Frozen in Time: The Historic American Engineering Record

In 1985, the year Admiral Harold Shear retired, the State Pier was added to the Historic American Engineering Record. Established by the National Park Service, the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Library of Congress, the HAER documents exemplary sites and structures for posterity. Among its subjects: bridges, ships, railroads, factories, canals, parkways and roads - and piers. 

These HAER photographs capture the Pier at a fleeting moment of its existence as a place for conventional shipping operations. The Navy was leasing the north side and nearby moorings, so the absence of the submarine tender U.S.S. Fulton indicates that it was undergoing maintenance or had been temporarily relocated. 

The large freighter on the south side shows up in five images, and a leafy remnant of the East New London neighborhood is still in place, later to disappear altogether.

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Excerpts from the application: 

The State Pier is part of a 30 acre complex owned by the State of Connecticut. The major component is the pier itself, a granite-lined, earth filled structure with aprons on pilings at either side for unloading cargo….Depressed tracks run down the center of the building to facilitate loading and unloading of railroad cars….Windows are fixed with hexagonal wire mesh. Small casement windows are provided in the center of the fixed glass for ventilation. Interior elevators transfer cargo to upper floors…One story sheds on either side of the main building provide additional storage space.” 

The builder is noted as New London’s T. A. Scott and Company.

Below: Tracks approaching the warehouse; interior views.

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A concise descriptive text accompanies the photographs, which are housed in the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. 

"The Connecticut State Pier is significant as a typical example of early 20th-century pier engineering and as one of the earliest attempts by the state government to encourage economic development by means of a major public improvement. It was built with the hope that substantial shipping would result from the Pier's access to the Central Vermont Railroad, which connected with major lines in the Midwest and Canada. While only a modest success economically, the pier provided an important port facility to the U.S. Navy in both world wars."

Below: More interior views and a bollard:

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Frozen in Time: The Historic American Engineering Record