Dumbarton Bridge (Buffalo Bridge)

The Buffalo Bridge is a sandstone and reinforced concrete structure which crosses Rock Creek Valley at Q Street.

The bridge constructed in 1912-15 is 261 feet long, 50 feet wide, and 65 feet high.This curving roadway is carried by five round arches. These arches are small enough to allow the curve, but large enough to give a massive, impressive appearance.

Their proportions were influenced by the proportions of arches of Roman aqueducts. The central arch has the largest span and the others decrease one foot per arch as they approach the abutments. The shadows cast by these corbel arches are a major design feature of the bridge. The bridge is constructed of sandstone from Kingswood, West Virginia, and reinforced concrete made from sands and gravels which yield a color similar to the sandstone. In 1915 the color was said to be "a rich, reddish, warm buff."

Some of the bridge's decorative features have American sources. The most obvious of these are the approximately eight foot high bronze buffaloes which stand on pedestals flanking the east and west entrances of the bridge. The pairs of standing bison face each other. They were sculpted by Proctor. Another interesting decorative feature are the corbels, these corbels are stylized heads modeled on a life mask of Kicking Bear, an American Indian chief.

DC Inventory: November 8, 1964
National Register: July 16, 1973
DC ownership

Images

Map

Q Street NW, over Rock Creek Park