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Perry Highway Bridge

Iron Bridge

Perry Highway Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: July 1, 2006 and 2013

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Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Perry Highway (US-19) Over Neshannock Creek
Rural: Mercer County, Pennsylvania: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1928 By Builder/Contractor: Unknown
Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
128.0 Feet (39 Meters)
Structure Length
133.0 Feet (40.5 Meters)
Roadway Width
23 Feet (7.01 Meters)
1 Main Span(s)
Inventory Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

This bridge no longer exists!

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

As of 2013, this bridge is currently being replaced and will be demolished by PennDOT when its replacement is complete!

This steel truss bridge is locally known as the "Iron Bridge" although it is made of steel. It is not known if the name came from this bridge and calling it "Iron" instead of steel is merely the result of locals who did not care about the difference between steel and iron and merely wanted a name that called attention to this bridge's obvious metal construction, or whether this name's history goes back far enough that it actually refers to a previous bridge that existed before this existing steel truss bridge replaced it. Such a previous bridge might have indeed been a cast and/or wrought iron truss bridge.

This bridge is a riveted through truss that is traditionally composed for a 1920s bridge and includes members and chords that are built-up beams with v-lacing, lattice, channel, cover plate, and other traditional components. In more recent history this bridge was the victim of a somewhat unsightly and substantial alteration that was aimed at increasing the vertical clearance for the bridge. The sway bracing of the bridge was removed (leaving only the struts, lateral bracing, and some of the portal bracing) and galvanized steel bracing knees were added to the outside of the bridge at each panel point to compensate for the reduced interior bracing. Between the unusual placing of this bracing and the fact that it is galvanized while the rest of the bridge is painted, this alteration sticks out and is extremely obvious. Despite these alterations, this bridge still has heritage value since it displays a truss bridge structure type and historic technologies like rivets, built-up beams, v-lacing, and lattice, none of which are part of modern construction. These elements also combine to make an attractive structure. The oddity of the added bracing knees does not prevent the bridge from having aesthetic value. Unfortunately, PennDOT in general does not care about things like beauty and heritage. As such in 2013 a replacement bridge was begun next to this bridge and this historic bridge will be demolished when the replacement bridge is complete. The replacement bridge will be extremely ugly and will have no heritage value.

Information and Findings From Pennsylvania's Historic Bridge Inventory

Discussion of Bridge

The 1928, riveted, single span, 133'-long, Pratt thru truss bridge is supported on concrete abutments with flared wingwalls. The heavy trusses are composed of built up members. Connections were changed in 1975 from rivets to high strength bolts at some lower panels points and at the battens of the lower chords. The bridge has no innovative or distinctive details. It is a late example of a common technology used in Pennsylvania since ca. 1890 and built with frequency by both county and state highway bridge builders in the 20th century. It is not historically or technologically significant. Nor is the highway noteworthy. US 19, the Perry Highway connected Pittsburgh and Erie on a meandering route that passed through only one major town along the way. The route was a minor carrier of north-south traffic.

Discussion of Surrounding Area

The bridge carries a 2 lane road in a mixed use setting of scattered commercial and residential buildings that lacks the cohesiveness of a potential historic district. Most buildings date from the late 20th century.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: No

Information From www.mercercotrussbridges.com Demolition Mitigation Website

Discussion of Bridge

When built, the bridge was an example of a standard-design, heavily constructed, Pratt Through Truss bridge. Subsequently, the upper lateral braces were moved to the exterior of the bridge, to help the bridge retain stiffness and to increase roadway clearance. Riveted connections were also added to high-strength bolts at some lower panel points.


Photo Galleries and Videos: Perry Highway Bridge


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Maps and Links: Perry Highway Bridge

This historic bridge has been demolished. This map is shown for reference purposes only.

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Bridgehunter.com: View listed bridges within 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) of this bridge.

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HistoricBridges.org Bridge Browser: View listed bridges within 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) of this bridge.

HistoricBridges.org Bridge Browser: View listed bridges within 10 miles (16 kilometers) of this bridge.

2021 National Bridge Inventory: View listed bridges within 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) of this bridge.

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