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Peevy Road Bridge

Peevy Road Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber

Bridge Documented: May 30, 2010

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Peevy Road Over Perkiomen Creek
Rural: Montgomery County, Pennsylvania: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1880 By Builder/Contractor: Columbia Bridge Works of Dayton, Ohio

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
100 Feet (30.5 Meters)
Structure Length
103 Feet (31.4 Meters)
Roadway Width
15.4 Feet (4.69 Meters)
1 Main Span(s)
NBI Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
View Information About HSR Ratings

Bridge Documentation

View Archived National Bridge Inventory Report - Has Additional Details and Evaluation

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

 View A History of David Morrison From Historic American Engineering Record

View A David Morrison Bridge Patent With Some Details Similar To This Bridge

David H. Morrison's Columbia Bridge Works of Dayton, Ohio was noted for its bridges dating from the 1870s through the 1890s that utilized a large number of rolled beams in its members rather than built-up beams that were more common in the period due to the limited size and/or potentially a higher cost of rolled I-beams caused by the limited technology and facilities of the iron/steel mills of the period. In other cases, Morrison designed bridges to use pairs of smaller rolled I-beams which would be held together by square blocks placed between the pairs. The company's widespread use of rolled I-beams was unusual for this period in history. However, the use of rolled beams by the Columbia Bridge Works in the 1880s foretold of a trend that would spread throughout the bridge world, but amazingly not until decades later. In this sense, Columbia Bridge Works was far ahead of its time.

The Columbia Bridge Works, particularly on its earlier bridges like the Peevy Road Bridge, also display an extremely wide range of unusual and distinctive design details that are vastly different from anything seen on other bridges of the time. Columbia Bridge Works simply did not conform to any of the traditional truss and beam details in use during the period. Even if the the bridges do not retain the distinctive, ornate builder plaques, the identity of Columbia Bridge Works bridges is painfully obvious by way of the design.

The Peevy Road Bridge displays a particularly wide range and unaltered set of these unusual details. The struts on the bridge are rolled I-beams. The top chord and end posts are an unusual design composed of a rolled I-beam with a rolled angle riveted to the to each flange. The vertical members of the bridge are two rolled I-beams which are held together with "packing blocks" placed between the pairs and riveted to the I-beams. The bottom chord of the bridge is composed of simple flat bars without eyes, similar to the bottom chords that appeared on many bowstring arch/truss bridges of the 1870s. The bottom chord sections are spliced near the bottom chord connections via trios of small pins, a most unusual detail. The diagonal members of the bridge are equally unusual. Some of the diagonals are rods that end in eyes short of the top or bottom chord and are attached to short pairs of bars by a pin. These bars in turn run the remaining distance and connect to the actual bottom chord connection. On the top chord, some of the diagonal members instead run through the top chord and are connected to the top chord by way of the threaded rod and nut method similar to that often seen on those bowstring arch/truss bridges of the 1870s. Finally the general design of the bridge's bearing and shoe casting is atypical, partly on account of the abnormal design of the end post and the bottom chord. Here, the end post terminates in a three-fingered casting that has a pin running through it as well as the two bottom chord bars and the cast "shoe" that also functions as a sole plate for the bearing.

This bridge is considered by the Historic Bridge Inventory to be one of the most significant bridges in Pennsylvania that documents the development of the metal truss bridge. HistoricBridges.org agrees with this assessment. Among the small collection of Columbia Bridge Works bridges surviving in the country, this bridge stands out as one of the least altered and early examples, and also one of the examples that displays the greatest quantity and variety of unusual design details that defines the Columbia Bridge Works identity. The beautifully decorated bridge retains good aesthetic integrity as well, with plaques remaining as well as the beautiful cast iron caps that fit over the top of the end posts and the ends of the top chord. The ornate portal bracing knee castings remain as well. The only major thing missing on the bridge is its original railings. Based on the empty holes seen on the vertical members and end posts, it appears that the original railings were very lightweight pole railings.

The bridge remains in decent condition and because of its significance, the bridge should be given high preservation priority, and any rehabilitation projects for this bridge should be carefully designed to be respective of the historic integrity of the bridge. Future work on the bridge should also include the removal of the existing railings which are not original and installation of railings that are not mounted to the trusses and are instead mounted into the deck. This will protect the historic bridge trusses from possible damage during a vehicular collision.

Information and Findings From Pennsylvania's Historic Bridge Inventory

Discussion of Bridge

The one span, 102'-long metal Pratt thru truss bridge is supported on concrete-capped stone abutments with flared wingwalls. It is one of the most important bridges in the state illustrating the evolution of metal truss bridge technology, and it is historically and technologically significant . It is remarkably complete, and it has idiosyncratic details that reflect designer David H. Morrison's thinking about truss members and connections including the "hollow cylinder" verticals with "packing blocks" and the "flat bar chords."

Discussion of Surrounding Area

The single lane bridge carries a township road over a stream in a forested setting with a late-19th century brick house and a stone and brick mill building beyond one quadrant. The other quadrants are wooded. The bridge is at a T intersection.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes


Photo Galleries and Videos: Peevy Road Bridge

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Bridge Photo-Documentation
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Bridge Photo-Documentation
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Westbound Crossing of the Bridge
Full Motion Video
Streaming video of the bridge. Also includes a higher quality downloadable video for greater clarity or offline viewing.
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Eastbound Crossing of the Bridge
Full Motion Video
Streaming video of the bridge. Also includes a higher quality downloadable video for greater clarity or offline viewing.
View Video
Another Westbound Crossing
Full Motion Video
Streaming video of the bridge. Also includes a higher quality downloadable video for greater clarity or offline viewing.


Maps and Links: Peevy Road Bridge

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