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.
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.
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.
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