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Dowlin Forge Road Bridge

Dowlin Forge Road Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Elaine Deutsch

Bridge Documented: 2008

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Dowlin Forge Road Over Shamona Creek
Rural: Chester County, Pennsylvania: United States
Structure Type
Stone Segmental Deck Arch, Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1907 By Builder/Contractor: P. J. McCormick and Son of West Chester, Pennsylvania and Engineer/Design: Nathan R. Rambo

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
36 Feet (11 Meters)
Structure Length
36 Feet (11 Meters)
Roadway Width
13.8 Feet (4.21 Meters)
1 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

This bridge is one of Chester County's unusual stone arch bridges with brick rings, however the outside of the ring has been unfortunately covered in concrete, reducing not only the historic integrity but also the aesthetic quality of the bridge. The brick is still visible on the intrados of the arch however. The bridge is noted for its curved "s" style roadway, where the approaches are curved to align with the approaching roadway, but the actual arch superstructure is not curved or skewed. Most stone arch bridges were built in the 1800s and engineers (and perhaps stone masons as well) either did not know how or did not feel like going through the trouble of making a skewed stone arch bridge which would have been a lot more complicated. Skewed stone arch bridges are rare. However, when the river did not cross the road at a ninety degree angle, an "s" bridge would often be designed. This 1907 Chester County stone arch is a late example of an "s" bridge, perhaps further evidence that county engineer Nathan Rambo not only preferred building traditional stone arches after their time, but he also preferred to keep the engineering simple by following tried and true 19th Century design.

Information and Findings From Pennsylvania's Historic Bridge Inventory

Discussion of Bridge

The one-span, 38'-long, brick arch bridge has fieldstone spandrel walls and parapets. It is supported on stone abutments. The bridge arch ring has been pargetted with a thick coat of cementitious material, and there are several generations of inappropriate repointing. It is one of at least 9 identified brick arch bridges from 1901 to 1908 in Chester County. There are approximately 25 brick arch highway bridges from about 1864 to 1908 in the state. Other less altered examples in the county and region represent the technological and historical significance of brick arch bridges within the context of county-built bridge types. Two Chester County-built brick arch bridges by the same engineer and builder have been National Register-listed as a result of the previous historic bridge survey (BMS# 15 4006 0060 1731, built in 1903; and, BMS# 15 4039 0020 0015, built in 1904). They are both complete without significant alterations.

Discussion of Surrounding Area

The bridge carries a 2 lane road over a stream in a residential setting of predominately mid to late-20th-century residences. At the bridge's southeast and northwest quadrants are modern residences. At the northeast quadrant is a stone foundation. The setting does not have historic district potential. The Phase 2 draft survey form mistakenly placed this bridge near the Dowlin Forge archeological site. The forge site is approximately 3/4 mile distant to the southwest.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: No


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