Be sure to read the State Historic Resource Survey Form for a more detailed history of the bridge.
This county-owned bridge is 152+ years old and it is a beautiful example of its type. It is locally significant as a well-known bridge that was portrayed in a number of early 20th Century postcards and has been portrayed by noted artists, etc. As such, the bridge is an important part of the local heritage. Local heritage is further enhanced by the fact that it is the oldest bridge in Lower Saucon Township and one of the oldest arch bridges in Northampton County. Whether you consider the bridge 102 feet long as the National bridge Inventory does, or 120 feet as historical surveys do, the four span bridge is a larger and thus more noteworthy example of a stone arch bridge than many of the smaller stone arch bridges that still manage to survive in Pennsylvania.
This historic bridge is currently been slated for demolition and replacement with an ugly, mundane slab of concrete. However, there are some people who have been against demolition of this historic bridge, and would like to see the bridge preserved. A study was conducted on the bridge by an engineer experienced with masonry construction and it was determined feasible to preserve the bridge. HistoricBridges.org supports the preservation of this historic bridge for continued use as a one-lane bridge.
Pennsylvania's Historic Bridge Inventory found this 152+ year old bridge to be ineligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, due to alterations of the parapet, notably shotcrete applied to the inner face and replacement of segments with concrete. They also are critical of the pointing of the stones on the bridge. However, HistoricBridges.org disagrees with this assessment does not believe these issues are enough to warrant a finding of this bridge as not historic. The bridge is over 150 years old, which is an extremely old bridge for the United States. The majority of original bridge materials remain on the bridge, and the stone arches themselves appear to be original and they appear to retain their original design.
There is another interesting reason that altered parapets and the stone pointing on the Meadows Road Bridge should not be reasons to list a bridge as ineligible. Some stone arch bridges that have been found eligible for the National Register of Historic Places in Pennsylvania, such as the Swamp Creek Bridge #1 and Swamp Creek Bridge #2 are being rehabilitated in the name of historic preservation, and these projects include reconstruction of the parapets and re-pointing of the stone arches. The official scope of rehabilitation includes "reconstruction of stone masonry parapets with reinforced concrete cores and full width moment slab, reconstruction of wingwalls, repointing as needed, and the resetting or arch ringstones." Many of these repairs will alter the bridge in a similar manner as the Meadows Road Bridge exists today. The rehabilitation project is great, and HistoricBridges.org supports it. However the question is why is the Meadows Road Bridge considered not historic with similar alterations?
There seems to be a double-standard in Pennsylvania. It apparently is acceptable to alter a listed stone arch bridge by changing the parapets and it is apparently also acceptable to correct the pointing of the stone. This being the case, then why is a bridge that exists with a poor stone pointing and altered parapets considered not historic and ineligible for listing? There is no valid reason. Another double standard in Pennsylvania exists when covered bridges are considered. All remaining covered bridges in the Commonwealth, even later and altered examples, were all listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Stone arch bridges, particularly the larger multi-span examples like the Meadows Road Bridge are similarly aged and the surviving population appears to be similar. If all the covered bridges are listed on the National Register, than the stone arch bridges should be as well.
The Meadows Road Bridge should therefore be re-evaluated as historic and eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. A comprehensive rehabilitation project should be developed for the bridge which repoints the stones as needed and repairs the parapets in a way that makes them look better and function more adequately.
Information and Findings From Pennsylvania's Historic Bridge Inventory
Discussion of Bridge
The 4 span, 102'-long stone arch bridge laid up in rubble coursed fieldstone and matched ring stones has been rebuilt several times. It is dated 1858, but it has been poorly pointed, and there are sections of the parapets that have been rebuilt in concrete, not stone. The roadway faces of the parapets are coated with concrete, and the cap stones are concrete. There are tie rods through the spandrel walls. The bridge is not a good example of period workmanship. Its setting does not maintain its historic character. Neither the bridge nor its setting are historically or technologically significant.
Discussion of Surrounding Area
The bridge carries a 2 lane road over a stream in a mixed use setting that includes a large modern restaurant and modern houses. Beyond the northwest quadrant is a handsome 19th century stone mill. The setting is not a potential historic district although the mill may well be individually significant.
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: No
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