Lake Champlain Bridge: Elegant, historic, destroyed

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Just as the Champlain Bridge was being recognized for its unique historic value, its trusses and arches were packed with dynamite and blown into legend.

Listed in February 2009 on the National Register of Historic Places, the bridge was being pushed for an even more exalted designation - as a National Historic Engineering Landmark - when in the fall of last year state inspectors found cracks in the concrete piers that led them to declare the bridge unsafe and on Oct. 16 shut it down.

Within a month, on a schedule one preservationist called "vastly accelerated," state officials decided the bridge was too dangerous to rehabilitate and ordered it destroyed.

On Dec. 28, the Champlain Bridge, the first of its kind in the country and a model for many bridges that followed, tumbled into Lake Champlain with an explosive roar that echoed across the ice.

Its supporting structure, the struts and chords, seemed to burst into dust; its steel decks tilted and slid into the lake....

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