The historic bridge inventory quite clearly made a horrible mistake in suggesting that the Pittsburgh Bridge Company built this bridge, and as such perhaps if they arrived at the builder that HistoricBridges.org did, then the bridge would have been listed eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Not that being listed eligible would have saved this bridge from its wasteful and unnecessary demolition, but it would have at least given it a sliver of the honor it deserved. By finding it ineligible, the Historic Bridge Inventory allowed Pennsylvania to demolish and replace this bridge without conducting a Section 106 Review process to consider alternatives to demolition. Since this bridge displayed the unique details of the Morse Bridge Company, and was one of the few examples of this builder's work in Pennsylvania, this bridge should have been eligible.
Any bridge historian familiar with the Morse Bridge Company would immediately recognize this bridge as having the details of a Morse Bridge Company bridge. Consider the Six Mile Creek Road Bridge of Michigan and, the Johnson Slagle Road Bridge of Ohio. Looking at the overall appearance of the two bridges, the Johnson Slagle Road Bridge is more like the Stoughton Road Bridge, but both examples display some unifying details. For one, the portal knee bracing on these three bridges are all identical. This portal's knee bracing design an unusual design that is somewhat unique to the Morse Bridge Company. Pittsburgh Bridge Company never used anything remotely like it. Another thing that these bridges all have uncommon is one very strange characteristic, which is a lack of sway bracing or struts. Morse instead used heavier-than-usual lateral bracing to make up for it. Note that Stoughton Road in 2006 did have struts, but it was actually pipe that had been added at some point. The bridge originally does not appear to have had any struts, which is likely why it was added at some point. The lack of struts or sway bracing probably had some county or PennDOT engineer on edge, who would have demanded that it be added. All known Pittsburgh Bridge Company bridges had struts or sway bracing, this was instead a detail that Morse Bridge Company was noted for. Finally, a very unique feature of these three bridges are the cast iron washer caps used to fasten the pin connections on the bridge. Again, this is something that Morse Bridge Company used on most of their bridges, but was not found on Pittsburgh Bridge Company bridges.
While the floor beam connections may have been done like the Pittsburgh Bridge Company as the Historic Bridge Inventory states, there are far too many other things on this bridge that are attributable to Morse Bridge Company products (and were not a part of typical Pittsburgh Bridge Company bridges) that the evidence is quite clear. The Historic Bridge Inventory even got the date of the bridge wrong, stating it was built ca. 1890. Although the National Bridge Inventory often has unreliable dates for bridges, the 1885 date it gave for this bridge seems on target.
Information and Findings From Pennsylvania's Historic Bridge Inventory
Discussion of Bridge
The one span, 132'-long, pin-connected Pratt thru truss bridge is supported on stone abutments with wingwalls. It is dated to ca. 1890. The floorbeams are above the eye bar lower chords and are framed into the lower portion of the verticals that are toe-out channels with laced webs. It is attributed to the Pittsburgh Bridge Co. based on the floor beam connection detail. 37 2005 0040 0000 [Van Gorder Mill Road Bridge] built in 1891 has the same detail and is documented to the fabricator. There are many alterations including replacement of an inclined end post, and welded cover plates on the upper chords. The bridge is not as complete as the other example in the county. Because of the alterations, the bridge is not historically or technologically significant.
Discussion of Surrounding Area
The bridge carries one lane of a two-lane road over Slippery Rock Creek in a rural area of active farms and 20th century houses. There are some cottages, including a modern one, near the bridge. The area does not appear to 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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