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Hickory Bridge

West Hickory Bridge

Hickory Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: July 1, 2006

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
PA-127 (Fleming Hill Road) Over Allegheny River
Location
West Hickory: Forest County, Pennsylvania: United States
Structure Type
Metal 8 Panel Pin-Connected Pratt Through Truss, Fixed and Approach Spans: Metal Stringer (Multi-Beam), Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1896 By Builder/Contractor: Groton Bridge Company of Groton, New York

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
1945
Main Span Length
162 Feet (49.38 Meters)
Structure Length
695 Feet (211.84 Meters)
Roadway Width
14.8 Feet (4.51 Meters)
Spans
4 Main Span(s) and 1 Approach Span(s)
NBI Number
27012700100445

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Bridge Documentation

This bridge no longer exists!

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

View An Archived Discussion of This Bridge From Disappearing Bridges, a Website That No Longer Exists

This historic bridge was demolished by PennDOT, July 23, 2007

Technical Information

The Hickory Bridge was a four-span through truss. It included a concrete approach at the east end, which was newer than the truss spans, but still rather old, using an attractive concrete balustrade railing found on bridges built in times such as the 1930s in Pennsylvania. The bridge was supported by stone piers, with the exception of the westernmost pier, which had been replaced and was concrete. The sway bracing was latticed, and v-lacing was present on the bottom of the top chords. There was no v-lacing on vertical members, although the vertical members were built-up. The bridge retained original lattice guardrails, with no modern railings added. Historic integrity was excellent, in other areas, including no major alterations to rivets and web members and chords. Floor beams were original as well. The bridge also retained large, extremely ornate builder plaques, which credited the Groton Bridge Company. with building the bridge. Indeed, this bridge was one of the largest  and most important surviving examples of this prolific bridge company's work. This bridge was for a time a toll bridge when it was completed under the auspices of the Hickory Bridge Company, and reportedly also originally served rail traffic. To the left are images of one of the tokens that was purchased and used to pay for the bridge toll.

An Atrocity Against History and Beauty

It is bad enough to demolish a historic metal truss bridge. However, to demolish a historic truss bridge that is not even in the way of its replacement bridge is nothing more than an atrocity: the simultaneous wasting of taxpayer dollars and destruction of a historic structure with no reason for doing so. Of course, such atrocities are commonplace in Pennsylvania, a state that has (or had) one of the largest and richest populations of historic metal truss bridges in the country, yet also has the smallest number of such bridges in the country that are actually being restored and preserved. It often seems like the only thing that Pennsylvania and Preservation have in common is the same first letter. The Hickory Bridge was serving vehicular traffic when it was demolished. It was more than capable of standing for decades next to its replacement with no traffic traveling on it.

 However, the Hickory Bridge was more than just a historic bridge, it was a major contributing asset to what was once a pristine and breathtakingly beautiful river valley. The surrounding scenery at the Hickory Bridge helped improve and compliment the aesthetic qualities of this bridge, and the bridge in return complimented its surroundings.

PennDOT was required to make every effort to protect and preserve endangered species of mussels in the Allegheny River during the replacement of this bridge, which explains why this bridge was not demolished using explosives, and instead was cut apart and removed using cranes. PennDOT was not required however to protect and preserve an equally endangered historic resource, this four-span pin-connected metal through truss bridge. It is highly disappointing that disappearing man-made resources are not protected with the similarly powerful laws that protect disappearing plant and animal species. Both are valuable assets of our world. The cost of the great weakness present in current historic preservation policy has had a devastating, and irreversible effect on this nation's transportation heritage. It is imperative that lawmakers act to revise legislation before those historic bridges that are lucky enough to remain are lost forever as well.

Above: Today, all that remains of the bridge are a few substructure stones and the plaque, apparently on display at the Harmony Township building as shown in this photo. The back side of the plaque is shown in this photo. The front side displayed the bridge builder, Groton Bridge Company, which was uniquely notorious for using both sides of a bridge plaque. Photo Courtesy: Karla Beach, Harmony Township

A Scar on the Land

The removal of this bridge and construction of an ugly slab of concrete to carry traffic here has ruined the awesome beauty that could once be seen here. Prior to demolition, this location might have been a highly recommended destination for tourists to visit, with scenic river and heritage bridge combining to form a worthy stop on a trip. Now, there is no bridge, and the beautiful river valley is obstructed by a modern slab of concrete that does not blend in with the environment whatsoever. Anyone planning a trip who is interested to see both unspoiled natural beauty and history and culture is advised to look somewhere other than the Allegheny River. Here at West Hickory, long bridge and tall river valley combined to create a unique scene. The loss of the bridge's has left a scar on the Allegheny River valley that will be felt for generations to come. The documentation of the Hickory Bridge on this website will hopefully serve to show these future generations what their elders deprived them of. As much as future generations deserved to have this bridge for their enjoyment, now they deserve to know what was taken away from them, and that they might know who to hold accountable for this senseless and shortsighted destruction.

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Photo Galleries and Videos: Hickory Bridge

 
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Structure Overview
Original / Full Size Photos
A collection of overview photos that show the bridge as a whole and general areas of the bridge. 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
Structure Details
Original / Full Size Photos
A collection of detail photos that document the parts, construction, and condition of the bridge. 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
Structure Overview
Mobile Optimized Photos
A collection of overview photos that show the bridge as a whole and general areas of the bridge. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Structure Details
Mobile Optimized Photos
A collection of detail photos that document the parts, construction, and condition of the bridge. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Bridge Demolition
These photos document an atrocity, the removal of one of the finest historic bridges in Pennsylvania that was not in the way of its replacement bridge. This photo gallery contains a combination of Original Size photos and Mobile Optimized photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer

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