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Lower Rollstone Street Bridge

Lower Rollstone Street Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber

Bridge Documented: July 13, 2008

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Lower Rollstone Street Over Nashua River
Fitchburg: Worcester County, Massachusetts: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1870 By Builder/Contractor: National Bridge and Iron Works of Boston, Massachusetts and Engineer/Design: Charles H. Parker

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
105 Feet (32 Meters)
Structure Length
111 Feet (33.8 Meters)
Roadway Width
26.6 Feet (8.11 Meters)
1 Main Span(s)
NBI Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
View Information About HSR Ratings

Bridge Documentation

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

View Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) Documentation For This Bridge

HAER Data Pages, PDF

View Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC) Inventory Forms For This Historic Bridge

This bridge is nationally significant as an early example of a truss bridge which used standard interchangeable parts, early enough that the patent that was given to Parker for the design of this bridge and others like it built during the time was done partially for this reason. Unlike bridges before it, the bridge design and proportions could remain constant regardless of the size of the bridge being built. The Charles H. Parker who patented this design is also the same person for whom the Parker truss configuration is named for. It is important to note that the Lower Rollstone Bridge is a bowstring truss following the Parker patent, not a Parker truss itself. However the bridge should be considered further significant as a bridge directly associated with a famous truss bridge engineer.

The bridge is also an early example of a metal bowstring truss bridge,  and a noteworthy example of the National Bridge Company's and Parker's take on the bowstring design. Bridge companies had their own very unique bowstring designs during the 1870s as they all experimented with iron to try to find the best way to use the material for the purpose of bridge building. This design of bowstring features a rather massive top chord that includes a corrugation in the interior. The bridge features comparatively lightweight diagonal members. A unique visual detail is the distinctive decorative bollard/post attachments that attach to the actual endpost. Serving as a decorative accent to the bridge, these bollard/posts display the bridge company name.

This nationally significant historic bridge has simply been abandoned and is in an overgrown area where it is difficult to be able to appreciate and enjoy the bridge. A suggested preservation solution for this bridge would be to relocate and restore the structure into a park or non-motorized path. Any restoration project done on this bridge should be of the most meticulous kind, with care being taken to maintain every aspect of the historic integrity of the bridge and its original materials. No parts or materials on this bridge should be replaced with modern substitutes, including rivets. Although the bridge appears to retain good structural integrity, if any parts did need to be replaced, they should be exactly replicated.


Photo Galleries and Videos: Lower Rollstone Street Bridge

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Maps and Links: Lower Rollstone Street Bridge

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