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Wiley's Bridge

Wiley's Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: December 10, 2011 and October 21, 2013

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Bowers Road (TR-748) Over Maiden Creek
Location
Rural: Berks County, Pennsylvania: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1883 By Builder/Contractor: Penn Bridge Company of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
1942
Main Span Length
200 Feet (61 Meters)
Structure Length
202 Feet (61.6 Meters)
Roadway Width
17.4 Feet (5.3 Meters)
Spans
1 Main Span(s)
NBI Number
6722807499591

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

This bridge's future is at risk!

Bridge Status: This highly rare and significant historic bridge is slated for demolition with no replacement bridge planned!

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

The Penn Bridge Company was a noteworthy bridge builder in Pennsylvania in the late 19th Century. Early examples from the 1880s, like this bridge, often display some unusual details particularly the use of two pins at the top chord  and end post connections. This bridge is one of the only known surviving examples of a Whipple truss built by this company. The bridge also is noteworthy for its numerous intact ornate embellishments, including decorative cast iron elements on the portal bracing.

In July 2013, it was announced that this bridge would be demolished for $390,000 by Berks County despite the fact that the bridge displays no evidence of being in imminent danger of collapse, and despite there being no replacement bridge planned. The county had earlier planned to spend $1,000,000 to rehabilitate the bridge for vehicular use, but for some reason they only would do that if the township would take ownership of the bridge afterwards, and the township would not agree. There is nothing more wasteful of money and devastating to our nation's transportation heritage than to demolish a historic bridge that is not in the way of a replacement bridge and is not in imminent danger of collapse. Why would anyone want to spend hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to achieve no result other than to deprive a nation of a beautiful historic bridge? It would be far better to preserve this bridge for pedestrian use. Perhaps the $390,000 of demolition funds would be enough to make some minor repairs to keep this bridge able to support the light weight of pedestrian usage. Even fencing the bridge off to all traffic and leaving it standing as is would be a better option than demolition. At least then, this beautiful historic landmark would still be standing and could be viewed by people.

Berks County has several historic covered bridges, and they have all been rehabilitated and preserved. Why is this extremely rare iron Whipple truss deserving of anything less? The fact is that it is not, and it should be preserved, just like these covered bridges.

Information and Findings From Pennsylvania's Historic Bridge Inventory

Discussion of Bridge

The one span, 202' long, pin connected double intersection Pratt thru truss bridge was built in 1883 by the Penn Bridge Works. It is supported on stone abutments. There have been some modifications and strengthenings to the trusses, but they retain their integrity of design and workmanship. The bridge is an early example of a relatively rare truss design, and it is historically and technologically significant.

Discussion of Surrounding Area

The bridge carries a 2 lane road over a stream in a rural area with modern houses and the Blue Falls Grove beyond the southeast quadrant. The grove is a picnic area with pavilions. It appears to date to the early 20th century.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes

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Photo Galleries and Videos: Wiley's Bridge

 
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Sunny Day Bridge Photo-Documentation
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Foggy Morning Bridge Photo-Documentation
Original / Full Size Photos
A collection of overview and detail photos. 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
Foggy Morning Bridge Photo-Documentation
Mobile Optimized Photos
A collection of overview and detail photos. 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: Wiley's Bridge

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