At first glance this might appear to be some strange thing that someone pieced together from a bunch of rods and railroad rails that they had scrounged around for. This 1877 bowstring truss bridge was indeed built using railroad rails, but it was a genuine attempt by Oliver Avery, Jr. and Caleb Bartholomew to design a bridge that was easy to construct, was cost-effective, and was durable. The end result was a patent to which this bridge which built according to. The design features the use of railroad rails for top chord and other features on the bridge, as well as simple rods and bolts. Many parts are formed by simply bending them, rather than using more advanced techniques like forge-welding or rivets. Rails were simply bent to form outriggers, and rods were bent to form eye bars. The bridge is deceptively simple and primitive in appearance, leading some observers to dismiss the bridge as something some engineer designed on his lunch break, but the truth is this was a genuine attempt to design the better bridge, which an emphasis on simplicity. The bridge's trusses have a height of 7.25 Feet (2.2 Meters).
The patented design of this bridge went on to inspire a second related patent. There was also two patents (first patent) (second patent) for bridge piers that were made by the same group of individuals.
Be sure to review the HABS HAER page for this bridge for a more detailed history and technical drawings.
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