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Sparks Road Bridge

Sparks Road Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Bob Dover

Bridge Documented: December 28, 2013

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Sparks Road Over Gunpowder Falls
Sparks: Baltimore County, Maryland: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1888 By Builder/Contractor: Wrought Iron Bridge Company of Canton, Ohio

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
175 Feet (53.3 Meters)
Structure Length
178 Feet (54.3 Meters)
Roadway Width
15 Feet (4.57 Meters)
1 Main Span(s)
NBI Number

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

Sparks, Baltimore County, Maryland. A few miles east of Interstate 83, about 25 miles north of Baltimore and 17 miles south of the Maryland/Pennsylvania state line.


Semi-rural, in woods just outside boundary of Gunpowder Falls State Park, near the Sparks Nature Center, not far from suburban development on either side of the park.

Belfast Road exit from I-83. Parking available in small lot for the rail trail and Nature Center a short walk from the bridge.

Gunpowder Falls

Current Status:
One-lane bridge, steel grid deck, carries traffic on Sparks Road, a narrow, winding two-lane road.

Plaque on truss over roadway reads "Wrought Iron Bridge Co., Canton, Ohio". No date on bridge. No decorative elements other than the plaque.

None known. However, the bridge is not currently preserved or in a park. It does support traffic, and further suburban development in the area could potentially increase traffic needs on the bridge.

HistoricBridges.org Discussion

The prolific Wrought Iron Bridge Company typically built bridges for customers according to one of its many standard designs it used over the years. This bridge is an example of one of the company's standard designs that was apparently rarely used, since very few remain today relative to other designs. The unique features that distinguish this rare standard is the use of lacing instead of cover plate on end posts and top chord, as well as the unusually broad portal bracing consisting of what couple be described as a very sparse lattice design. This design was likely offered by the company as an alternative to the Whipple truss where a longer span was required. Note the relatively long (for a pin-connected Pratt) span of 175 feet for this bridge.

The bridge was altered in 1990 by addition of a load-bearing steel arch. There are a variety of ways such a retrofit can be added to a truss bridge, this bridge showcases one of the most invasive methods. Some arch retrofits simply connect hangers to floorbeams, but this example also has massive stringers added under the deck, as well as a secondary bottom chord added for the benefit of the arch.


Photo Galleries and Videos: Sparks Road Bridge

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Maps and Links: Sparks Road Bridge

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