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Tanners Falls Bridge

Tanners Falls Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber

Bridge Documented: April 15, 2011

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Tanners Falls Road (PA-4017) Over West Branch Dyberry Creek
Location
Rural: Wayne County, Pennsylvania: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1885 By Builder/Contractor: Morse Bridge Company of Youngstown, Ohio

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
46 Feet (14 Meters)
Structure Length
131 Feet (40 Meters)
Roadway Width
14 Feet (4.27 Meters)
Spans
3 Main Span(s)
NBI Number
63401700102711

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Bridge Documentation

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

To describe this bridge as unique is quite an understatement. Located where a beautiful waterfall (Tanners Falls) is formed among the rocky outcroppings, the rare example of a multi-span pony truss crosses the creek at a surprising height for a pony truss on slender stone piers that appear to be dry laid (no mortar). In addition to its multi-span configuration, the bridge has additional significance. The bridge is slightly curved, something very unusual for bridge built in the 19th Century. The spans themselves are not curved, each of the three spans is simply oriented at a slightly different angle. The bridge is also noteworthy because each span appears to have been built at a different date. The eastern span once had a plaque (stolen, when HistoricBridges.org documented the bridge), which credited the Morse Bridge Company with building it in 1885. The historic bridge inventory then says that "The center span is attributable to the same fabricator and date of construction based on the similarity of details." While the center span has some similar details, there are also some important differences. The center span is more traditional in design. Unlike the eastern span, the  central span has cover plate on top of the top chord and end post, instead of the unusual use of v-lacing as seen in the eastern span. In addition, the eastern span has large cast iron washers on the ends of the pins with a bolt that goes through the center of the pin, a detail associated with the Morse Bridge Company. The central span lacks these and has more traditional nuts that screw onto the end of a threaded pin. These are considerable design differences. If both were built in the same year by the same company, it does not seem likely that two substantial different design details would be found. Thus, it seems likely that the Historic Bridge Inventory is incorrect and that the center span may have been built in a different year by a different company. Because the center span's details are more standardized, it is likely that the eastern span is actually the oldest span. Finally, the western span of the bridge is the easiest span to discern as being different. With riveted connections, and traditional design details, the span is clearly newer than the other two spans. It may date to the first couple dates of the 20th Century.

It is unknown why this bridge apparently has three different span ages. It may be that the entire bridge was originally like the eastern span, and at some point the center span was damaged in some manner requiring its replacement, with a similar scenario playing out for the western span at another later date. Another unusual possibility, while also just pure speculation, is that all three spans were brought to this location in the early 20th Century to span the crossing, with the oldest two, and perhaps all three span being reused from other crossings being replaced.

Information and Findings From Pennsylvania's Historic Bridge Inventory

Discussion of Bridge

The 3-span, 131' long metal truss bridge is composed of two pin-connected wrought-iron Pratt pony truss spans that rank among the earliest of their type and design in northeastern Pennsylvania. The eastern span has a builder's plaque that lists the date of construction as 1885 and the builder as the Morse Bridge Company of Youngstown, Ohio. The center span is attributable to the same fabricator and date of construction based on the similarity of details. The eastern span is complete and unaltered, and the center span is complete except for the replacement of rivets with bolts at the floorbeam connections. Traditionally composed pin-connected Pratt truss spans, such as these, were the standard bridges of the last two decades of the 19th century, and these two spans are historically and technologically significant as early surviving examples in the regional population. It is historically and technologically significant. The westernmost span is not original to the bridge.

Discussion of Surrounding Area

The bridge carries an unimproved road over a stream in a sparsely developed forested setting on state game lands. The bridge is upstream of a waterfall. Stone foundation ruins of a mill and dam are visible downstream.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes

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Photo Galleries and Videos: Tanners Falls Bridge

 
View Photo Gallery
Bridge Overview
Original / Full Size Photos
A collection of overview photos that show the bridge and all three spans as a whole and general areas of the bridge. This gallery offers photos in the highest available resolution and file size in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Eastern Span Details
Original / Full Size Photos
Eastern span photo-documentation. A collection of detail photos that document the parts, construction, and condition of the bridge. This gallery offers photos in the highest available resolution and file size in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Middle Span Details
Original / Full Size Photos
Middle span photo-documentation. A collection of detail photos that document the parts, construction, and condition of the bridge. This gallery offers photos in the highest available resolution and file size in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Western Span Details
Original / Full Size Photos
Western span photo-documentation. A collection of detail photos that document the parts, construction, and condition of the bridge. This gallery offers photos in the highest available resolution and file size in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Bridge Overview
Mobile Optimized Photos
A collection of overview photos that show the bridge and all three spans as a whole and general areas of the bridge. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Eastern Span Details
Mobile Optimized Photos
Eastern span photo-documentation. A collection of detail photos that document the parts, construction, and condition of the bridge. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Middle Span Details
Mobile Optimized Photos
Middle span photo-documentation. A collection of detail photos that document the parts, construction, and condition of the bridge. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Western Span Details
Mobile Optimized Photos
Western span photo-documentation. A collection of detail photos that document the parts, construction, and condition of the bridge. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer

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Maps and Links: Tanners Falls Bridge

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