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Van Gorder Mill Road Bridge

Van Gorder Mill Road Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: July 3, 2006

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Van Gorder Mill Road (PA-2005) Over Slippery Rock Creek
Rural: Lawrence County, Pennsylvania: United States

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
137 Feet (41.8 Meters)
Structure Length
277 Feet (84.4 Meters)
Roadway Width
15 Feet (4.57 Meters)
2 Main Span(s)
NBI 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

This historic bridge was demolished and replaced by PennDOT in 2009!

This bridge was nearly identical to the two main spans of the great Shanley Road Bridge, and was actually built in the same year by the same company! The two bridges demonstrated how bridge builders often relied on the same general bridge design for different locations, an early example of standardization in bridge construction. Regarding the main spans, the only thing different between the two bridges (excluding repairs/modifications to the original design) is that the underside of the top chord on Van Gorder Mill Road had battens instead of v-lacing.

This bridge was one of the few remaining multi-span pin-connected highway truss bridges in the region. It carried a road that saw small volumes of traffic. Rehabilitation of this bridge would have been a logical and cost-effective course of action if carried out in a comprehensive manner by qualified firms. However, PennDOT, as it so often does, chose to reduce this beautiful historic bridge to scrap metal and erected an ugly modern bridge in its place. Had this bridge been a wooden covered bridge, it likely would have been preserved, for all covered bridges in the United States are automatically preserved without question. Had this bridge been located in a state like Indiana or New Jersey, where a serious look is actually taken at the feasibility of preservation, it likely would have been preserved. But a metal truss bridge in Pennsylvania? This bridge became the latest in a string of historic metal truss bridges that could and should have been preserved that were instead demolished. If preserved, the bridge could have been a beautiful monument to Pennsylvania's rich iron and steel heritage. Instead, the bridge is a reminder of a shortsighted and wasteful decision that destroyed history and wasted taxpayer dollars.

Information and Findings From Pennsylvania's Historic Bridge Inventory

Discussion of Bridge

The two-span, 277'-long, pin-connected Pratt thru truss bridge is supported on an ashlar substructure with concrete caps. It was built in 1891 by the Pittsburgh Bridge Co. It has the distinctive connection of the floorbeams above the lower chords that are typical of the fabricator. There are minor alterations including steel cables added at to the lower chords, rivets replaced by bolts, and there are welded repairs to some lower panel points. The bridge is a documented and early example of an important technology, and it has unusual details such as the floorbeam connections to the truss. It is historically and technologically significant.

Discussion of Surrounding Area

The bridge carries a two-lane road over a stream in a sparsely developed, wooded setting. There are undistinguished and altered early-20th century vernacular houses and some post-World War II houses. The area does not have historic district potential.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes


Photo Galleries and Videos: Van Gorder Mill Road Bridge

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Maps and Links: Van Gorder Mill Road Bridge

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

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