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Spile Bridge

Spile Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: April 7, 2018 and October 15, 2013

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Spile Bridge Road Over Black Lake Outlet
Rural: St. Lawrence County, New York: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1874 By Builder/Contractor: King Bridge Company of Cleveland, Ohio

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
122 Feet (37.1 Meters)
Structure Length
370 Feet (112.8 Meters)
Roadway Width
14.4 Feet (4.39 Meters)
3 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 Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) Documentation For This Bridge

View Historic Bridge Inventory Sheet For This Bridge

View Report About King Bridge Company Bridges in New York State by Alan King Sloan

Cast and wrought iron bowstring truss bridges are rare to begin with, but multi-span examples are even moreso. As such, this is an extremely rare and highly significant bridge with its three bowstring spans. Interestingly, this bridge was once even longer in another location. This bridge was originally located over the Oswegatchie River at Ogdensburg, from Lafayette Street to Spring Street. This bridge had five spans at this original location. In 1914, the bridge was replaced and three of the spans were moved here to replace an existing timber bridge.

Built in 1874, this bowstring bridge appears to utilize the King Iron Bridge Company's earlier design for a bowstring truss. The earlier design lacks lattice on the vertical members, with only star iron (cruciform) rods present. It also uses an unusual double-intersecting layout of the lower lateral bracing rods, which appears to have been more common on earlier King Bridge Company bowstring bridges. Even more unusual is the overhead bracing which is not typical among surviving bowstrings by King Bridge Company. The remarkable fabrications consist of four pieces of star iron (cruciform), which bow out in the center, with cast iron spacers holding them in this position. The four pieces of star iron converge at each end, where a forge weld transitions the four pieces of star iron into a single threaded rod termination. This forge weld represents outstanding craftsmanship on the part of the blacksmith as this would be a challenging forge weld. Some of the original sway bracing has been replaced, but many intact examples remain in place.

Over its long history in two locations, the bridge has accumulated some alterations. The floorbeams on the bridge are likely not original. The way that the outriggers attach to the floorbeams appears to have changed. The looped bar that normally would be in line with the profile of the floorbeam is instead bent 90 degrees at the end of each floorbeam. The top chord of this bridge has been altered considerably. The original design consists of channel on the top and bottom with riveted plate on either side. The alteration is the addition of welded plate spanning between the flanges of the channel on the top and bottom. This has left the connection points inside "holes" created by the adding of plate to the top of the top chord. This alteration may present long-term preservation concerns as it likely results in moisture retention on the bridge. Rain and dirt can enter the void between the added plate and the channel web via the connection points. Even though wrought iron resists deterioration like weathering steel, it will not withstand excessive contact with water and moisture. The bearings at the abutments are also buried in dirt which is a moisture problem.

The bridge was closed to vehicular traffic in 2010 and subsequently abandoned.


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