Lancaster County's engineers built a large number of concrete through girders, something most other places in Pennsylvania did not do. A noteworthy number of them remain in the county today, however many are threatened with demolition. Concrete through girders, despite their rarity, are often ignored by state historic bridge inventories and their significance often goes unrecognized. Although perhaps among the more simple and unadorned of historic bridge types, these utilitarian structures still convey a sense of age, and the simple inset rectangle shapes and marble plaques on the Lancaster County girders show that even with simple bridges like this, engineers of the early 20th Century refused to design a bridge as ugly as the slabs of concrete that pass for bridges in the 21st Century. Because concrete through girders are rare on a state level, all surviving girders in Lancaster County that retain good historic integrity should be considered significant. Concrete through girder bridges represent the period of experimentation that accompanied the use of concrete in bridge construction during the first couple decades of the 20th Century. Concrete girder bridges were in many ways a failed experiment because they could not normally be economically built with deck widths much wider than 20-22 feet, and so as the need for wider bridges became apparent moving into the 20th Century, concrete through girders quickly fell from favor, and were generally not built after 1930. Because they are rare today and represent a period of experimentation in bridge design, HistoricBridges.org considers concrete through girders to be significant.
This bridge is a good representative example of a Lancaster County through girder. Constructed in 1914, the bridge is among the earlier examples of the concrete through girder. Handsome stone abutments offer an interesting contrast to the concrete girder superstructure. The bridge retains marble plaques and seems to be in decent condition. Amish population living in the region reduces the amount of heavy, motorized traffic on these bridges. A bulky concrete girder bridge like this can easily carry horse and buggy traffic, and its narrow width acts as a traffic calming measure, helping ensure that motorized traffic maintains a reduced speed in a region with significant horse and buggy traffic. Regardless, this bridge was included on a Lancaster County bridge removal list. Demolishing this bridge seems to be a waste of money. Minor repairs and maintenance would keep this bridge open for horse and buggy traffic as well as light motorized vehicles.
Information and Findings From Pennsylvania's Historic Bridge Inventory
Discussion of Bridge
The single span, 50'-long, reinforced concrete thru girder bridge built in 1914 is supported on stone abutments with concrete bridge seats. The girders are paneled below the thicker top flange section. A transverse concrete slab spans between the girders. The bridge is an example of one of the least successful standardized reinforce concrete bridges types developed during the first decade of the 20th century. At least 65 thru girder bridges from 1906 to 1930 have been identified with more than one-third of the examples in Lancaster County where their use was forwarded by county engineer F. H. Shaw beginning before 1910. The bridge is not historically or technologically distinguished by its setting or context.
Discussion of Surrounding Area
The bridge carries a 2 lane road over a stream in a rural area of active farms and scattered 20th century houses and businesses. A modern light industrial building is located at the southwest quadrant. The township garage is at the northeast quadrant. A farm complex with 19th century stone barn is located at the northwest quadrant. The setting does not have the cohesiveness or integrity of a historic district. [Note: The Phase 2 survey form noted this bridge might be adjacent the NR-listed Windsor Forge Mansion. That was incorrect. The mansion is located more than 1/2 mile to the west. The bridge is not related.]
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: No
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Crossing The Bridge
Full Motion Video
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