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Fink Truss Bridge

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Fink Truss Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Elaine Deutsch

Bridge Documented: November 12, 2011

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Scenic Overlook Over None (Exhibit)
Rural: Chester County, Pennsylvania: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1870 By Builder/Contractor: Unknown

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
43 Feet (13.2 Meters)
Structure Length
Not Available
Roadway Width
Not Available
1 Main Span(s)
NBI Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

View Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) Documentation For This Bridge

HAER Drawings, PDF

This is the only Fink truss in the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Fink truss was one of the most popular truss designed used in the first iron railroad bridges built in the United States. They most commonly were deck trusses, but came in through truss format as well. The Fink truss's use quickly died out and extant examples were also rapid demolished when increased railroad loads rendered these early bridges highly insufficient and obsolete. Only a few examples remain nationwide today.

The interpretive signage next to the bridge states incorrectly regarding the Fink truss: "It is still the most widely used truss design in bridge building today." It is unclear where this statement came from since nothing could be further from the truth. The Fink truss quickly died out by the 1880s when the Pratt truss and later the Warren truss became the dominant truss configurations.

This bridge today sits preserved in a park setting as a non-functional exhibit. The history and original use of the bridge is unusual since it was built to essentially widen a stone arch bridge in  Phoenixville, with the trusses supporting a sidewalk. One truss line was added alongside each of the three spans of the stone arch. When the bridge was relocated here, two of the truss spans were placed parallel to each other to form a more traditional independent two-truss structure. It is not known what happened to the third truss line.

Information and Findings From Pennsylvania's Historic Bridge Inventory

Discussion of Bridge

According to Chester County records, the bridge was built in 1991. The 2 span prestressed concrete box beam bridge replaced a stone arch bridge constructed in 1847. Two Fink deck trusses were added to the stone arch bridge in 1870 to support a sidewalk. The rare Fink trusses were relocated to a pedestrian trail in Warwick Park, Warwick Twp., Chester County in 1991. The box beam bridge is in the Phoenixville Historic District, and due to its date of construction is a noncontributing structure.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes


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