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 flood 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  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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Coordinates (Latitude, Longitude):
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