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Parkton Stone Arch Bridge

Frederick Road Bridge

Parkton Stone Arch Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Bob Dover

Bridge Documented: November 2, 2013

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Frederick Road (MD-463) Over Little Falls
Location
Parkton: Baltimore County, Maryland: United States
Structure Type
Stone Segmental Deck Arch, Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1809 By Builder/Contractor: John Small, George Small,Michael Gardner, and Jonathan Jessup and Engineer/Design: John Davis

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
18 Feet (5.5 Meters)
Structure Length
62 Feet (18.9 Meters)
Roadway Width
27 Feet (8.23 Meters)
Spans
2 Main Span(s)
NBI Number
100000030105010

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

View Archived National Bridge Inventory Report - Has Additional Details and Evaluation

View The Historic Bridge Inventory Report For This Bridge

Information About Bridge Contributed By Bob Dover

Date:
1809

Location:
Parkton, Baltimore County, Maryland. A few miles east of Interstate 83, about 35 miles north of Baltimore and 7 miles south of the Maryland/Pennsylvania state line. The bridge is located where Old York Road crossed Little Falls in the center of Parkton.

Setting:
Rural, in woods just outside boundary of Gunpowder Falls State Park, next to a few houses.

Current Status:
The bridge still carries traffic, but the amount of traffic is very limited. In the mid-1800s, the Northern Central Railroad (NCRR) between Baltimore and York was built, and passed directly through the center of Parkton a few hundred feet west of the bridge. The bridge and the center of Parkton were then bypassed in 1929 with a newer, higher bridge carrying York Road (Maryland Route 45) over the creek a few hundred feet downstream of the Stone Arch. In the 1970s, the NCRR was closed. In the early 1990s, the railroad right-of-way was incorporated into Gunpowder Falls State Park, and was turned into a bicycle rail trail (once called the NCRR Trail, now called the Torrey C. Brown Trail). Old York Road was closed on either side of the rail trail, leaving the bridge on a short dead end road, about a quarter mile long, between York Road and the rail trail. There are two houses and a small parking lot (space for about 10 cars) for the rail trail on this dead end stretch between the bridge and the trail. So although the bridge does not carry through-traffic, it does carry cars to the two houses and the parking lot. One of the two houses is very interesting it is in a 100-plus year old stone bank building, right at the end of the bridge.

Crosses:
There is some incorrect information about the name of the stream. It is a small branch of Gunpowder Falls called Little Falls. However, the "Historic Bridges of Maryland" by Dixie Legler and Carol M. Highsmith reports it to be "Little Gunpowder Falls". This is not correct, as Little Gunpowder Falls is a different stream several miles away.

Access:
Middletown Road exit from I-83. Parking available in small lot for the rail trail a short walk from the bridge.

Construction/Description:
The bridge is a small stone arch bridge, consisting of two arches. The length of the bridge is about 50 feet, the deck is only about 10 feet above creek level, and the bridge is only about 15 feet wide (one lane of traffic). The bridge is made of mostly unshaped local stone, although the arches are outlined with flat stones placed radially around the arch.

Decorations/Plaques:
The Parkton Stone Arch is listed in some documents as the oldest bridge in the state of Maryland, dating from 1809. Interestingly, the bridge has no date plaque or historical marker associated with it, even though many other historical bridges in Maryland do. This is a shame, since the bridge is visible from the rail trail which is used by hundreds of people, and is just a few hundred feet away. The bridge also has no decorative elements, other than the outline of the arch using stone of different orientation.

Threats:
None known. Traffic has been bypassed around the bridge on a newer road and different bridge since the 1920s, so it is unlikely that the bridge will ever need to be replaced to support traffic load. Even though there is no documentation at the bridge itself, the status of the bridge as the oldest bridge in the state is well-documented in several state publications. Therefore, there is little risk of the bridge being removed accidentally without an understanding of its significance.

HistoricBridges.org Discussion

Engineer is assumed, per Historic Bridge Inventory. Also assumed to be the oldest stone arch bridge in the state. The bridge appears to have been altered with gunnite, shotcrete, or excessive mortar by previous repairs. This has visually obscured the stone to some extent. The bridge is highly significant in the state context as the oldest bridge of its kind and perhaps of any kind in the state. It is also noteworthy since it was built for the Baltimore and York-town Turnpike.

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Photo Galleries and Videos: Parkton Stone Arch Bridge

 
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Maps and Links: Parkton Stone Arch Bridge

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