Wyoming Valley Levee System
"It will save to the citizens tens of thousands of dollars that have heretofore been annually lost through interruption of communications by high water, and by removing provocation to profanity will make it much easier for sundry people to reach the pearly shore."
The Evening Leader
, 3 September 1888
Newfangled urban transportation and the need to cross above the highest flood waters brought a bridge to this location in 1888. The clickety-clack of the electric streetcar whisking people across the river on rails soon outpaced the clopping horse and buggy on the old wooden Market Street Bridge, just downstream. Innovation and entrepreneurship went hand in hand. Seeking to expand his streetcar company, Wilkes-Barre traction magnate John B. Reynolds wanted a bridge strong enough to carry his tracks and trolleys
. In 1888 he and other subscribers built the iron North Street Bridge, also known as the Pierce Street Bridge, and brought his trolleys to Kingston customers.
For the next 20 years, traffic ran alongside the trolley in two lanes, paying tolls
to Reynolds' Wilkes-Barre & Kingston Bridge Company. The tolls stopped in 1908 when the county (and later the state) assumed control of the bridge. Around that time, people crossing the bridge viewed the majestic Luzerne County Courthouse rising in Wilkes-Barre's
skyline. If heading toward Kingston, riders' eyes rested on the natural beauty of the riverside park donated by philanthropist Abram Nesbitt.
Tropical Storm Agnes claimed the North Street Bridge in June 1972. Though the electric streetcar had become a relic from the past, cars and trucks
depended on the crossing. A temporary structure opened in 1973 and four years later, the present concrete and steel deck bridge, renamed Veterans Memorial Bridge, was completed.
[Photo captions, from top to bottom, read]
· (inset) John B. Reynolds, Wilkes-Barre attorney, president of the insurance firm of Reynolds & Company, head of the Wilkes-Barre & West Side Railway Company and president of the Wilkes-Barre & Kingston Bridge Company, the corporation which financed the bridge.
· A Wilkes-Barre & West Side Railway Company trolley passing in front of Reynolds Wyoming Avenue home.
· Work progressing on the replacement bridge after Tropical Storm Agnes, 1973.
· View of the North Street Bridge from the Dorrance breaker, circa 1890. Note the covered Market Street Bridge in the background.
· The North Street Bridge with its four spans of thru trusses. [Illegible in photo] iron bridge between Wilkes-Barre and Kingston opened September 1888. Contractors; Joseph Handler of Wilkes-Barre [illegible in photo] and The King Iron Bridge Company of Cleveland, Ohio (superstructure).