The Jollyville Transmission Main Tunnel stands as a testament to innovative engineering and environmental stewardship. It not only ensures a reliable water supply for Austin but also exemplifies how modern infrastructure projects can harmonize with nature and community needs. This subterranean marvel continues to support Austin’s growth while preserving its natural heritage.

Treasure Island Bascule Bridge – Featured Archive
Treasure Island Bascule Bridge – Featured Archive 1024 685 Southland Holdings

The Treasure Island Bascule Bridge, located in Florida, is an iconic structure that spans Boca Ciega Bay, connecting the city of Treasure Island to the mainland. This drawbridge, renowned for its distinctive bascule design, plays a vital role in the region’s infrastructure by allowing both vehicular and maritime traffic to coexist efficiently. When closed, it facilitates the smooth flow of cars and pedestrians across the bay, while its ability to open on demand provides a crucial passage for boats navigating the Intracoastal Waterway. The bridge is not only a functional marvel but also a scenic landmark, offering picturesque views of the surrounding waterways and enhancing the coastal charm of Treasure Island. Regular maintenance and upgrades ensure its operational reliability, making it a pivotal feature of the local transportation network, and a beloved symbol of the area’s maritime heritage. 

Project Overview 

The Treasure Island Bascule Bridge replacement project was overseen by John Meagher, supported by superintendents Mike Brown and Paul Duchene, with safety supervision led by John Hogan.The project began in January 2005 and was completed in August 2007. The bridge, featuring a double leaf design and a vertical clearance of 6.40 meters when closed, has won multiple awards for its construction excellence. Treasure Island’s original causeway bascule bridge, constructed in 1939, served as a toll bridge for 76 years. Southland was chosen for the marine project, carrying out all construction work from the water using barges and flexi floats. Known for its appealing art deco design, the Treasure Island Causeway features a computerized drawbridge controlled by a touch screen monitor. In its closed position, the bridge offers a vertical clearance of 6.40 meters. 

Engineering and Design 

The new bridge, constructed using barges, showcases a sophisticated bascule system with a computerized control operated by a touch screen monitor. This state-of-the-art control house underscores the bridge’s advanced engineering. The project included extensive roadway work, barrier walls, erosion and sedimentation control, pavement removal, clearing and grubbing, and the demolition of existing structures. Additionally, embankment and stormwater systems, curb and gutter installations, sidewalk construction, and landscaping were integral parts of the project. 

Historical Significance 

Built in 1939, the original Treasure Island Causeway bascule bridge, operated as a toll bridge for 76 years. Its attractive Art Deco design made it a notable landmark. The replacement project not only preserved the aesthetic appeal of the original bridge but also incorporated modern advancements to meet contemporary standards and demands. 

Award-Winning Excellence 

The project won the FTBA/FDOT Major Bridge award for Best in Construction in 2007, and was ranked #7 by Roads and Bridges Magazine’s Top 10 Bridges for the same year. These accolades highlight the exceptional quality and innovative approach taken in the bridge’s construction. 

Community and Environmental Impact 

Constructed using barges to minimize environmental impact, the project demonstrated a commitment to preserving the natural beauty of Boca Ciega Bay. The bridge’s construction was a collaborative effort, showcasing a strong camaraderie between the designer, contractor, and owner, which was crucial in overcoming the challenges faced during the project. 

A History of Manufacturing at American Bridge Company
A History of Manufacturing at American Bridge Company 960 686 Southland Holdings

The roots of American Bridge Company trace back to a merger orchestrated by J.P. Morgan in 1900, which brought together 28 steel companies. By April 1, 1901, American Bridge had become a subsidiary of the United States Steel Company, following another move by Morgan, and was formally incorporated in Delaware. Post-merger, the company embarked on a comprehensive program aimed at both constructing and modernizing its facilities. This endeavor entailed shutting down some plants while upgrading others. Moreover, a new fabricating and manufacturing facility was built in southwestern Pennsylvania, completed in 1903, which became the largest of its kind worldwide. This facility also birthed a surrounding town, eventually named Ambridge, combining “American” and “Bridge.” 

With substantial resources at its disposal, American Bridge emerged as a pioneer in fabricating and erecting various complex structures. It spearheaded the utilization of steel as a construction material, innovating fabrication and construction methods that enabled widespread use in buildings, bridges, vessels, and other applications. The town and the steel industry reached their zenith in the early 1940s, redirecting efforts to support the war. American Bridge, for instance, transitioned from bridge construction to building LST ships for the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard. 

The impact of American Bridge’s legacy is evident today across the nation, from iconic landmarks like the Oakland Bay Bridge in San Francisco to the historic Brooklyn Bridge in New York. The company’s influence extended far beyond American borders, undertaking projects both nationally and internationally. 

1900 to 1930

In 1915, the Ambridge Plant fabricated the Fair-Body portion of the hulls of eight sea-going tankers for the Chester Shipbuilding Company of Chester, Pennsylvania. This was the first time that a bridge and structural steel fabricating shop had used bridge-shop methods in the fabrication of hull steel for seagoing vessels as against the usual “cut and fit” methods prior to that time. 

American Bridge completed the Hell Gate Arch Bridge in 1916. At the time of construction, it was the longest arch bridge in the world, and is still one of the heaviest. 

Other notable projects in this decade include the Kentucky River High Bridge in Jessamine County, Kentucky; 81 railroad bridges for the Philippines Railroad System; the Atbara River Bridge in Sudan; the Manchester Bridge in Pittsburgh; six movable bridges for the Panama Canal Authority (used as emergency dams); the Columbia River Bridge at Vancouver, WA (now carrying I-5); the Union Pacific Railroad bridge over the Missouri River at Omaha, and the Metropolis railroad bridge over the Ohio River in Illinois, now owned by Canadian National Railway. 

Between 1926 and 1928, American Bridge erected and fabricated the well-known Roberto Clemente Bridge (6th Street), Andy Warhol Bridge (7th Street), and Rachel Carson Bridge (9th Street) in Downtown Pittsburgh. Also known as “The Three Sisters,” American Bridge used an innovative approach to turn the eyebar catenary/deck girder system temporarily into a truss by adding a diagonal to enable erection by balance cantilever and avoiding falsework in the river. These nearly identical, self-anchored, eye-bar suspension bridges are familiar landmarks when overlooking the Pittsburgh skyline. 

In 1929, American Bridge began airspinning cable with the construction of the Mid-Hudson Bridge in Poughkeepsie, NY. American Bridge fabricated and erected the towers, stiffening truss, cables, and roadway deck for this suspension bridge, requiring 13,275 tons of structural steel and 2,200 tons of cable. This began a long history of suspension bridge cable erection for American Bridge that continues to this day. To date, American Bridge has airspun well over half a million miles of suspension cable. 

1930 to 1940

By 1938, American Bridge had furnished and erected bridges in 69 foreign countries and overseas US territories. American Bridge was involved in the fabrication and erection of the Empire State Building, an 86-story office building that was the tallest in the world when completed in 1930. 
 
American Bridge completed the Bayonne Bridge in 1931, the longest arch superstructure in the world at the time. Soon after, American Bridge was chosen as the General Contractor for the East and West Bay portions of the Original San Francisco-Oakland Bridge. The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Project was completed in November 1936. That same year, the Virginia Bridge & Iron Company of Roanoke, Virginia, operating plants in Roanoke, Memphis, and Birmingham were acquired by American Bridge.

1940 to 1950

From 1941-1945, 100% of American Bridge’s capacity was utilized for National Defense projects. American Bridge manufactured 199 LST’s as well as four Aviation Repair Vessels, major components for 11 Essex Class Aircraft Carriers, one Super-aircraft Carrier, and 31 Auxiliary Converted Aircraft Carriers, 77 C Type Cargo Ships, four Tankers, 20 Cargo Lighters, and 348 Knock-down Barges. 

Other war related projects included the construction of a grassroots steelmaking facility in Geneva, Utah; major Aluminum manufacturing facilities in Tennessee, and steel mill expansions in Pittsburgh. American Bridge also built militarily strategic bridges including the Harry Truman vertical lift rail bridge in Kansas City; the Terminal Island rail bridge in Long Beach; and the Liard River Suspension Bridge on the Alaska Highway in British Columbia – all still in use today. 

 

1950 to 1960

American Bridge was prime superstructure contractor for the original Tappan Zee Bridge crossing the Hudson River above New York City. Although initial plans for the bridge were developed in the 1920s, construction did not commence until March of 1952.  Construction was completed in 1955. 

In 1957, American Bridge fabricated and erected the entire 47 span superstructure for the Straits of Mackinac Bridge. The 18,343-foot-long bridge remains one of the longest total suspended spans in the world. It was elected to be a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark on August 12, 2010, by the American Society of Civil Engineers. 

1960 to 1970

In this decade, American Bridge constructed Launch complexes 40-41 at Kennedy Space Center; the Norad Combat Operations Center in Colorado Springs; over 600 Minuteman Missile sites throughout Wyoming, Missouri, North Dakota, and Montana, and the Space Propulsion Facility at NASA Lewis Research Center in Sandusky, Ohio. The company continues to be active in this field today, with more recent projects including the Aeropropulsion Systems Test Facility at Tullahoma, Tennessee, numerous launch and processing facilities at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, and Complex 17B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. 

American Bridge has had a long history with the US Space Program; constructing wind tunnels, lab buildings, launch complexes, and rocket assembly buildings. In 1964, American Bridge completed the superstructure for the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center. At 3.7 million cubic meters, this building remains one of the largest in the world. 

In 1964, American Bridge fabricated and erected the Chicago Civic Center Building in Chicago, Illinois. The 31 story office building features COR-TEN steel which is weathering steel designed to form a rust-like appearance and eliminate the need for painting. 

Three years later, AB fabricated and erected Chicago’s Picasso, a 50-foot-high sculpture to the design of Pablo Picasso. Located in the Plaza at the Chicago Civic Center, this special structure has a total weight of 162 tons. 

1970 to 1980

American Bridge started building the William Preston Lane, Jr. Chesapeake Bay Bridge in 1970 and finished it in just three years. The bridge has 32 spans and is 14,500 feet long. It includes a main span suspension bridge that’s 1,600 feet long. American Bridge made the main suspension cables using prefabricated wires in Philadelphia. 

In 1973, American Bridge worked on the Sears Tower in Chicago (now called the Willis Tower), fabricating and putting up 78,000 tons of steel. It’s still one of the tallest buildings in the U.S. 

That same year, American Bridge began building the New River Gorge Bridge in West Virginia. It’s the longest deck arch bridgein the western hemisphere, with a length of 1,700 feet from end to end and 3,030 feet overall. The bridge sits about 900 feet above the New River, making it one of the highest in the world. American Bridge faced challenges like designing a cableway to lift the arch segments, each weighing 100 tons, and creating a tieback system to support the unfinished arch arms, with a capacity of 50,250 kips. 

1980 to 2000

In partnership with Morrison Knudsen Corp, American Bridge served as the main contractor for two major projects. First, they constructed a 5.3-mile monorail connecting the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT theme parks. They built precast concrete beams and piers, installed steel piles, poured concrete foundations, assembled the monorail track, and powered it. The monorail includes both double and single beamways. 

Additionally, in collaboration with Morrison Knudsen Corp and Pascen Construction, American Bridge oversaw the construction of the all-concrete, 8,858-foot Sunshine Skyway high-level bridge in Tampa, Florida. This bridge, completed in 1986, used innovative methods like balanced cantilever and overhead gantry cranes. It was erected over an active ocean navigation channel and under challenging ocean conditions. American Bridge also constructed the Tagus River Suspension Bridge rail deck addition in Lisbon, Portugal, a groundbreaking project involving the installation of new main cables on a busy bridge. This project set efficiency records in airspinning techniques. 

In June 1996, American Bridge began work on a private island named Gorda Cay. This remote location, lacking infrastructure and even basic facilities, presented numerous logistical challenges, including transportation, housing, permits, and adverse weather conditions. Despite these hurdles, American Bridge successfully completed the project. 

2000 to 2010

In 2002, American Bridge finished the Lions Gate Bridge Rehabilitation, which started in 1998. They faced a big challenge: replacing the whole top part of the bridge while keeping it open during the day. To do this, they came up with a special link structure and used an overhead gantry to move parts at night. They also made sure the weight on the cables stayed even and figured out how to change the cables and other parts. 

They also rebuilt the Stanley Park Causeway and upgraded the north approach to the bridge to withstand earthquakes. They had to work closely with the Port of Vancouver because the bridge is over a busy waterway. 

During this time, American Bridge built the biggest movable bridge, the Woodrow Wilson Bascule. It has eight parts and was started in 2003 and finished in 2008. American Bridge did all the mechanical work themselves. 

They also worked on other big projects in the 2000s, like the Philadelphia Naval Lift Bridge, the Florida Avenue Lift Bridge in New Orleans, the Cumberland Lake truss bridge in Kentucky, and they fixed up the RFK Triborough and Macombs Dam bridges in New York City. 

2010 to 2020

American Bridge was part of a joint venture that worked on the Queensferry Crossing project in Edinburgh, Scotland. This involved improving 9km of divided motorway, including building a 2,600m bridge over the Firth of Forth. The bridge has three towers and two long spans over water channels. It’s made of a mix of steel and concrete, and a special system of stays supports it. The team created six special gantries to help build the bridge. They used three big circular caissons to support the bridge’s foundations, going down 40m to reach solid rock. They also built the approach viaducts in two different ways. 

In 2014, the American Bridge/Fluor Joint Venture finished the San Francisco/Oakland Bay Bridge Superstructure project. They had to build a temporary bridge to hold up the main bridge until they could put the cables in place. They also made a big crane to lift heavy parts and developed ways to move and position them. They had to come up with special methods to handle the cables and transfer the weight of the bridge onto them. 

Also in 2014, American Bridge completed the world’s biggest observation wheel in Las Vegas, Nevada. This involved creating lots of new methods and equipment, like a system to support and move the wheel’s rim, a tower to support the wheel while it was being built, and a way to rotate the wheel as it was being assembled. They also had to figure out how to put the cabins on the wheel and handle other details. This project, like many others by American Bridge, showcased their ability to combine strong engineering with skilled ironworkers and experienced supervision. 

Schoharie Reservoir Outlet Project – Featured Archive
Schoharie Reservoir Outlet Project – Featured Archive 1024 683 Southland Holdings

Before any soil is excavated, the groundwork for a successful tunneling project is laid. This holds true for the Schoharie Reservoir Low Level Outlet (LLO) microtunneling project, situated in Gilboa, New York.

According to Project Manager John Arciszewski, meticulous planning was paramount for this undertaking. While microtunneling itself isn’t exceptionally daunting, Arciszewski pointed out that the 9.5-foot diameter Microtunnel Boring Machine (MTBM), and the depth of the shaft, reaching 160 feet, presented unique hurdles.

“Problem-solving and figuring out how to overcome challenges are some of the best parts of the job,” Arciszewski said.

Managed by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP), the Gilboa Dam controls Schoharie Creek to form the Schoharie Reservoir, a crucial water source supplying 15% of New York City’s water. Awarded in 2015 to a joint venture between Southland Holdings’ companies, Southland Contracting, Inc., and Oscar Renda Contracting, Inc., the $142.6 million project aimed to construct an outlet facilitating water regulation, maintenance, emergency response, and habitat enhancement downstream.

The previous LLO had been inactive since the 1960s due to sediment blockage at the inlet.

“Critical infrastructure plays a vital role in our daily life ,whether we realize it or not,” said Southland Holdings Principal Tim Winn. “Completing the Schoharie Reservoir Low Level Outlet not only improves the function of the dam, but continues providing drinking water to millions of residents of New York”.

Tunneling Triumph

Excavation for this project encompassed both challenging terrains: hard fractured rock and soft ground with cobbles. The primary tasks involved laying down 2,210 linear feet of nine-foot ID permalock casing through microtunneling, alongside the excavation of a 40-foot-diameter by 187-foot-deep gate shaft using drill and blast methods.

The tunneling efforts were segmented into a land leg and a water leg. The land leg spanned 1,225 feet, with a portion excavated using sequential excavation methods near the portal. On the other hand, the water leg extended 950 feet and was excavated by the Microtunnel Boring Machine (MTBM) through mixed terrain: starting in rock, transitioning through till, traversing lake bottom sediments, and concluding in tremied low-strength concrete at the approach to the intake structure.

A notable milestone in July 2019 was the wet retrieval of the MTBM from the reservoir bottom by Southland Contracting crew members, marking another significant achievement for the project.

“We were uplifted by the overall success achieved per our plan.” said Arciszewski. “It was definitely gratifying for everyone involved.”

NYCDEP officials were also happy with the progress.

“The completed excavation and retrieval of this tunneling machine are major milestones in our work at the Schoharie Reservoir,” NYCDEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza said in a released statement. “The net release works and upgrades to our intake structure at the reservoir will provide DEP with more operational flexibility to send the best-quality drinking water to New York City, and support the ecological health of the Schoharie Creek.”

Both hydraulic and mechanical dredging methods were employed to excavate approximately 12,000 cubic yards of material from the reservoir bottom. A 35-foot-diameter cofferdam was installed at the reservoir bottom to facilitate the retrieval of the MTBM, and establish the underwater connection for the intake. Approximately 7,000 cubic yards of tremie concrete were utilized to secure the intake structure, following which, the MTBM was meticulously lifted from 160 feet below the water’s surface.

The MTBM, a pioneering creation by Herrenknecht, a German construction equipment manufacturer, was equipped with explosion-proof (Class I, Division II) electrical components, and tunnel support accessories designed for operation in “gassy” environments.

It also was given the name “Miss Diane” by Arciszewski in memory of his sister, who passed away in 2014.

“The name had a double meaning for me,” he explains. “Traditionally, a TBM is named after a girl for good luck. So, ‘Miss Diane’ was after my sister, but I also miss Diane.”

Unearthing History

As the project is wrapped up, the crew remembered the alluring New York scenery fondly.

“The area up here is incredibly beautiful,” said Arciszewski. “when you’re driving to the job site, you have a beautiful mountain view and beautiful trees. It is a great location. Everyone out here, especially longtime Southland employees, can tell you that this is a great part of the country.”

The are surrounding the Schoharie Reservoir in upstate New York has been a place locals have called home since before the United States was formed. The Gilboa settlement was established around 1760 – 16 years prior to the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

The community officially became a township in the Schoharie Creek Valley in 1848. A cotton mill within the community played an important role in the town’s early economy, but was destroyed by a flood in 1869. That natural disaster also uncovered fossil remnants of one of the world’s oldest forests, discovered by local Church minister and naturalist Samuel Lockwood.

Construction of the Gilboa dam started in the early 1920s, ending six years later. During that time, the original settlement of Gilboa was razed, and the new settlement moved north, so Schoharie Creek could be dammed to form the reservoir. Traces of the original community can be seen within the reservoir during a drought. Several hundred sections of fossilized trees were found at three sites around the old village of Gilboa. These artifacts range from 12-inches to more than three-feet in diameter. While the Gilboa Dam’s construction was underway, crews found additional fossils in a nearby quarry while they were harvesting stones for the dam. One of the quarries was excavated again in 2010 to prepare for the dam’s rehabilitation. This gave paleontologists a new opportunity to study the forest floor from millions of years ago, as well as the ability to discover additional species. Experts determined that this prehistoric forest was an intricate system of trees, smaller fern-like plants, and climbing vines. Research on the Gilboa fossils and similar finds around the world, continues to uncover additional information about some the Earth’s earliest planned communities.

Southland Contracting crew members helped transport and place one of the fossils-which weighs several hundred pounds- at the nearby Gilboa-Conesville Central School.

“As a young Gilboa student, I never really understood the unique fossils that we have here in Gilboa,” said Superintendent Ruth Reeve. “We learned about them, but reading about the and actually being up close to one are different things. I hope that by having a fossil here on school grounds our students will make the connection between what they learn in the classroom and seeing the fossil up close.”

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