This first mystery bridge of 2020 presents us with a black and white photo of a bridge from a bygone era. Tammy Frank provided this to Workin Bridges and needs your help in finding some information on it. It’s a photo of a Lattice pony truss bridge, located in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. Judging by the look of the car crossing it, it appears that the photo was taken between 1920 and 1925. The bridge itself has welded connections but it appears the truss style is bedstead Howe Lattice, one of the rarest truss designs built during that time because of the popularity of the other trusses (Pratt, Parker, Warren, Pennsylvania, Baltimore, etc.) Therefore that date of construction is around 1890-1910. The bridge is long gone, probably replaced 40-50 years ago.
The question is, what else do we know about the bridge? In particular, where in Beaver County, was this structure located?
Any information can be sent via mail but you can also post on the Workin Bridges website, where this pic can be found. Whatever is found, will be added to the bridge’s portfolio.
Thank you for your support and happy bridge and infohunting! 🙂
The first pic of the week since the move is actually a throwback to last year’s trip to the US. During a week-long stay in Pittsburgh visiting friends and doing some activities, we ran across the first of two bridges, spanning the tracks of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad at West Park. The two spans are nearly identical: Warren pony trusses built in three sets of ten panels (the middle one used to divide the street), each having V-shaped alternating vertical beams and vertical connections. Each were built in 1903 by the Fort Pitt Bridge Works Company in Pittsburgh. The only difference is the fact that they are located 400 feet from each other- one crossing at Ohio Street and this one at Ridge Avenue. Sadly, both spans have been closed for over a decade and were scheduled to be removed at the time of the visit. Yet during the visit in 2018, the two structures were still standing- rather untouched except by nature and walkers who can climb over or pass through the barriers to get to the nearby Children’s Museum on the east end. As both bridges are still standing as of present and are in a park setting, a word of advice to the City of Pittsburgh: If you are cash-strapped and are struggling to catch up on the infrastructural woes (and there are still some since the visit), why not rehab the bridge and make one crossing for cars and another for recreational purposes? It’s affordable. It can generate tourism- especially if you want to add plaques, picnic areas and the like. And it would solve the problem of forcing drivers to take a long detour, which is costly- both financially as well as for the environment. As we’re looking for ways to green up our planet and reduce carbon dioxide levels, it is something to think about.
Author’s note:This is the first podcast since the move and features all the events that happened over the past 2-3 weeks. The most current version of Newsflyer (for the week of August 5th, 2019) will follow.
143-year old historic viaduct, one of the highest in the country is being removed after new replacement span opens.
LETCHWOOD STATE PARK, NY (USA)- The Portage Viaduct at Letchwood State Park was one of the most important attractions in the state. Hundreds of thousands come to Letchwood State Park annually to see a spectacular site- an 820-foot long combination iron and steel viaduct with a height of over 300 feet towering over the falls of the Genessee River. The bridge used to serve Erie Railroad until it was acquired by first Conrail and later, its owner, Norfolk Southern. After 143 years in service, the National Register-listed bridge is coming down. Work has begun to remove the structure, piece by piece, beginning with the railbed, and then dismantling it down to the foundation. The project is expected to be completed by this summer.
This comes after a replacement structure, located 75 feet south of the structure, was open to rail traffic in December. The new bridge, a Warren deck arch bridge with riveted connections and made of heavy steel, was a necessity as the old structure was no longer able to carry heavy rail traffic. Because of heavy traffic combined with shale mining nearby, the contract was let in 2014 to build the new structure which would replace the historic bridge upon its opening. It took two years to build the bridge.
The historic Portage viaduct is actually the third sturcture in the history of the crossing. According to a small essay posted on bridgehunter.com by Sherman Cahal:
“The Erie Railroad completed a wooden crossing of the Genesee on August 16, 1852 at a cost of $175,000. At 234-feet-high and 800-feet-long, with 13 stone piers, it was the largest wooden bridge in the world.”
“The Erie Railroad moved to quickly replace the wooden bridge with an iron and steel structure after it burned in 1875. A contract for a wrought iron bridge was let to the Watson Manufacturing Company of Paterson, New Jersey on May 10, just four days after the fire. Construction began on the second crossing on June 8, 1875, opening to traffic on July 31.”
The third structure came in 1903 but it was only in the form of replacing the iron parts with that of steel, thus making it a full-fledged rehabilitation and renovation of the bridge. The McClintic-Marshall Company of Chicago and Pittsburgh were the contractors for the 1903 viaduct, the same company that built the 1848 High Bridge in New York City (the oldest known bridge in the city), the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit and the Beaver Falls Railroad Bridge in Pennsylvania. The (still) current structure has a combination of deck Pratt truss and girder spans, supported by tall, layered rectangular towers with X-lacing. The connections with the skeletal towers are riveted while the trusses and the lacings are pin-connected. The bridge (and the park itself) were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the 1970s. The newest bridge that is replacing this one, a product of the American Bridge Company as well as Mojeski & Masters, is the fourth structure on the Northfolk & Southern Route.
Unlike the Kate Shelley Viaduct in Boone County, Iowa, there was no interest in converting the historic viaduct into a walkway pier- neither from the railroad nor from the state park officials, which led to the decision to include the demolition of the bridge in the contract for the new bridge. The historic viaduct in Iowa has been out of service since 2008 when a new one south of the structure was open to traffic and plans to make the bridge an observation point and/or monument has been on the table since then. But the historic Portage Viaduct received no such interest from park and railroad officials because of the importance of progress due to shale mining.
While the new Portage Bridge may eventually replace the historic variant as the new scenic place of photography at Letchwood, there are many who still feel attached to the older bridge and will definitely take the opportunity to photograph the bridge was it comes down, bit by bit….
Australian Traveller that loves to "Roam" our globe, creator of ENDLESSROAMING.COM sharing the experience through word and photography. Currently residing in my home of Newtown Sydney but hope to be back on the road late 2020. Feedback / questions are more than welcome, happy travels