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 Huey P. Long bridge many Locals who travel it's span each day say it is Haunted!

Legend has grown up around the Huey P. Long bridge and the fact that allegedly several workers were entombed alive in the colossal cement pilings holding the bridge in place.

 


Huey P. Long Bridge

 

by J.R. Serpas bottom two photos by Randy Jackson
Haunted Highways and Byways

 

When it was being built in the years following the Great Depression, the Huey P. Long Bridge in Jefferson, Louisiana was ahead of it's time. A high-rise trestle bridge of it's kind had only been attempted one other time in the swampy environs of New Orleans -- this was the Mississippi River Bridge (now the Crescent City Connection).

As with any feat of modern engineering, it had it's challenges and it's set backs.

The Huey P. Long Bridge was designed by Ralph Modjeski. This Polish-born American bridge designer and builder, outstanding for the number, variety, and innovative character of his projects. He was the son of the actress Helena Modjeska (1840–1909). After study in Paris, he settled in the United States and from 1892 practiced as a consulting bridge engineer in Chicago. Among his best known bridges The Huey P. Long Bridge New Orleans.

In the history of bridges in the United States Ralph Modjeski's name will always be remembered. He was born Rudolf Modrzejewski in Krakow in the year 1861. Early in his American career, Modrzejewski changed his name to Ralph Modjeski. He found that Americans had great difficulty pronouncing, spelling, or remembering his complex Polish name. His mother, the famous Polish Shakespearian actress, Helena Modrzejewska, who brought her family to the United States in 1876, had the same problem. Upon the earnest advise of her friends she changed her name from Helena Modrzejewska to simply Madame Modjeska.

Ralph Modjeski's European education, in addition to languages and mathematics, included musical studies under Kazimierz Hofmann, son of the world renowned pianist, Joseph Hofmann. Curiously, during that same period Modjeski's fellow student, was the illustrious, Jan Ignacy Paderewski. Ralph Modjeski was an extremely proficient pianist; in seven lessons he had learned four of Kohler's etudes by heart and almost the entire sixth sonata by Mozart. If Ralph Modjeski had chosen a career in music instead of engineering the world might have gained a famous concert-pianist, but would have lost one of the finest bridge designers.

Engineering won and Modjeski completed his education in his chosen field at the Ecole des Ponte et Chaussees in Paris. He graduated in 1885 leading his class with a degree in Civil Engineering. With his mother, the famous Helena Modrzejewska,already in America, Ralph returned to the United States and began his engineering career in Chicago where he worked for seven years with one of the leading bridge builders of that time, George S. Morison.

In 1893, Modjeski decided to embark on private practice in the bridge design field. He obtained his first major project - the design and construction of a seven-span combined railway and highway bridge over the Mississippi River, at Rock Island, Illinois.

Later Modjeski developed a set of standard bridges designs for the Northern Pacific Railroad. From this point he rapidly progressed, designing an almost unbelievable number of this country's finest major bridges.

Frank M. Masters of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, was employed by Modjeski in 1904. Twenty years later in 1924 Modjeski and Masters formed a partnership. Today this firm continues to operate from offices in Harrisburg, New Orleans, Chicago, and Washington, DC.

Time does not permit listing the many bridges in which Modjeski and his partners were involved. It is also significant to note that Ralph Modjeski was often called upon as a consultant and adviser. After several disastrous failures in the construction of the worlds longest cantilever-truss rail bridge in Quebec, Canada, Ralph Modjeski was called upon and brought the project to a successful conclusion in 1918. Modjeski was also chairman of the board of consulting engineers in charge of the design and construction of the great eight mile long BAY BRIDGE in San Francisco, which was finished in 1937.

In Pennsylvania, Modjeski designed what at that time was the longest suspension bridge in the world - the present BEN FRANKLIN BRIDGE in Philadelphia. Excitement reigned in that city on the day President Calvin Coolidge, assisted by the Army corps of Engineers, opened the bridge across the Delaware River.

Only a few years later Modjeski designed the unusual, tied-arch Tacony-Palmyra Bridge further upstream on the Delaware. Some of Pennsylvania's most interesting bridges have been designed by Ralph Modjeski and his partners. Many of them won national awards for their artistry of design. Graceful lines, arches, and staunch utility have always characterized Modjeski's work. Almost all of the bridges that Modjeski and his partners designed are still in use.

Ralph Modjeski, was almost 80 years old when he died in 1940. And many have so said it is he that travels the country haunting many of the Bridges he built and designed.

The first train to cross the Public Belt Railroad's new Huey P. Long Bridge, December 16, 1935, was one of the Southern Pacific's largest freight engines. The opening of the bridge was celebrated with elaborate ceremonies, including a historical transportation pageant that preceded the trains over the bridge. The boy scouts dressed as Native Americans, colonial horsemen and mounted guards, a pioneer stage coach, a primitive locomotive, a "horseless carriage," and modern automobiles. Once the first train had crossed the span, an excursion train carrying nearly 1000 people left Union Station for a trip to Avondale and back. Regular train service on the bridge began on December 17,1935 and continues today.

Legend has grown up around the Huey P. Long bridge. Many say they have seen Ralph Modjeski ghost. They relate that he walks the entire span as if inspecting every inch of it. And the fact that allegedly several workers were entombed aliive in the colossal cement pilings holding the bridge in place. Trestle workers, too, were among the men who lost their lives in the effort to erect this homage to the late Louisiana Governor. Knocked from their high perches by misplaced rebar or rods, the trestle workers plummeted to their deaths in the muddy Mississippi River below.

Once it was complete, the new bridge was often used by hobos who took advantage of the new link that allowed them to cross the river with apparent ease. But all too often they could not make it across in time and were either downed by freight trains or knocked into the surging river by trucks or passenger cars. Even today the Huey P. Long Bridge has it's share of accidents.

It is said that some of these accidents are caused by modern commuters trying to avoid striking what appear to be pedestrians on the busy bridge.

Several commuters who had "near misses" in the recent past have claimed to have seen men in overalls walked abreast on the bridge, or someone climbing from over the side of the bridge and suddenly appearing in view. Swerving to avoid these "workers" modern day motorists end up in fender benders of their own. While boating enthusiasts in a sail boat or Princess Yacht may not see any pedestrian apparitions because they are passing underneath the bridge, they should still exercise caution when steering their vessels in the vicinity. Sail boats and Princess Yachts for sale can be big investments, and no owner wants to have a boating accident because they were startled by an apparition on the bridge.

Could these amorphous entities be the remnants of workers now entombed in the aging structure, or killed in the process of raising it? Many people insist this is the only explanation.

 

The 4.5 mile (7.5 km) Huey P. Long Bridge in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana carries four lanes of US 90 and a two-track railroad line over the Mississippi River. Huey P. Long was a former governor of Louisiana. The bridge is a favorite railfan location, and is the longest railroad bridge in the U.S. The bridge is owned by the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad (AAR reporting mark NOPB), which is owned by the city of New Orleans and managed by the Public Belt Railroad Commission. The bridge was opened in December 1935. It is hated by many drivers in the New Orleans area due to its narrow width—9-foot wide lanes with no shoulders.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huey_P._Long_Bridge

Satellite image from Google Local


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The Mississippi River roars beneath it. And Ghost are said to haunt its span.Legend has grown up around the Huey P. Long bridge and the fact that allegedly several workers were entombed aliive in the colossal cement pilings holding the bridge in place.
The Huey P. Long Bridge as it looks today. Since it's beginnings in the early 1930s it spands the Mighty Muddy Mississippi River. locals say it is very haunted.


Rudolf Modrzejewski, a.k.a. Ralph Modjeski, was almost 80 years old when he died in 1940.  Many locals and travelers alike say they have seen his ghost walking it's span stoping  only momentarily to inspect it or admire it's beauty. Then to just fade away.
The Huey P. Long Bridge was designed by Ralph Modjeski. This Polish-born American bridge designer and builder, outstanding for the number, variety, and innovative character of his projects. This photo from: TODAY IN SCIENCE HISTORY
© 1999 - 2004 by Today in Science History except where attributed to other sources


There have been stories told of workers falling and being being buried alive in the wet cement of the pilings. If there is truth to this story, no one Knows for certain.
A photo of the beautiful train and traffic Huey P. Long Bridge being built. This Photo Circa 1930s Jefferson Parish Louisiana Archives.

Several tourists and locals have seen strange ghostly figures walking it's span. Train enginers have seen ghost of hobos walking the tracks before them.

But all too often they could not make it across in time and were either downed by freight trains or knocked into the surging river by trucks or passenger cars

Trestle workers, too, were among the men who lost their lives in the effort to erect this homage to the late Louisiana Governor. Knocked from their high perches by misplaced rebar or rods the trestle workers plummeted  hundres of feet to their deaths in the muddy Mississippi River below.

It is said that some of these accidents are caused by modern commuters trying to avoid striking what appear to be pedestrians on the busy bridge. The bridge is posted No Pedestrians

Mayor deLesseps S. Morrison and others ride in style on the Public Belt tracks with the Huey P. in the background. (Photo from New Orleans Public Belt Railroad Series, Municipal Government Photograph Collection]

The Bridge continues to have it's ghost stories told over the years by enginers who say they saw a ghostly figure walking on the track before them.

Train Engineers have said to witness someone climbing from over the side of the bridge and suddenly appearing in view.

Many people in accidents say to  Bridge police and paramedics that they swerved to miss a person hanging on to the railing or walking the bridge.

Drivers in their cars have said to local Bridge Police that they had to swerve to avoid the"Ghostly workers" when explaining why they have wrecked on the bridge.

 

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