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Paper Mill Road Bridge

Paper Mill Road Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Bob Dover

Bridge Documented: November 2, 2013

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Key Facts

Phoenix: Baltimore County, Maryland: United States

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
361 Feet (110 Meters)
Structure Length
521 Feet (158.8 Meters)
Roadway Width
20 Feet (6.1 Meters)
1 Main Span(s) and 5 Approach Span(s)
NBI Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

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Information About Bridge Contributed By Bob Dover

Phoenix, Baltimore County, Maryland. A few miles east of Interstate 83, about 15 miles north of Baltimore and 20 miles south of the Maryland/Pennsylvania state line.

Rural, crosses reservoir surrounded by wooded hills.

Shawan Road/Hunt Valley exit from I-83. No parking available, and there is limited ability to park on the shoulder of Paper Mill Road, which has fairly heavy traffic. Even if you can pull over and risk the traffic to get to the end of the bridge, you cannot walk onto it.

Loch Raven Reservoir

Current Status:
Closed to traffic. It formerly was a one-lane bridge, steel grid deck, carrying traffic on Paper Mill Road, a narrow, winding two-lane road. Although you can walk up to the western end of the bridge, you cannot walk onto or around it, which is a shame, because it is gorgeous. The ends are blocked by steel grates. Also, there is no parking available, and the bridge is not on any trails. Given this lack of access, the presence of historical exhibit panels at the western end of the bridge is interesting, since it is not clear how people are supposed to get there to see them. There is construction equipment present, and it is possible that work is being done to connect the bridge to trails, and it will be accessible in the future. However, there are no nearby trails, and the shoulder of the road is too narrow to safely access by foot or bicycle.

A new bridge was built right next to it (within 25 feet) in 2001, and the old bridge was rehabilitated in 2007.

Plaque on truss over roadway is the Seal of the City of Baltimore, which built and owns the bridge. Interestingly, the bridge is not within the city limits, but crosses a reservoir built and owned by the city. The seal lists the date of 1797, which is the date for the founding of the City of Baltimore, not the date for the bridge. The bridge itself has no date plaque, but the historical exhibit panel installed at the western end of the bridge provides the date, as well as some construction information. The end truss of the bridge is beautifully decorated with a diagonal steel lattice, and the vertical girders on the sides of the end truss are capped with lovely lanterns.

Threats are unlikely, since the bridge was bypassed in 2001, and then rehabilitated for preservation purposes in 2007. However, even though the bridge has been preserved, no attempt has been made to make it accessible. The ends are blocked by unattractive grates, there is no parking available, and there are no hiking or bike trails that go over it. There is currently construction equipment staged at one end of the bridge. This may be staged only because it is a convenient place for a local project, but it is possible that work is going to be undertaken to make the bridge accessible.

HistoricBridges.org Discussion

This unique bridge was designed by Hershel Hethcote Allen of the J. E. Greiner Company. J. E. stands for John Edwin Greiner, a well-known bridge engineer. This bridge is noted for its ornamental portal bracing and rare through arch design. It has been bypassed and abandoned, but was rehabilitated before abandonment, so it remains in great condition and is a historic landmark. A similarly ornamented bridge, but with a truss design, remains open to traffic on Warren Road.

Even though it isn't in the city of Baltimore, the city is noted on the portal bracing because this bridge was built as part of the reservoir created for the city.


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