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Train on Portage Bridge

Probably 1852-1875
Origin: America, Mid-Atlantic, New York (possibly)
Overall: 33 x 42in. (83.8 x 106.7cm) Framed: 37 3/4 x 47 1/2 x 2 3/4in. (95.9 x 120.7cm, 2 3/4in.)
Oil on Canvas
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1958.102.5
Oil landscape painting of a locomotive engine and coal tender pulling five yellow passenger cars from left to right across a high wooden trestle bridge over a river with rapids and waterfall. The tall trestles of the bridge rise from brick pilings and create a honeycomb pattern across the center of the canvas. Several pines are visible on the high rocky hill to the left, and tall pine forest on the right. A tiny building is visible to left of the bridge, and man and woman can be seen walking on bank to left. Below them are a set of stairs leading down to the water. There is a large path on right bank of the river on which a man and his family walk.
Label:In August 1852, the Erie Railroad Company built the wooden trestle bridge depicted here to span the Genesee River between the towns of Portage and Castile, New York, some fifty miles from Rochester. Its 800-foot length and 235-foot height led to claims that is was the largest bridge on earth.

Numerous images of the bridge appeared in several popular magazines throughout the 1870s, and this painting was undoubtedly based on one of these printed illustrations. Portage Bridge burned on May 6, 1875, after twenty-three years of service and was replaced by an iron span.
Provenance:J. Stuart Halladay and Herrell George Thomas, Sheffield, Mass. Halladay died in 1951, leaving his interest in their jointly-owned collection to his partner, Thomas. Thomas died in 1957, leaving his estate to his sister, Mrs. Albert N. Petterson, who was AARFAC's vendor.