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Monaca-Beaver Railroad Bridge

Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad Bridge

Monaca-Beaver Railroad Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber

Bridge Documented: July 9, 2009

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Railroad (CSX) Over Ohio River
Monaca and Beaver: Beaver County, Pennsylvania: United States
Structure Type
Metal Cantilever 26 Panel Rivet-Connected Baltimore Through Truss, Fixed and Approach Spans: Metal 12 Panel Pin-Connected Pennsylvania Through Truss, Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1910 By Builder/Contractor: McClintic-Marshall Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Engineer/Design: Albert Lucius of New York, New York

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
769 Feet (234.4 Meters)
Structure Length
1,779 Feet (542.2 Meters)
Roadway Width
29 Feet (8.84 Meters)
3 Main Span(s) and 1 Approach Span(s)
NBI Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

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

HAER Data Pages, HTML - HAER Data Pages, PDF

View Historical Article About This Bridge

View Detailed Historical Article From American Society of Civil Engineers

This is one of the largest and most visually impressive bridges in this region which is rich with historic bridges. The main span is a classic cantilever truss style which uses the Baltimore truss design. Constructed in the wake of the collapse of the first Quebec Bridge, the attention this bridge got from the engineering  community as well as its traditional yet massive design are all likely no coincidence, especially considering that Albert Lucius, the consulting engineer for the project, actually worked for the Phoenix Bridge Company (which attempted to build the first Quebec Bridge) at one time, although he was not part of the Quebec Bridge project.

There is a through truss approach at the north end which is a Pennsylvania truss.

The bridge is distinguished today as an early surviving cantilever truss bridge.

Historical Photos

Below is a selection and discussion of photos taken from the Transactions of the American Society of Civil Engineers (full article available at top of narrative) that detail the construction of this bridge.

The above image shows the erection of the traveler. A traveler was used to erect the Pennsylvania truss span as well as the anchor arms of the cantilever. These, tall, box-like crane structures had multiple hooks that could be used to erect the bridge. Travelers were commonly used in the construction of earlier cantilever truss bridges like the Beaver Bridge.

With the Beaver Bridge however, a different crane described as a "crawler" which had an appearance more like a typical crane was used to erect the cantilever arms and suspended span. The crawler is visible in the above photos which show the erection of these portions of the bridge. Because of the manner in which the anchor arm of a cantilever truss balances the cantilever arm, falsework was not required for this portion of the construction sequence.

Here, the Pennsylvania truss span is being constructed. Note the erection traveler. Also note the temporary supporting wooden falsework, a mainstay of simple truss span construction for the period.

These photos show the assembly of bridge components and sections in a bridge shop and in a construction yard. Components would be shipped to the site by rail.

This photo shows the arrival of a bottom chord connection on site. Be sure to click on the above photo to view a larger version where the person poking their head through the pin hole will be more clearly visible. Workers often enjoyed posing for photographs and they also give a good sense of scale.

This fascinating photo shows the driving of a pin for a diagonal member. The details of the photo are difficult to make out (click to view the larger version for somewhat better detail) but it appears that the pin is held in place by two cables or ropes. A crane is holding what appears to be a large ramming device which the workers appear to be pulling back in preparation to physically drive the pin into place.


Photo Galleries and Videos: Monaca-Beaver Railroad Bridge

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