This bridge is an exceedingly rare example of a bridge built by the little-known Horseheads Bridge Company. It has been associated with this company because it was built during their years of operation and has unique knee braces that consist of decorative fans of twisted metal bars. This detail is also seen in the Depot Street Bridge, associated with Horseheads Bridge Company. The Hallton Bridge is one of the last surviving examples of the Horseheads Bridge Company.
The Hallton Bridge also is noteworthy for several distinctive details usually found in older truss bridges from the 1880s. The eyebars for the hip verticals have an unusual shape at the bottom end where the bottom of the eye is squared off, while the top of the eye is sloped. The bridge uses cast iron washers on the pins. The attachments for the overhead lateral bracing rods to the top chord are an unusual sleeve-shaped design. The portal bracing lattice bars extend slightly above the upper angles of the portal bracing, to give a decorative frill. Additionally, the two lattice bars that extend from the inner ends of where the knee brace meets the portal bracing are of an enlarged size, apparently a detailed observance of increased stresses at that point in the portal bracing. Unusual hooks at the vertical members grasp the channels of the lattice railing. The railing channels also have an unusual splice detail that might be an attempt to provide an expansion joint for the railing system. All of these details are unusual and as such the demolition of this bridge may mean that some of these details are lost forever, by not being found on any other surviving bridge.
HistoricBridges.org was lucky enough to scan and digitize some photos and materials related to the little-known Horsehead's Bridge Company, thanks to the generosity of Ronald Ballard who made these materials available. Some of the materials date to 1901. At that time, the American Bridge Company had technically bought the company, but in the early years of the American Bridge Company, some of the purchased companies continued to operate under their names and using their original bridge shops. The materials are mostly related to Issac Ballard and his bridge crew, who worked for Horseheads Bridge Company. It is not known if this particular crew was involved with the Hallton Bridge. Either way, these materials are a rare look at this bridge company.
Above: Company letterhead.
Above: Photo showing bridge shop. Written on back of photo: Jesse - His mother and wife. Wife - Hattie Stage 1-4-1884 - 1-8-1964. Mother - Lena Lewis Ballard. Feb 1, 1863 - 1936. Father - Issac Ballard July 13, 1856 - 1927. Inside Horsehead Bridge Co.
Above: Horseheads Bridge Company bridge crew. Written on back of photo: Issac Ballard and His Bridge Crew - (Man on left)
Above: Workers tending what appears to be a boiler, likely for a hoist system also visible in the photo. Written on back of photo: Jess Ballard and (on right) Bill Bryen. Horseheads Bridge Co Horseheads Years 1902 NY.
This bridge survived the 2004 historic truss bridge Armageddon that occurred in Elk County as two rare multi-span through truss bridges, the Shanley Road Bridge and the Arroyo Road Bridge were demolished.
This remaining bridge, on the road that leads from Arroyo Road to Shanley Road, managed to make it to 2012 before being targeted for reduction to scrap metal and replacement with an ugly slab of concrete that some would call a "bridge."
This bridge is a perfect example of why the United States method of funding bridge project is a failed and wasteful system. State and local agencies are rewarded with free money from the Federal government if the state or local agency ignores the maintenance of their bridges until the sufficiency rating drops to below 50%. This discourages proper maintenance, repair, and rehabilitation. Further, rehabilitation funds are much more limited from the Federal government, especially for bridges whose sufficiency rating is below 50%. Even worse, federal assistance for maintenance and repair of bridges are essentially non-existent. Employing techniques of maintenance and repair on bridges saves taxpayers money in the long run, reduces bridge closures and weight restrictions, and preserves historic bridges. It is the logical course of action, but thanks to this broken Federal funding system, countless millions of tax dollars are being wasted perhaps on a daily basis.
A bearing for this bridge was observed to be completely buried in dirt that had been in place so long, healthy grass was growing. This indicates a lack of even the simplest forms of maintenance on the bridge. The process of cleaning a bearing is so simple that an elementary school student could understand the concept. First, a shovel is used to dig out and clear away the dirt. A brush could also be used to assist in clearing away dirt as well. Then, the area is washed with water. The washing process could be completed by taking a bucket of water, filling it with water from the river, and dumping the contents on the bearing to clear away the dirt. This is not a complex task, and it can be completed without hiring a contractor or consulting engineer, and it will extend the life of the bridge. There is absolutely no excuse for not carrying out maintenance that is this basic and simple.
Looking at Elk County, and indeed so many other places in Pennsylvania, it often seems that the only thing that Pennsylvania and Preservation have in common is the same first letter! To be fair, there are a small number of preserved historic metal truss bridges in Pennsylvania, but the reality is that despite having one of the largest and richest collection of historic metal truss bridges, a distinction Pennsylvania is rapidly losing, fewer historic metal truss bridges are preserved in the Commonwealth than in nearly any other state with a sizable population of metal truss bridges. The amount of historic metal truss bridge preservation and demolition in Pennsylvania is completely unacceptable and it is hoped that Pennsylvania will change it ways and join states like Indiana, New Jersey, Maryland, and Michigan and preserve a significant number of historic metal truss bridges before it is too late.
The below discussion from the Historic Bridge Inventory was made at a time when the bridge had been closed to traffic due to deterioration, which was repaired in 1997.
Information and Findings From Pennsylvania's Historic Bridge Inventory
Discussion of Bridge
The 1898, single span, 129'-long, pin-connected Pratt thru truss bridge is supported on ashlar abutments. It has eye bars and rods for the tension members, and built-up compression members. Rolled floorbeams with U-shaped hangers support timber stringers and a wood deck. The stringers and deck in one panel are failed, accounting for the bridge's closure. The failure does not affect integrity of original design. The bridge is finished with lattice railings and lattice portals with built-up curved knee braces with twisted bars in a fan shape. According to the township supervisor, the 1898 date of construction was recorded from a bridge plaque before the plaque was lost. The builder is undocumented. The bridge is a long example of its type and design with it original decorative elements. Pin-connected truss bridges are increasingly rare, especially in this region of the state, with fewer than 20 documented examples from ca. 1880 to 1910 surviving in PADOT Dist. 2-0. This is one of the most complete and earliest to document the all standard details that came to characterize the pin-connected Pratt truss type/design in the 1890s. It is historically and technologically significant.
Discussion of Surrounding Area
The single lane bridge carries an unimproved road over a stream in a forested setting with scattered late 20th century vacation homes in the Allegheny National Forest. The area does not have historic district potential. The bridge is currently closed.
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes
This historic bridge has been demolished. This map is shown for reference purposes only.
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