This bridge is one of two known Post truss bridges in the country: both are in Worcester County: the other is the Ponakin Bridge. The Atherton Bridge is also significant as a bridge displaying Phoenix columns for diagonal members on the bridge. The Post truss is an unusual application of this rare form of built-up beam.
This bridge was the first iron bridge in Lancaster. Indeed, with an 1870 construction date, it is among the oldest metal bridges in the country.
The bridge retains excellent historic integrity, with no alterations noted aside from a single replaced column, remarkable considering its ancient age. However, structurally there are some signs that the bridge is in need of restoration. For example, a couple of the diagonal members have slipped out of its top chord connection, and are offset. HAER mentions that the northeast endpost went missing too.
HAER thoroughly documents the unusual design, history, and details of this bridge. Be sure to look to their documentation for a complete history of the bridge.
Given a relatively higher attention given to historic bridge preservation in Massachusetts (and several other northeastern USA states) than is seen in the country as a whole, one would seem to expect to see this extremely rare Post truss restored. However, this bridge has just been abandoned, which is obviously better than the demolition that this bridge might have received had it been located in another state, yet a bridge this rare deserves so much more than abandonment. This bridge should be either restored in place or relocated and restored for pedestrian use. Any restoration of the bridge should be undertaken with the greatest care to retain all original material possible, and any replaced material must be exactly replicated, right down to the rivets on the bridge.
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