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Stone Bridge

Stone Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: July 6, 2014

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Key Facts

Johnstown: Cambria County, Pennsylvania: United States
Structure Type
Stone Segmental Deck Arch, Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1888 By Builder/Contractor: Alexander G. Sparks and Shipley W. Evans of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Engineer/Design: William H. Brown

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
58 Feet (17.7 Meters)
Structure Length
580 Feet (176.8 Meters)
Roadway Width
Not Available
7 Main Span(s) and 3 Approach Span(s)
NBI Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

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

HAER Data Pages, PDF

This bridge is a well-known Johnstown landmark. It is significant for multiple reasons. From an engineering standpoint, it is a rare example of a skewed stone arch bridge. The skew is achieved by the offset of the stone ribs of the bridge. The bridge is also noteworthy as the first major stone bridge designed by William H Brown, who went on to design many enormous stone arch bridges for the Pennsylvania Railroad. Brown's choice of stone arch bridges for the railroad during this period in history, which in some cases (including this bridge) resulted in the replacement of pre-existing metal truss bridges with stone bridges, is in reverse to the traditional evolution of bridge materials where typically stone is a material replaced by use of iron and steel.

This bridge was noted as one of the only bridges in Johnstown not destroyed in the great 1889 Johnstown Flood. While this might sound like a good thing, the bridge actually trapped debris flowing down the river, including people. The debris subsequently caught fire and killed the people trapped in the debris before they could be rescued.

The bridge today looks like a concrete arch bridge from the upstream side. This is due to an alteration in 1929. While it appears visually as though the bridge was widened at this time, the bridge was apparently always a four track bridge as seen today, and the concrete section was merely a repair for the flood-damaged upstream side of the bridge.

In contemporary history, the bridge is a recognized historic landmark and a successful effort was completed to provide decorative lighting for the bridge, allowing the bridge to be enjoyed at night as well.


Photo Galleries and Videos: Stone Bridge

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