Skip to main content

The National Road - Pennsylvania - Brownsville and Dunlap's Creek Bridge

From Searights Toll House, the National Road continues west towards the Monongahela River town of Brownsville.  Brownsville for many decades was a transportation and industry center.  Brownsville was the home to steamboat construction and a rail hub for the steel industry.  Like many cities and town's in what is now known as the Rust Belt, Brownsville saw a steady and dramatic population decline after the Second World War.  Brownsville's population peaked at just over 8,000 residents in 1940 to nearly a quarter of that today.  (The estimated 2016 population is 2,270.)

The vacant storefronts along Market Street in Downtown Brownsville.  (Brian Reynolds, 2002)
 The heart of Downtown Brownsville is known as "The Neck", and for years this flat stretch of land between the Intercounty and Lane Bane Bridges along Market Street was home to many professional businesses, banks, stores and shops, and more.  However, "The Neck" today is a skeleton of what it once was.  Many of the historic buildings with intricate architectural detail are boarded up and have been empty for many years.  Over the years, many proposals have come and gone to revitalize the city.  From riverboat gambling to pushing for the completion of the Mon-Fayette Expressway, Brownsville's residents and leaders hope to return the city to its former glory.

Brian Reynolds, 2002
Dunlap's Creek Bridge:


Older images of Dunlap's Creek Bridge (Courtesy of Bruce Cridlebaugh)
At the bottom of "The Neck" sits, the first and oldest cast iron bridge built in the United States.  Dedicated on July 4, 1839, this 80 foot bridge over Dunlap's Creek was built and designed by Captain Richard Delafield of the US Army Corps of Engineers.  Built by the US Government to stabilize the crossing that had seen three bridges destroyed since 1801, the bridge's cost was $39,811.63. (1)  This was one of the last major projects undertaken by the federal government before turning over control of the National Road to the states.  The bridge consists of "five parallel arches, each consisting of nine segments." (1)  Later as the canal and then the rail eras began to shape the nation, the bridge would sit virtually unused to heavy traffic until the automobile age.

Detail of the iron arch superstructure that supports the span. (Bruce Cridlebaugh)
Over the bridge's nearly 200 year old history, there have been many changes within Brownsville and the structures in its immediate vicinity.  As Brownsville grew with the spread of the coal and steel industries, many structures were built over Dunlap's Creek and were tied into the bridge.  This would make the bridge appear much shorter in length than it actually is.   In addition, the Dunlap's Creek Bridge has received numerous recognition and awards.  Beginning with its dedication as a National Historic Landmark in 1920, this old bridge has accumulated five historical and engineering awards.  Plaques have been placed on the very detailed railings touting the structure's accomplishments.

A great example of how some of the buildings along "The Neck" surround the bridge. (Bruce Cridlebaugh)
Site Navigation:
Sources & Links:

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Breezewood - The Rise and Decline of a Highway Rest Stop

It's the Pennsylvania Turnpike Interchange most people hate - and with a passion.  The Breezewood Interchange - a junction of two Interstates (70 & 76) that became complicated due to archaic rules, rural politics and power, and an unwillingness to change.  At its romanticized best, this small unincorporated community of under 100 residents is a reminder of travel days of the 1950s-1970s; at its worst, it is a gradually dying relic of old motels and services that drivers are forced to slow down and drive through on their way to bigger and more modern destinations.

The Breezewood Interchange is an exception to the rule in the Interstate Highway System.  Depending on your direction, Interstate 70 joins or leaves the Pennsylvania Turnpike (Interstate 76) here.  However, unlike nearly every Interstate junction in the United States - Interstate 70 must traverse on a roughly 1/4 mile stretch of US 30.  A four lane highway complete with traffic lights, center turn lanes to cross traffi…

Just a good old fashioned roadgeeking trip

2020 as we all know has been a year unlike any other.   A number of planned trips for my family and for work have obviously been shelved.   So what can cure that itch to get out and explore.  For me, it was a simple four and a half hour loop north of my home.  
This was for me a good old fashioned roadgeek trip - an explore trip on some roads I hadn't checked out before.  In addition to checking out a few towns along some roads I have been on.  No expectations but the hope of discovering some new things and learn about them.
Route: Local Roads to NC 3 , NC 801, US 601, US 64, NC 901, NC 115, local roads home.
Part of the goal for the trip was to hopefully get additional towns and communities for the Carolina Crossroads project.  Fortunately, the trip didn't disappoint.  For the entire set on flickr - head here.

Bear Poplar was one of the more interesting community names.  Just down the road from here was a nice surprise.  The Mount Ulla community barn quilt is posted on the side o…

Old US Route 99 in Goshen, Traver, and the Warlow Rest Area

This summer I had a look into the alignment history of US Route 99 through the Tulare County communities of Traver and Goshen.  The photo below is take from Camp Drive northbound in Goshen on what was US Route 99 until the early 1930s.



Part 1; the history of US Route 99 in Goshen and Traver

Goshen and Traver were both founded in 1872 as sidings of the Southern Pacific Railroad.  The Southern Pacific Railroad laid the groundwork for development of southern San Joaquin Valley.  Previous to the Southern Pacific Railroad travel via wagon or foot in Central California tended to avoid San Joaquin Valley in favor of the Stockton-Los Angeles Road.  The Stockton Los Angeles Road lied to the east of San Joaquin Valley in the Sierra Nevada Foothills and was less subject flooding.  Before the Southern Pacific Railroad most of San Joaquin Valley was a sparsely inhabited wetland which made travel by road difficult.  Goshen and Traver can along the Southern Pacific Railroad on the 1873 Ore…