Bizarre is perhaps the best way to describe the appearance of this bridge. The bridge is skewed in a most unusual manner. On one side of the truss, the end post is inclined and on the other side, the end post is vertical. This creates a one panel skew at each end of the bridge. It also gives the bridge a distinct, unusual appearance.
This bridge is a great example of why historic truss bridges contribute so much to their surrounding environment. While a modern beam bridge might not result in any notice by people, this bridge might even attract the attention and interest of people not interested in bridges. It is the sort of bridge that demands notice and attention. Besides the unusual skew, this is an attractive bridge with built-up beams containing v-lacing, and lattice. The truss configuration is Parker which gives the bridge a pleasing arched appearance on top.
One of the center spans of the Mahoning Avenue Viaduct has this same unusual design, although it doesn't stand out as much because it is buried between other non-skewed truss spans. The Mahoning Avenue Viaduct was designed by Thomas Gilkey, who designed a number of truss structures for Lawrence County. Given that both the viaduct and this bridge share the unusual skew design, it seems likely that Gilkey designed the Mill Street Bridge as well.
Despite this bridge's unusual design, iconic appearance, heritage value, and modest level of deterioration that made rehabilitation feasible and likely less costly than demolition and replacement, this bridge has joined the disturbing number of historic truss bridges in Pennsylvania to be demolished and replaced with a mundane structure with no cultural or aesthetic value worth mentioning. This lack of vision is outshined only by Pennsylvania's Historic Bridge Inventory, which did not think this bridge's unusual design was even noteworthy, while at the same time failing to demonstrate that this bridge's design is common. The truth is that this bridge was rare, it was significant, and should have been treated accordingly.
HistoricBridges.org was fortunate enough to benefit from the generosity of others who documented the demolition of this bridge extensively. In the photo gallery, Eric Mastrangelo's high resolution photos document the demolition. Additionally, video taken by Clearwater Construction, Inc. was shared with HistoricBridges.org with kind permission from company owner Gary Gorski. Thanks to these individuals for recording the demolition of this bridge. In the short term, it is hoped that the photos and video will raise awareness of the alarming loss of historic bridges in Pennsylvania. In the long term, this documentation is a record of the fact that these bridges were not lost due to disaster or other reasons beyond control, but instead were lost due to the decisions of their owners, in this case, Lawrence County. Just as easily, the decision to preserve this bridge could have been made by Lawrence County.
Information and Findings From Pennsylvania's Historic Bridge Inventory
Discussion of Bridge
The one-span, 221'-long and 36' wide, pin connected Parker thru truss bridge built in 1917 is supported on ashlar abutments. The bridge is skewed on one side only. The trusses are traditionally composed of built up members and eye bars for the verticals and lower chords. There are bolted and welded repairs to various members. The cantilevered sidewalks are finished with period metal railings. The bridge has no innovative or distinctive details, and it is a later example of its technology, which had been used with frequency throughout the state since around the 1890s. This late pinned example is of average length, and neither it nor its setting are historically or technologically significant.
Discussion of Surrounding Area
The bridge carries a two-lane street and sidewalks over Neshannock Creek in the City of New Castle. An early-20th century, 3-story brick commercial structure is beyond the southeast quadrant, but the other quadrants are vacant because the buildings have been removed. The area does not have historic district potential.
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: No
This historic bridge has been demolished. This map is shown for reference purposes only.
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