PA State Capitol & Walnut St. Bridge

PA State Capitol Complex & Walnut Street Bridge
Harrisburg/Wormleysburg, Pennsylvania


Several months ago, I stumbled upon PostMuse’s “Orphaned Postcard Project” and was immediately enamored with the idea.
> Orphaned Postcard Project

So what is the “Orphaned Postcard Project”? Essentially, PostMuse has an extensive collection of unwritten postcards from various locations around the world. To give more interest to her collection, she created a database of her cards and she offers the opportunity for people who live in the postcard subject’s location (or have some sort of connection to it) to request the postcard. When it arrives, the recipient writes a message and sends it back to her. (Holy Run-On Sentence, Batman!) Visit her Project Page and her FAQ for details and better sentence construction 🙂

More Of A Connection Than I Thought There Would Be
I requested two cards from PostMuse. The first was a Pennsylvania State Capitol Complex card. Since I live just minutes away on the West Shore, this one was perfect for me. When the postcard arrived, I had even more of a connection to it than just geographic proximity. If you look at the inset image in the bottom left corner of the postcard (see image below) you can see a truss bridge with lights strung across it. (On a side note, that image was artistically manipulated —  that view with the capitol in the background would be impossible to achieve). It’s the Walnut Street bridge, which originally ran from Harrisburg (East Shore) – to City Island – to Wormleysburg (on the West Shore).

Back in 1996, my first apartment (living by myself, at least) was a block or so away from the end of the Walnut Street Bridge on the Wormleysburg side. To make matters worse, I had the basement apartment. I always called it my “Laverne & Shirley” pad because of the steps leading down to it.

In early January, the area had nearly 3 feet of snow on the ground. On the 19th, the temperature rose to a freakish 56F. The next day, most of the ice and snow on the Susquehanna River melted and was washed downstream — creating massive ice jams under several of Harrisburg’s bridges. Later that same day, the river crested seven feet above flood stage damaging over 4,000 buildings in Harrisburg and Wormleysburg. The ice floes lifted the western portion of the Walnut Street Bridge off of its foundations and swept some of the trusses downriver. The eastern portion is still in use for foot traffic from Harrisburg’s Front Street to City Island.

In just hours, I lost everything I owned. The ice-cold flood waters were well above my ceiling. For years, I have cursed that bridge every time I pass it. Today, oddly enough, for the first time in over a decade … I came to peace with the Walnut Street Bridge. I even felt a little sorry for it.

Now that I’ve blabbed about the bridge, it appears I’m giving the Pennsylvania Capitol Complex short shrift. I’ll let President Teddy Roosevelt step in to “guest blog” for me:

At the dedication of the Capitol Building in 1906, President Teddy Roosevelt described this structure as “the handsomest building I ever saw”

 Walnut Street Bridge & Capitol Complex Pictures
(inspired by the postcard that I returned to PostMuse via snailmail this afternoon)

The Bridge To Nowhere …

PA Capitol Building (Third & State Street side)
The design on the postcard is the interior of the Capitol Dome

Walnut Street Profile (with sad post-9/11 blockage of the underground parking)

The East Wing

> Capitol Complex Visitor Guide

> Walnut Street Bridge on Wikipedia

5 thoughts on “PA State Capitol & Walnut St. Bridge

  1. I lived in New Cumberland at the time of the flood and minutes after the bridge broke the waters swept through my house and I lost most of my belongings. I remember it well. I see the picture on the post card is of the Capitol Building Rotunda, I know this view well too having worked in the Capitol Building for 25 years. I think the post card idea is great, I’m going to check out the site now.

    1. I share your pain … I long ago got over losing my household items … but I may never get over losing my photographs, and books etc.

      PostMuse is a really great site. I hope you enjoy it 🙂

      1. I too got over losing the non sentimental stuff, I was lucky enough to have saved my photos and records however I did lose my book collection that I had to start over again, that still pains me as well. I think we may be kindred souls. I found your site from the link on the Midtown Scholar Book Store and loved it immediately. I used to have a site called “From The Road” that was very similar to what you have but hosted on a server that the company folded on and I lost everything. Another sad moment, My dad used to tell me I had a “gas ass” because I always wanted to “GO” and I’ve not stopped my entire life, although at 47 I have begun to slow down a bit, lol. Was just to Mystic Pizza last weekend 🙂

  2. Wow, what a great post, Wendala. I can’t believe I didn’t see it when you first published it. I’m glad you pulled it out of the archives.

    I can’t believe that you and Patrick both lost all of your things. 🙁 Just terrible. Like you, the photos and those little bits of memory paper would just eat me up.

    Did you Shlameel, Shlamazzel before going inside each night?

    1. Hardly a few days go by that I don’t think of some sentimental item from high school or college that I wish I still had.

      Yes, I Shlameeled & Shlamazzeled down my steps quite a few times 🙂

      I had to to laugh when I saw “Wendala” my elementary school best friend’s father used to call me that all of the time.

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