The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has plenty of interesting and historic bridges. While the state hosts a large number of covered bridges, there are a good number of historic iron truss bridges that can be found as well. By happenstance, I found the Hares Hill Road Bridge in Chester County while driving around the county this past summer. Also known as the Silver Bridge, this bridge was built in 1869 and spans over the scenic French Creek in East Pikeland Township between Kimberton and Phoenixville at a length of 105 feet. But the bridge's age isn't what makes it unique.
The Hares Hill Bridge was built by the Moseley Iron Bridge and Roof Company of Boston, Massachusetts and is a wrought iron bowstring bridge. The bridge was designed by Thomas Moseley, who held patents on wrought iron bridges going back to 1857. The bridge is one of the earliest examples of a bowstring truss bridge, a type of bridge that rapidly came and went into fashion, briefly becoming popular during the years following the Civil War. Bowstring truss bridges are rare enough today, and it is possible that the Hares Hill Bridge may be the last of its kind. The bridge is also among the oldest metal bridges of any design remaining in North America. As a result, the historic significance of the Hares Hill Bridge may not have a similar comparison to other small highway bridges within the United States of America.
The bridge should have a good future ahead of it. There was a project that took place in 2018 to allow the rehabilitation of the Hares Hill Road Bridge by reconstructing the damaged and deteriorated wingwalls, reconstructing the stone masonry parapets with reinforced concrete, and installing brown guiderail to protect the blunt ends of the parapets. A concrete strip on the bridge deck has also been installed to allow for easier crossing by cyclists.
There is a pull-off at the south end of the bridge if you want to check out the bridge, or perhaps to fish or enjoy the nearby French Creek Trail. This made it easy to explore the Hares Hill Road Bridge in all of its glory.
|The Hares Hill Road Bridge crosses French Creek, part of the Pennsylvania Scenic Rivers System.|
|Side profile of the Hares Hill Road Bridge and related stone masonry work.|
|Examining the wrought iron work along the bridge.|
|Wading in the French Creek Bridge to get all of the good bridge pictures.|
|Bridge plaque commemorating the commissioners and contractor at the time of the original construction of the Hares Hill Road Bridge in 1869.|
|Bridge plaque honoring the bridge masonry rehabilitation in 2018.|
|A parting shot as I get ready to bid the Hares Hill Road Bridge adieu.|
How to Get There:
Sources and Links:
Bridgehunter.com - Hares Hill Road Bridge
HistoricBridges.org - Hares Hill Road Bridge
The Mercury - Hares Hill Road bridge re-opens in East Pikeland
(August 20, 2018)