Sunday, September 9, 2012


Note the old rails used as a border for the walkway
For years I've always noticed these interesting looking dock cranes in Wilmington, Delaware while passing by on I-95.  It's usually one of those, "I've got to get off and take photos of those things - next time".   It only took 20 years, but I finally got off the road on Saturday to photograph them.  We are down that way a lot and had other reasons to be in that area, but I had blocked the afternoon off for a little industrial archeology.  

More appropriate colors on this one, and nicely positioned with the boom hanging out over the river
The cranes were part of the Dravo Shipbuilding operation that I think closed in the 1960's.  Before Dravo took over the yard in 1928, it was a Bethlehem Shipbuilding yard.   Most of the structures were razed in the late 1990's to make way for a large "Riverfront" redevelopment project.   It's a mixed development project with, residential housing, retail, restaurants, museums, a baseball stadium,...etc...   The project looks to have mixed results, although the retail component, other than restaurants, looks to be struggling.   The thing I liked best, besides my crab, shrimp, and fish lunch,  was the 1.75mile "Riverwalk" created along the formerly industrial Christiana River.  Even better, the developers left in place about a quarter of a mile or so of the crane runway tracks, using the rails as borders for the brick and concrete walk.  Two of the former ship building cranes still sit in place on the rails, having been painted some gaudy colors, but preserved and repainted never the less.   There are two other cranes a bit further up the walk, but placed on short segments of rail.   In all there are four cranes - three "smaller" units, and a much taller and larger machine.  Additionally there is a Atlas 50 Tonner locomotive, that I assume was used in the shipyard, along the walk.   (And I don't mean Atlas as in the HO scale locomotive manufacturer, but rather the full sized manufacture that also built a lot of steel mill specific cars and locomotives.
The Big Mama
Atlas 50-Tonner
At the eastern end of the Riverwalk, the crane runway ends and you enter a nature preserve.  The walk curves and climbs a little and takes you onto this neat pedestrian bridge that ends at a tall bird watching building.  The bridge takes you over a rail line.  I wasn't looking at any birds but rather the two old swing bridges in the river and the steel fabrication yard across the river.   All in all, well done Wilmington.
Forget Birdwatching, a view of the bridges, from the bridge

1 comment:

Rob Wolcott said...

Great stuff as usual Jim! Love the progress on the coke works branch, as it is really coming along great. Also love the industrial and railfanning shots. The blue and yellow crane looks as if the boom can only handle a few tons. It looks so flimsy and weak!

Great work Jim. Love checking to see your progress as it gets my but in gear to work on my N scale mill.

Rob Wolcott