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Zorger Road Bridge

Zorger Road Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber

Bridge Documented: July 14, 2008

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Zorger Road Over West Branch Susquehanna River
Rural: Clearfield County, Pennsylvania: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
By Builder/Contractor: Unknown

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
173 Feet (52.7 Meters)
Structure Length
180 Feet (54.9 Meters)
Roadway Width
12 Feet (3.66 Meters)
1 Main Span(s)
NBI Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

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

This is a railroad bridge located in its original location, which has served vehicular traffic ever since the railroad line at this location was converted into a vehicular roadway. The railroad bridge and line was originally a New York Central Railroad line. The conversion to a roadway may have occurred in 1920, because that is the date the National Bridge Inventory lists for a construction date. The bridge's original construction date is unknown, but the Historic Bridge Inventory lists a ca.1880 estimated date which seems appropriate given the design and details on the bridge.

The bridge is extremely significant as a very rare example of a railroad Whipple truss, of which a tiny number remain today. It is also a large and visually impressive example, with very tall trusses and an extensive system of bracing and trusses. Extensive v-lacing and lattice on the numerous built-up beams of this bridge add greatly to the significance of the bridge. The members on the bridge are massive due to the span length and the fact it was once a railroad bridge.

Although paint is not present on the bridge, as a wrought iron bridge located on a dirt road away from corrosive salt, the bridge retains excellent structural integrity for its age, and is a bridge that could easily be restored if it becomes insufficient in its current condition. This massive and important historic bridge, serving an extremely quiet rural dirt road is listed in a long-range bridge replacement plan. So while it will be around for a number of years, it would appear that they are already planning to demolish the bridge rather than simply rehabilitate it. Given its massive configuration and good integrity, this bridge does not need to be replaced, it would only need a rehabilitation. In addition, given its significance, the bridge should actually receive an extremely high preservation priority.

Information and Findings From Pennsylvania's Historic Bridge Inventory

Discussion of Bridge

The ca. 1880, single span, 180'-long, pin-connected double intersection Pratt (Whipple) thru truss bridge is supported on ashlar abutments. Designed to railroad specifications, the bridge consists of 10, 18'-long panels. It has eye bar diagonals that extend across two panels, lower chords eye bars, and built up upper chords and verticals. It is one of nine Whipple truss bridges identified by the survey, and one of two in Clearfield County (17 7222 0565 0005 is the other). The Whipple design was patented by American engineer Squire Whipple in 1847, and it was widely adopted by the railroad industry between 1865 and 1885. The bridge is historically and technologically significant as a complete and rare surviving example of the design.

Discussion of Surrounding Area

The bridge carries a 1 lane road over a stream in a rural area of active farms. TR 420 [Today known as TR 421] is a former railroad right of way converted to a vehicular roadway. The short line was a branch of the New York Central Railroad. It served primarily as a logging railroad, connecting to towns in southern Clearfield County, such as New Millport and Kerrmoor.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes


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