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Hilltown Bridge

Churchill Road Bridge

Hilltown Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: July 3, 2006

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Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Churchill Road Over Mahoning River
Rural: Lawrence County, Pennsylvania: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
By Builder/Contractor: Unknown and Engineer/Design: Thomas Gilkey
Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
153.0 Feet (46.6 Meters)
Structure Length
282.0 Feet (86 Meters)
Roadway Width
15.4 Feet (4.69 Meters)
2 Main Span(s)
Inventory Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

This bridge no longer exists!

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

This historic bridge was demolished and replaced in 2007!

Despite the fact that Pennsylvania has lots of large rivers, as well as lots of metal truss bridges compared to other states like Michigan, the number of remaining multi-span pin connected Pratt through truss bridges has dwindled to an alarming low. As such, the preservation of this bridge should have been pursued. This bridge had two spans of differing age. The span at the north end of the bridge appeared to be much older, based on the lightweight members. The southern end was dated 1913 by the plaque, and although it is still a pin connected, the members a a bit more massive typical of a later pin-connected truss bridge.

Someone had made off with the "elaborate scroll-design fill" that the historic bridge inventory entry mentioned by the time HistoricBridges.org documented the bridge in 2006. Oddly, though those appear to have been on the older north span, where empty bolt/rivet holes on that bracing were observed, the Historic Bridge Inventory seemed to think that those were on both spans, which they were not. The Historic Bridge Inventory failed to realize there were two different age and design spans composing this bridge. The north span is unlikely to be a product of this engineer Thomas Gilkey that is shown on the plaque of the newer south span. It is unknown who built the original two-span bridge, of which the northern span appeared to have been a remnant and when. It is likely that some disaster necessitated the replacement of the southern span in 1913.

Also, while the Historic Bridge Inventory shoots down Thomas Gilkey's efforts in Lawrence County, it is worth suggesting an alternative viewpoint that because the newer span of this bridge is associated with Gilkey that it is significant as an example of how bridge design in Lawrence County unfolded in the early 20th century. Because of Gilkey, a local engineer, Lawrence County was building different types of bridges than most places were in the 1910s. Thomas Gilkey also designed the large Mahoning Avenue Viaduct, and the Mill Street Bridge in New Castle, all late examples of pin-connected truss bridges.

Information and Findings From Pennsylvania's Historic Bridge Inventory

Discussion of Bridge

The 2-span, 282' long and 16' wide, pin connected Pratt thru truss bridge supported on an ashlar substructure was fabricated in 1914. The trusses are traditionally composed, and the floorbeams are framed into the verticals above the eye bar lower chords. The knee braces of the lattice portal braces have an elaborate scroll-design fill. The bridge appears to be complete, but it is an extremely late example of its technology. Mr. Gilkey designed pin connected bridges for the county through the 1920s. The bridge has no innovative or distinctive details, and it is neither historically or technologically significant.

Discussion of Surrounding Area

The bridge carries a 2 lane road over a stream in a sparsely developed area with scattered 20th century houses. The earliest ones are highly altered, and there are many modern houses. The area does not have historic district potential.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: No


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Maps and Links: Hilltown Bridge

This historic bridge has been demolished. This map is shown for reference purposes only.

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Bridgehunter.com: View listed bridges within 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) of this bridge.

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HistoricBridges.org Bridge Browser: View listed bridges within 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) of this bridge.

HistoricBridges.org Bridge Browser: View listed bridges within 10 miles (16 kilometers) of this bridge.

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

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