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Johnstown Incline Plane Bridge

Johnstown Incline Plane Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber

Bridge Documented: August 1, 2007

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Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Johnstown Incline Access Over Stonycreek River
Johnstown: Cambria County, Pennsylvania: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1890 By Builder/Contractor: Phoenix Bridge Company of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania
Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
230.0 Feet (70.1 Meters)
Structure Length
237.0 Feet (72.2 Meters)
Roadway Width
16.7 Feet (5.09 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 Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) Documentation For This Bridge

HAER Data Pages, PDF

View the National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form For This Bridge

View the National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form For The Incline

This bridge was built solely to provide access to the Johnstown Incline, which provides transportation up to what was originally a Cambria Iron Company sponsored residential development called Westmont. It was also created in response to the 1889 Johnstown Flood, since this facility could provide a way for residents of Johnstown to escape to high ground in the event of a flood. The bridge and incline did indeed later serve this purpose in a 1936 flood. As such, this bridge is significant for its association with the flood response, and with the incline which is a significant engineering feat in its own right, and one of very few remaining examples of an incline of this size.

This bridge itself is significant as an example of an uncommon and complex truss configuration, the Pennsylvania truss. The bridge has a rather wide deck for an 1890 bridge. The length of the bridge is significant, although it falls short of the average length for this truss configuration. It may be that this truss configuration was selected to give the bridge extra strength to withstand any floods.

The bridge has been rehabilitated over the years and as such some of the original design integrity has been lost. The observant bridge enthusiast may note these alterations. However, the overall materials and design of the bridge remains intact. The cyclone fence present on the bridge is perhaps the most notable and unsightly modern addition to the bridge. It would be nice to see this replaced with a barrier that does not obstruct the view of the truss and its details.


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