Fundraising efforts underway to rebuild historic Wanakena Footbridge destroyed last winter
Tuesday, August 19, 2014 - 6:03 am

CRANBERRY LAKE – Several nonprofits from across the Adirondack region have partnered with the Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA) to raise $50,000 to help rebuild the historic Wanakena Footbridge destroyed last winter.

The Wanakena Historical Association has already raised nearly $38,000 toward the estimated $250,000 it will need to replace the footbridge.

ANCA is working to help the Clifton-Fine community rebuild the iconic bridge demolished in January when an ice jam on the Oswegatchie River let out and slammed into side of the suspension bridge. The impact splintered the wooden structure, submerging much of it.

To extend the campaign's reach, ANCA will use Adirondack Foundation's crowdfunding website, Adirondack Gives. The website has collectively raised more than $40,000 for projects and causes across the Adirondack region. The Wanakena Footbridge campaign can be found on the site at www.adirondackgives.org.

"Our communities need to look at innovative ways to bring investment to the assets that make our villages and towns both unique and sustainable,” said Mark Hall, town supervisor of the Town of Fine where Wanakena is located. We are excited about building on ANCA's success with the crowdfunding campaign to save North Country movie theaters to help preserve one of the most iconic bridges in our region."

Joining ANCA in the fundraising effort are Adirondack Foundation, Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH), and Traditional Arts in Upstate New York (TAUNY).

"AARCH is delighted to be part of the effort to rebuild the pedestrian footbridge in Wanakena," said Steven Engelhart, executive director at AARCH. "This bridge connects the settlement together and is a symbol of the community's history and its sprit of generosity and inclusiveness. It's impossible to imagine the community without it."

Said St. Lawrence County Administrator Karen St. Hilaire, "We applaud the partners who have joined forces to raise awareness and support for one of the popular places in the County for both visitors and residents. We will join this effort to help spread the word and then celebrate the rebuilding of this emblematic bridge."

"The Wanakena Footbridge is on our Register of Very Special Places because of the central role it has played in bringing generations of people together," said TAUNY executive director Jill Breit. "We are pleased to partner with these organizations to restore this cornerstone of Wanakena and the region."

Built in 1902 by the Rich Lumber Company, the footbridge provided pedestrian access to residential and commercial areas of Wanakena. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.

"We know how important this landmark is to Wanakena and its surrounding communities," said Cali Brooks, executive director of Adirondack Foundation. "Adirondack Gives is a great way for people from across the Adirondack region and beyond to contribute to the rebuilding of this historic footbridge."

Estimates put the full cost of construction at $250,000. Contributions to the Adirondack Gives effort are tax deductible and will serve as matching funds for grant proposals seeking the majority of reconstruction costs.

Checks may be sent to the Wanakena Historical Association Bridge Fund at PO Box 73, Wanakena, NY 13695 or to ANCA at 67 Main Street, Suite 201, Saranac Lake, NY 12983.

For more information about the crowdfunding campaign to rebuild the Wanakena Footbridge, contact Caitlin Wargo at ANCA: 518-891-6200 or cwargo@adirondack.org.

For more information about the Wanakena Footbridge and the reconstruction effort, contact Wanakena Historical Association president Marsha Smith at 848-2848 or adk.marsha@gmail.com.