An average country Pennsylvania road was once turned into an exciting attraction with this small six panel Pratt through truss bridge. The bridge retained a wooden deck but sadly, the original railings had been replaced with modern metal guardrails. Otherwise however, the bridge retained good historic integrity. The beautiful plaques that its builder had placed proudly atop the portals of this bridge proclaimed that this bridge was built by the Penn Bridge Company of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. In other words, this bridge was a bridge built by a Pennsylvania company for Pennsylvania and was an outstanding monument to Pennsylvania's iron and steel heritage. It was a significant example of a bridge built by this interesting Pennsylvania bridge builder that managed to build a fair number of bridges in the region, while operating out of a very small bridge shop in Beaver Falls. In addition to its heritage value, the bridge came with all the things that typically make pin-connected truss bridges so beautiful: delicate appearance, intricate geometric art formed from both the truss itself and its built-up member and bracing with lattice and v-lacing, all topped off with a beautiful builder plaque.
The historic bridge was located on a quiet rural road. A mere mile to the south, a major state highway provided for the needs of most traffic in this area including trucks. The Average Daily Traffic (ADT) on this bridge was only 250 in 2010, and predicted to rise only slightly to 311 by 2032. Both values are well below what AASHTO defines as a Very Low Volume Road. In short, this was a road that would be well-served by a rehabilitated metal truss bridge like this one. Such a rehabilitation project could likely have been completed for less than the cost of demolition and replacement. What then, was the fate of this historic bridge? Demolition and replacement, of course! With a bridge like this with such great preservation potential on a quiet road joining the staggering number of historic metal truss bridges that Pennsylvania has demolished since the turn of the 21st Century it often seems like the only thing that Pennsylvania and Preservation have in common is the same first letter!
The structure that replaced the historic truss bridge has the appearance of a slab of concrete. Words fail to describe how ugly it is. As such, a comparison photo is shown below to best illustrate the extreme level of ugly. It is actually appropriate that the replacement bridge is ugly. If beauty had been desired, the historic bridge should have been preserved. The ugly bridge is an accurate display of what was important to decision-makers in Pennsylvania in 2010, who obviously did not care about beauty or history in the Commonwealth at that time. To have tried to make a replacement bridge of this type portray any of the beauty that the historic bridge had would have been insulting to the memory of the historic bridge. Indeed putting any decoration on a bridge like this would be like putting perfume on a skunk. It wouldn't help.
Information and Findings From Pennsylvania's Historic Bridge Inventory
Discussion of Bridge
The 1895, pin connected, single span, 93'-long, Pratt thru truss bridge is supported on concrete abutments with wingwalls. The only modifications to the traditionally composed bridge appears to be the ca. 1985 placement of beam guiderails, steel curbs, and an asphalt-filled steel pan deck. Crawford County is rich in pin connected, metal truss bridges. A total of 35 ranging in date from 1870 through the early 20th century remain in the county population. This bridge, one of three in the county fabricated by the Penn Bridge Company or its predecessor, stands out as a complete, documented example of its type and design. It is historically and technologically significant.
Discussion of Surrounding Area
The bridge carries 1 lane of a 2 lane road over a stream in a wooded area with scattered 20th century residences that lacks the cohesiveness of a potential historic district.
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes
Original / Full Size Photos
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Mobile Optimized Photos
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