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Barto Hollow Road Bridge

Barto Hollow Road Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber

Bridge Documented: May 29, 2010

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Barto Hollow Road (TR-650) Over Muncy Creek
Location
Rural: Lycoming County, Pennsylvania: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1898 By Builder/Contractor: Unknown

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
1958
Main Span Length
115.2 Feet (35.11 Meters)
Structure Length
118 Feet (35.97 Meters)
Roadway Width
15.4 Feet (4.69 Meters)
Spans
1 Main Span(s)
NBI Number
41723106500110

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Bridge Documentation

This bridge no longer exists!

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

This historic bridge was demolished and replaced!

This bridge is a traditionally composed example of a once-common structure type that is today rapidly becoming rare, especially in Pennsylvania where bridges of this type are being demolished frequently. The bridge does have an unusual portal bracing design, with a lattice mesh composed of angles instead of bars. This technique was rarely used in the United States although in Ontario, Canada lattice railings composed of angles are fairly common. The use of angles provides additional strength in the lattice. The portal bracing also has attractive curved knees that have decorative circle cutouts. These circle-shaped cutouts are somewhat similar to those seen on the Cunningham Road Bridge, which was built by Nelson and Buchanan of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. Further, although the plaques are missing, the plaque scars on the bridge show the plaque had an unusual skewed shape similar to those seen on bridges built by Nelson and Buchanan such as the approach spans for the Shanley Road Bridge. While this is no definitive proof that the Barto Hollow Road Bridge is a Nelson and Buchannan bridge, it certainly is possible that this could be the builder.

The bridge has been altered with  post-tensioning, but this is a supplemental and reversible alteration. The original bridge material is largely unaltered. There is severe section loss in several bottom chord connections, and other areas of section loss such as at the railing bracket attachments to the vertical member. Despite this deterioration, the bridge could still be relocated and restored for pedestrian use. Restoration would require dismantling the bridge and doing restoration of individual bridge parts in a shop setting.

The seven panel truss is composed as follows: Endposts: and top chord: back-to-back channels with v-lacing and cover plate, 12 inches wide and 8.5 inches deep, bottom chord: up-set eyebars, diagonal members: up-set eyebars, varying in size from 2 to 2.5 inches wide, vertical members: back-to-back channels with v-lacing on each side, 12 inches wide varying in depth from 5 to 6 inches, struts: two pairs of riveted angles with v-lacing between, portal bracing: two pairs of riveted angles with lattice mesh (composed of angles rather than the traditional bars) and decorative curved knee bracing, floorbeams: rolled American Standard Beams, railing: replaced with wire cable, deck: open metal grate on metal deck stringers.

Unfortunately, this bridge will not be preserved, and is instead only the latest of countless historic metal truss bridge demolition victims in Pennsylvania. The historic bridge will be demolished and replaced by an ugly slab of concrete. Perhaps preservationists should have snuck out in the middle of the night and covered the metal trusses with wooden planks, to make the bridge look like a covered bridge. Then, it probably wood have been preserved. Pennsylvania preserves all its covered bridges regardless of historic integrity or significance, while preserving next to none of its metal truss bridges, again, regardless of significance. This discrimination against particular historic bridge types such as the metal truss bridge is unacceptable.

Comments on National Register Eligibility

The Pennsylvania Historic Bridge Inventory found this bridge, a 100+ year old pin-connected truss bridge from the late 1800s, ineligible for the National Register! This is a ridiculous assessment. HistoricBridges.org believes that in the 21st Century, all surviving pin-connected truss bridges that retain the majority of their original material and design should be considered eligible. The rarity of them on today's roads demands no less. Further, the need to have these bridges considered eligible is even greater in Pennsylvania because of the rapid rate at which they are being demolished. Claims in the Historic Bridge Inventory that there are tons of older and better historic bridges are extremely outdated. There has been a massacre of pin-connected truss bridges in Pennsylvania since the Historic Bridge Inventory was conducted. Many of those rarer and less altered bridges no longer exist. Because the stupid choice was made to demolish those better bridges, there is no choice now but to work with those examples that remain, even if they are later examples and more heavily altered.

This bridge has been altered, but regardless the majority of the original material and design is still there. Further, the post-tensioning alterations to this bridge are reversible alterations and did not remove or damage original bridge material.

Some might argue that considering a bridge like this eligible would diminish the significance of having a bridge considered eligible, and would diminish the recognition of the importance of those older and more intact bridges that are currently considered eligible. HistoricBridges.org understands that it is important to distinguish altered and later examples of  pin-connected truss from earlier and less altered bridges. However the National Register's eligible/ineligible system is an all or nothing system, there is no "semi-historic" rating for example. To write a bridge like this one off as completely not historic, in other words "not eligible" is insane given the age of the bridge and the population of such bridges remaining. That being the case, there is no alternative but to consider the bridge eligible, and so eligible the bridge should be.

 Regardless, its not like the Barto Hollow Road Bridge is even an extremely late example of a pin-connected truss bridge. It is a pre-1900 truss bridge. Yes, there was a standardization in truss design by 1890, but a true "late" example of a pin-connected truss bridge would at the earliest be a post 1905 truss. Further, the portal bracing design is attractive and unusual, and might be the work of a specific bridge builder.

Information and Findings From Pennsylvania's Historic Bridge Inventory

Discussion of Bridge

The one span, 118' long, pin-connected, Pratt thru truss bridge is supported on ashlar abutments. The trusses are traditionally composed with built up box sections for the upper chords and inclined end posts. The verticals are laced, toe-out channels, and the diagonals and lower chords are eye bars. The portal brace has a lattice fill, and the knee braces have decorative punch work. The metal grid deck and stringers were placed in 1958. Rusted and holed sections were observed. The bridge has no innovative or distinctive details, and it represents the standardization of design that came to dominate pin connected bridges after about 1895. It is located in a region with over 130 metal truss bridges. Neither the bridge nor its setting is historically or technologically significant.

Discussion of Surrounding Area

The bridge carries one lane of a township road over a stream in an agricultural setting. There are tilled fields at all quadrants. It is south of US 220. There are no buildings visible from the bridge.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: No

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Photo Galleries and Videos: Barto Hollow Road Bridge

 
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Driving South Across The Bridge
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Streaming video of the bridge. Also includes a higher quality downloadable video for greater clarity or offline viewing.
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Driving North Across The Bridge
Full Motion Video
Streaming video of the bridge. Also includes a higher quality downloadable video for greater clarity or offline viewing.

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