Ironically enough there are not very many Pennsylvania truss bridges in Pennsylvania! Of the small number that existed when HistoricBridges.org began operations in 2003, a substantial number of those have been or are soon to be demolished, making this bridge all the more rare. The Pennsylvania truss is the most complex of the "common" truss configurations, and is one of the most impressive with its arch-like truss shape and complex geometric art formed by its numerous truss members. Extensive v-lacing is present on the riveted built-up beams on this bridge, further adding to the complex beauty of the pin connected structure. Original lattice railings remain on all of the bridge except for the ends which have an unusual replacement with sheet metal. The portal bracing of the bridge is an a-frame design. The Youngstown Bridge Company, which built this bridge, used a builder plaque on the bridge that is oddly enough the exact same design plaque as a different bridge company, the Wrought Iron Bridge Company, sometimes used on bridges such as the bridge in nearby Venango.
This gorgeous bridge is right next to busy US-6 / US-19 but it doesn't carry a lot of traffic. As such, many get to see this bridge, yet the bridge is not responsible for carrying much traffic. The bridge is an outstanding candidate for rehabilitation for continued light vehicular use.
Sometimes in Pennsylvania it is not apparent that the local communities that surround many of the Commonwealth's historic metal truss bridges actually realize what treasures they are blessed with. However, Saegertown appears to be keenly aware of this bridge's significance as not only a thing of history, but a thing of beauty as well. The local community worked successfully to have a decorative colored flood lighting system installed on the bridge which can light the bridge up at night in a variety of colors and patterns. This type of colored lighting has been used in the past on very large urban bridges, but this is one of the only known examples where a small-town historic bridge has received this type of lighting, which makes the project noteworthy. The project cost approximately $20,000 in total. A local volunteer group, the French Creek Enhancement Committee, worked with Saegertown Borough Council to make this project a reality. The Jordan Family Foundation provided a $10,000 matching grant for the project. The borough had committed up to $5,000, but ended up only needed to contribute $3,000 toward the project. The Borough Manager, Chuck Lawrence said the goal of the project was to create a focal point for Saegertown. This certainly was an outstanding way to accomplish this. A photo of the bridge at night is available here.
It is hoped that given the fact that Saegertown and its residents put a lot of money into the lighting system on this bridge, that they will be advocates for the preservation of this historic bridge, which itself is a county-owned bridge. Crawford County is noted for demolishing its historic truss bridges with the assistance of PennDOT whose past track record for metal truss bridge preservation in this area is no better. The Saegertown Bridge will in the future be in need of rehabilitation to ensure that it remains a functional landmark for decades to come. However, Crawford County and PennDOT may seek to have this bridge demolished instead. If such a time comes, it will be important for Saegertown to stand up to the county and PennDOT and advocate for preservation. If qualified firms are hired, this bridge can very likely be rehabilitated to provide decades of additional service life for a cost far less than it would cost to demolish and replace the bridge.
Above: Historical photo showing a previous bridge in Saegertown. This was an extremely rare Post truss.
Information and Findings From Pennsylvania's Historic Bridge Inventory
Discussion of Bridge
The 1900, pin connected, single span, 206'-long, Pennsylvania thru truss bridge is supported on ashlar abutments with wingwalls. The polygonal upper chords are built up box sections and the sub-ties are eye bars. The bridge is distinguished as an early example of its type and design. It is the oldest remaining Pennsylvania thru truss highway bridge in northwestern Pennsylvania, and only one other example in western Pennsylvania has an earlier construction date. The bridge is historically and technologically significant.
Discussion of Surrounding Area
The bridge carries 1 lane of a 2 lane road over a stream at the west edge of Saegertown borough. At the east end is a T intersection with SR 6 and a late 20th century commercial strip mall. To the west is a wooded area with scattered, undistinguished early and mid 20th century houses. The setting lacks the cohesiveness or significance of a potential historic district.
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes
Coordinates (Latitude, Longitude):
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