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Bridges crossed the gorge in old days

Dibbles Dabbles

September 28, 2011
By (the late) Billie Dibble, Former Westfield Historian, 1975-2006
First published February 23, 1984:

If you have looked at an old map of Chautauqua County lately, perhaps you noticed that a number of roads are shown to cross Chautauqua Gorge. Then you many have observed that newer maps show these roads leading to a spot near the gorge and another road starting on the other side. Bridges that at one time spanned the creek are no longer in existence. Venturesome individuals who hike the rugged gorge know the spots where the old bridges were located.

Last week Gladys Peters brought me two photographs that Bill Golden who lived on Ogden Road had given to her late husband, Howard Peters. On the back of each picture Howard had recorded the stories told to him by Mr. Golden. One was dated 1918 and was the bridge over Barry Gulf showing a car on the bridge. The car belonged to Westfielder Tom Usborne and was a 1918 model-T Ford. Tom could not make the east hill this day and was sitting in his car waiting for Ruth Golden’s father to come with a team of horses and pull him up the hill. Ruth Golden took the picture from the east bank above her folks’ home.

The other photo was dated 1920 and was of the bridge at Taylor Gulf. (Was that Barry Gulf by another name?) The Goldens lived at the top of Taylor gulf on the west side. Bill at one time worked in Mayville and used to drive to work over this bridge.

Tom Usborne, who was stranded on the bridge in 1918 when horses were more dependable than cars, was chairman of the Board of Public Utilities in Westfield for many years. In fact he served the village in some public capacity for nearly 60 years. He was an avid trombone player. Many Westfield residents will remember that he owned the Fay-Usborne feed and coal mill, having purchased the Fay-Stoolfer Mill in 1929.

While we are on the subject of bridges and while we are wondering how we are going to solve the problem of the Main Street viaduct being out of use for two years, I must share this little article which appeared in The Westfield Republican of Jan. 27, 1909, “LONG WALK – People living on the west side of the creek were greatly put out last Friday morning by the temporary foot bridge becoming unsafe by swollen conditions of the creek and being compelled to cross on the partly planked viaduct or go a good half mile out of their way by the Rorig Bridge. The foreman in charge of the viaduct sopped people crossing for fear of an accident. Citizens took things in their own hands and boarded the trolley but refused to pay fare for the ride across the bridge.

“Village President Munson, Justice Powers and Justice Tennant contacted General Manager Calisch of the traction company and a trolley was sent to Westfield to carry residents back and forth over the viaduct until the planking was complete.”

DIBS AND DABS – I want to share with you excerpts from a letter from Martha Chapman in Holiday, Fla. Martha gets nostalgic about her old home town and shares her fond memories. She says she well remembers Jack Allen’s Barber Shop as her cousin, Gerald Mack, used to work there. She also recalls Mary Wiser’s Dry Goods Store where she worked in 1917 to 1920. Then she got married and started housekeeping on the second floor of the old Fenner Block on North Portage Street. Her husband, Edgar, worked for Bornan and Card Ford Garage. He and her sister used to go to Buffalo and drive cars back for the garage. She is making an album of articles about Westfield so her grand children and great-grandchildren can “see and read about me and all my friends back in the good old town I love so much.” Good to hear from you, Martha.

Marybelle Beigh is the current Public Historian for the Town and Village of Westfield. Her office is located at 3 East Main Street in Westfield, N.Y, 14787 — inside Parkview Ice Cream Parlor. Her scheduled office hours are Monday through Friday 9 to 11 a.m.; other hours by appointment.

Beigh can be reached at'> or by calling 326-2457 (office), 326-6171 (home) or 397-9254 (cell).

Article Photos

Photo courtesy The Westfield Republican
Bridge over Barry Gulf — This picture was taken by the late Ruth Golden. The car on the bridge is said to be Tom Usborne’s 1918 model-T Ford which couldn’t make the hill. Usborne is sitting in the car waiting for a team of horses to pull him up.



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