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Watson Mill Road Bridge

Watson Mill Road Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Elaine Deutsch

Bridge Documented: April 18, 2008

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Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Watson Mill Road Over Broad Run
Rural: Chester County, Pennsylvania: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1915 By Builder/Contractor: Crossan Construction Company of Philadelphia and Brownsville, Pennsylvania
Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
30.0 Feet (9.1 Meters)
Structure Length
33.0 Feet (10.1 Meters)
Roadway Width
17.7 Feet (5.39 Meters)
1 Main Span(s)
Inventory Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

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

View A Short Biography of Kennedy Crossan

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This bridge is one of a fair number of similar bridges in Chester County that are of unusual design. While not highly significant in terms of beauty or heritage value, they are unusual because they combine a traditional stone substructure with a cutting edge (for the period) reinforced concrete and steel superstructure. They appear to be confined to Chester County, having been designed by the county. The superstructure is a steel stringer bridge with a concrete deck. Stringers are encased in concrete using the jack-arch method, which was a method used briefly in the early 20th Century. The outside of the superstructure is also faced in concrete, which extends above the deck to hold the pipe railing system.

The contractor is identified on the marble plaque as simply "Kennedy Crossan". This is presumed to refer to Kennedy Crossan who owned the Crossan Construction Company of Philadelphia and Brownsville, Pennsylvania. Kennedy Crossan the man died in 1912, but his company lived on and was still in operation when this bridge was built. Kennedy Crossan was born in Chester County so it is perhaps not surprising to see him and his company involved with construction in the county. The only mystery is, assuming this theory is correct, why the contractor is listed as Kennedy Crossan and not Crossan Construction Company, unless this was an effort to honor the legacy of the deceased man who was born in Chester County.

Information and Findings From Pennsylvania's Historic Bridge Inventory

Discussion of Bridge

The skewed, one span, 33'-long, steel stringer bridge, built in 1915, has a concrete jack arch deck, pipe railings, stone abutments, and stone wingwalls with stone parapets. Over 110 examples of steel stringer with concrete jack arch deck bridges have been identified statewide from 1905 to 1956, with approximately 20 dating to before 1915. They enjoyed a period of popularity during the mid 1910s in Chester County under the direction of County Engineer Nathan R. Rambo, who favored the design because of its simplicity, compactness, and economy. The county has 14 identified examples from 1913 to 1918, more than any other county in the state. Complete, prototypical examples from before 1915 are considered significant in the Chester County context, reflecting the local application of national thinking about bridge technology and design. This 1915 example 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 setting with a scattered mix of 19th to late-20th-century residences and farms. A large residential subdivision was being constructed to the east of the bridge in 1997. Approximately 500' to the north of the bridge is an older farm complex with a vernacular ca. 1790-1830 stone residence and several generations of later additions. The setting does not have the cohesiveness or integrity of a potential historic district.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: No


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2021 National Bridge Inventory: View listed bridges within 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) of this bridge.

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