From weddings, to anniversaries and much more, the historic footbridge in Wanakena has certainly become an important landmark. But now, as our Elizabeth Jeneault tells us, the community must rally to save their beloved bridge as it's been badly damaged by an ice jam.
ST. LAWRENCE COUNTY, N.Y. -- This winter hasn't been easy on anyone and that's especially true for Wanakena. The hamlet's icon, its historic footbridge, was shredded by ice barreling down the Oswegatchie River.
"With the temperature changes going from 20 below to 40 or 50 above and rain the ice jam just let loose up river and all the ice came down and took the bridge out this time," said Wanakena Supervisor Mark Hall.
The 112-year-old bridge is close to many locals' hearts. Pam Lei-Maida recalls recreating a moment on that bridge for her parents who actually spent their honeymoon there.
"I took a picture of them just before we lost my dad, standing together on the bridge again, and it was just precious, but everybody could tell you those types of stories, those kind of memories are in everybody who comes here," said Wanakena Historical Society Member Pam Lei-Maida.
An icon the community isn't willing to lose, which is why Wanakena is planning a reconstruction project for the bridge.
"It’s going to take them some time to crunch up the numbers and determine what to do about the damage," explained Lei-Maida.
Whichever way they go with the project, one thing's for sure, they'll try to keep the footbridge looking as authentic as possible.
"We’re looking at if there is some lumber to salvage we’re thinking that we may be able to use bits and pieces of that," said Lei-Maida.
Word of the damage has spread like wildfire. The town eventually hopes to throw a few fundraisers and donations have also started to pour in.
"The response has been amazing it really shows the spirit of the community, the community is determined to have this bridge put back and look the way it did previously," said Hall.
Apart from reinforcing the structure and continuing with fundraising efforts, the town says its next step will be to put the reconstruction project out for bid.
If you're interested in making a donation, you can click the link below to access the Wanakena Historical Society's website: