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Valley Crossroad Bridge

Valley Crossroad Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: March 22, 2012

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Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Valley Crossroad (Farmers Valley Road, TR-385) Over Potato Creek
Rural: McKean County, Pennsylvania: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1888 By Builder/Contractor: Variety Iron Works of Cleveland, Ohio
Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
144.0 Feet (43.9 Meters)
Structure Length
146.0 Feet (44.5 Meters)
Roadway Width
15.7 Feet (4.79 Meters)
1 Main Span(s)
Inventory Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

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

This is one of the most important historic bridges in this region of Pennsylvania which is noted for its striking lack of surviving metal truss bridges which is much less than most of the other regions of Pennsylvania. The Historic Bridge Inventory identified the bridge as historic due to the small population of metal truss bridges in the region. However, the inventory failed to identify the builder of the bridge, which is not listed on the existing bridge plaques. The bridge contains the details of the Variety Iron Works of Cleveland, Ohio. These details can be found in the Maple Rapids Road Bridge and/or the Iron Bridge Road Bridge. The struts on the bridge are very unusual and have a distinctive shape of an extremely shallow triangle, a detail found in a number of Variety Iron Works bridges. The lattice a-frame design of the portal bracing was also used by the company on a number of bridges. One element of the bridge that at a quick glance might serve to confuse is the railing. The bridge has an unusual crosshatch style railing that is normally only found on bridges built by the York Bridge Company of York, Pennsylvania. However, this bridge was built in 1888, and the York Bridge Company did not exist yet at that time. Furthermore, careful examination of the bridge reveals that although extremely old, these are not the true original railings of the bridge. Behind the crosshatch railings, an extremely lightweight pair of rods run along the length of the bridge; the original railing. These lightweight railings have been found on other Variety Iron Works Bridges. It is assumed that in the early 1900s, the crosshatch railings, presumably purchased from the York Bridge Company, were added to the bridge, to supplement the extremely lightweight original railings. The final piece of evidence is the builder plaque. Although no builder name is on the plaque, the plaque is a distinctive and unusually ornate design. Another plaque with this same design from another bridge actually has the Variety Iron Works name on it to confirm this. The plaque design appears to have been inherited by Variety Iron Works when they bought out Buckeye Bridge Works, which also used this exact same plaque design.

Only two other examples of the Variety Iron Works existed in Pennsylvania, and one is being demolished and replaced by PennDOT. Less than ten examples appear to survive nationwide. The preservation of each surviving example of this unusual bridge builder, which true to its name built all sorts of metal structures, should be considered absolutely essential.

This bridge's deck was being repaired when HistoricBridges.org documented the bridge. It has since reopened to light traffic.

Information and Findings From Pennsylvania's Historic Bridge Inventory

Discussion of Bridge

The single span, 146'-long, pin-connected Pratt thru truss bridge built in 1888 is supported by concrete abutments. The trusses are traditionally composed, with built up box section upper chords, channels with lacing verticals, and eye bar diagonals and lower chords. The oldest of nine remaining pin connected truss bridge in the county, and one of the oldest examples in PADOT Dist. 2-0 (northcentral PA), it is historically and technologically significant as a complete example of its type and design. The surviving bridge plaques atop the lattice portals give the date of construction but do not list a builder.

Discussion of Surrounding Area

The bridge carries 1 lane of a 2 lane road over a stream in a rural wooded setting that does not have historic district potential.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes


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Maps and Links: Valley Crossroad Bridge

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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 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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