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Williams Road Bridge

Shorts Bridge

Williams Road Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber

Bridge Documented: July 2004 and August 2010

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Williams Road (TR-627) Over Sugar Creek
Rural: Venango County, Pennsylvania: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1884 By Builder/Contractor: Samuel P. White of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
73 Feet (22.3 Meters)
Structure Length
75 Feet (22.9 Meters)
Roadway Width
15 Feet (4.57 Meters)
1 Main Span(s)
NBI Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
View Information About HSR Ratings

Bridge Documentation

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

View Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) Documentation For This Bridge

HAER Data Pages, PDF

This bridge is a Pratt through truss, and is extremely significant because it uses Phoenix Columns. The Williams Road Bridge does not look like a traditional Phoenix column truss bridge like those built by Dean and Westbrook of New York for example. Instead, the Williams Road Bridge has its own extremely unusual design that does not use Phoenix's patented connections, and has vertical end posts. The very lightweight portal bracing is also extremely bizarre, composed of two channels with unusual rods between them. Two very lightweight angles also branch off of this to form the bracing knees. The bridge uses plate-like eyebars for the bottom chord, a design of eyebar that was common on the bowstring truss bridges that were popular during the 1870s. The first panel of bottom chord also has corrugated style lacing (sometimes called ribbon lacing). The top chord is for the most part a traditional built-up beam of two channels with cover plate, but the underside has lattice with each lattice section being separated by a narrow batten. The battens are bars of the same size as the lattice bars. This lattice/batten detail is very unusual. Because this bridge not only uses Phoenix columns, but is also presumed to be the only bridge in existence with all these unusual details and design, the bridge is among the most significant historic bridges in Pennsylvania.

The bridge was built in 1884 as the South Park Street over French Creek in Franklin. One span from that bridge was salvaged and relocated here to Williams Road in 1912.

Large i-beams have been added to the bridge to help support the bridge. Although perhaps visually unsightly, they do not appear to have altered the original materials or design of the bridge, and as such they do not diminish the historic significance of this bridge. Indeed, these beams have likely strengthened the bridge allowing it to continue to serve traffic, and they also help protect the bridge's trusses from collision damage.

Information and Findings From Pennsylvania's Historic Bridge Inventory

Discussion of Bridge

The ca. 1880 bridge is a rare example of a pin connected Pratt thru truss bridge fabricated with Phoenix columns. It does not have the Phoenix Iron Co.'s patented connecting pieces, indicating that the columns were ordered from Phoenix but assembled into a bridge with local thinking about connections. A simple sleeve with pin plates has been used for both upper and lower panel point connections with those for the upper ones inside the built up upper chords. The bridge appears to be unaltered, and it is an important early example of truss bridge technology. It reflects the period of experimentation as reflected in the idiosyncratic details. The bridge may be unique. There is no makers plaque.

Discussion of Surrounding Area

The bridge carries a 2 lane unimproved township road over a stream in a rural area of active farms.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes

This bridge is tagged with the following special condition(s): Phoenix Columns


Photo Galleries and Videos: Williams Road Bridge

View Photo Gallery
2010 Bridge Photo-Documentation
Original / Full Size Photos
A collection of overview and detail photos, taken August 2010. 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
2010 Bridge Photo-Documentation
Mobile Optimized Photos
A collection of overview and detail photos, taken August 2010. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
2004 Bridge Photo-Documentation
A collection of overview and detail photos, taken Summer 2004. 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
View Video
Three Cars Crossing
Full Motion Video
Streaming video of the bridge. Also includes a higher quality downloadable video for greater clarity or offline viewing.


Maps and Links: Williams Road Bridge

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