This bridge is an excellent example of an earlier work done by the Penn Bridge Company, a regionally prolific bridge company that operated out of a surprisingly small works in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. Compare this bridge to Michigan's Bauer Road Bridge, although Bauer Road is slightly older with an 1881 construction date. The Clarks Mills Bridge is still a very old bridge, and one of the most significant in Mercer County. It features the two pin configuration at the hip vertical upper chord connections that often accompany earlier Penn Bridge Company bridges. The small, yet ornate little details added to the portal bracing show the Penn Bridge Company's awareness of the importance of small decorations adding a lot in terms of aesthetic value to a bridge. These details include builder plaques that cap off the ends of the top chord, a cast iron decoration mounted to the bottom of the portal bracing, and decorative buttons that include a variety of patterns and images including what appears to be the Liberty Bell..
The bridge enjoys a high level of historic integrity. Despite the importance of this bridge, it has been listed for replacement in coming years. Plans for demolition must be halted and a comprehensive preservation solution needs to be developed for this bridge.
Information and Findings From Pennsylvania's Historic Bridge Inventory
Discussion of Bridge
The 1885, single span, 82'-long, Pratt thru truss bridge is supported on ashlar abutments with flared wingwalls. The traditionally composed trusses have built up box section upper chords, channels with lacing verticals, and eye bar lower chords and diagonals. The bridge is historically and technologically significant as a complete, early example of a pin connected, metal thru truss bridge. The bridge is one of the two oldest surviving truss bridges in the county. Adding to its significance is its association with the Penn Bridge Company, a prolific regional fabricator of metal truss bridges.
Discussion of Surrounding Area
The bridge carries a 1 lane unimproved road over a stream in a sparsely developed, rural area with scattered, undistinguished early and mid 20th century houses. The area does not have historic district potential.
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes
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