BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 228

Our next Pic of the Week presents us with our first non-snow-covered bridge photo, as we chme into spring, even though in many places in North America and Europe, it’s anything but that, especially with mountains of snow and the potential for flooding. But not to worry, there are two bright sides to this story: 1. Many regions that were parched with drought last summer are getting the much-needed snow to fill up lakes, reservoirs and rivers and 2. Not all things last forever as my prediction will be that the last cover of snow will disappear by June, unless you are in the mountains. 🙂

Our first spring photo comes from the still down due to renovations website, It’s that of a rare bridge we don’t see much of anymore, and it’s one that is in danger of demolition and replacement.

The Runks Bridge is a two-span, pin-connected Pratt through truss bridge with Town Lattice portals and heel bracings. The 270-foot long bridge, which spans Augwick Creek, was built in 1889 by the Pittsburgh Bridge Company, alongside another bridge builder, Nelson and Buchanan of Chambersburg. Both these bridge companies belong to the Pittsburgh School of Bridge Builders, where dozens of bridge building companies in and around the Pittsburgh and Beaver Falls area prospered in bridge building during the last three decades of the 19th Century. Its demise came when some of the builders were bought out and owned by the American Bridge Company beginning in 1901, forcing many steel plants to shut down. Decline in the demand for steel combined with stiff competition resulted in the collapse of the steel industry by the 1960s. The two aforementioned companies that built Runks Bridge belonged to that group and eventually became part of the AmBC Conglomerate.

The Runks Bridge is in danger as there have been talks about tearing this structure down. Although nothing is set in stone yet, the bridge currently carries a weight limit of three tons- just enough for light traffic to use it. Eventually, something will need to be done with the bridge. Given the topography of the bridge’s setting, it would make sense to either rehab the structure for continued use or convert it into a pedestrian bridge with a new one built alongside the old one. Whether this would be realized or if it makes sense to relocate it into town, depends on the funding that is available on the local, state and national levels. Given its National Register nomination status, there should be more possibilities to restore the bridge since it’s one of the rarest of its kind left in Pennsylvania, let alone in the United States. But do the locals know that? We’ll have to see.

Information on the Runks Bridge can be found here.