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Messerall Road Bridge

Messerall Road Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: July 1, 2006

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Messerall Road (TR-993) Over Pine Creek
East Titusville: Crawford County, Pennsylvania: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1876 By Builder/Contractor: Wrought Iron Bridge Company of Canton, Ohio

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
99 Feet (30.18 Meters)
Structure Length
103 Feet (31.39 Meters)
Roadway Width
14.8 Feet (4.51 Meters)
1 Main Span(s)
NBI Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

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

While Western Pennsylvania is (or was) known for its large number and rich variety of historic metal truss bridges, one category that the area lacks in is 1870s bowstring truss bridges. This abandoned bridge is one of the only known examples. The bowstring truss bridge, sometimes called a type of arch bridge, is the oldest and rarest type of metal truss bridge that was built in noteworthy numbers, mostly in the 1870s. Unlike the truss bridge designs that came to dominate the truss bridge era later on, these bridges stand on their own as a whole category of truss bridge. They really don't have a lot in common with the appearance of a truss bridge or a typical arch bridge, although in terms of engineering, they combine the physics of each. Despite this level of rarity that makes this bridge more significant than any wooden covered bridge, the Messerall Road Bridge sits abandoned, with its deck removed, just waiting for an abutment to fail or a bad spring food to send this priceless bridge crashing into the creek.

This bridge is an excellent, and large example of the Wrought Iron Bridge Company version of the bowstring truss bridge. The bridge features a Keystone style top chord column, the most common style of top chord that the company used, based on surviving bridges.

The historic bridge inventory actually had the date for this bridge at 1870, which is impossible, since 1870 was before the patent date of 1873 listed on the plaque. The Historic American Engineering Record provided the correct date of 1876. The date is corrected in the inventory discussion table below.

Information and Findings From Pennsylvania's Historic Bridge Inventory

Discussion of Bridge

The single span, 103'-long, bowstring thru truss bridge dates to [1876] and is a rare and remarkably complete example of the Wrought Iron Bridge Company's "column, plate, and channel" design patented by David Hammond, founder of WIBC. An extremely important bridge in the documentation of the development of the metal truss bridge, it was documented by HAER in 1998.

Discussion of Surrounding Area

The bridge carries 1 lane of a closed road over a stream. It is located immediately behind a modern lumber yard in East Titusvile.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes

This bridge is tagged with the following special condition(s): Keystone Columns


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