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

Interstate 40 and the H-Bomb

Interstate 40 within California is entirely contained to San Bernandio County over a course of 155 miles from Interstate 15 in Barstow east to the Arizona State Line at the Colorado River.  Interstate 40 is aligned entirely in the Mojave Desert over the same general corridor established by US Route 66 and the National Old Trails Road.   Interstate 40 is known as the Needles Freeway and has an interesting backstory which included the prospect of the Bristol Mountains being excavated by way of nuclear blasts as part of Operation Carryall.   Part 1; the history of Interstate 40 in California The focus on this blog will be primarily centered around the construction of Interstate 40 ("I-40") within California.  That being said the corridor of automotive travel east of Barstow to the Arizona State Line was largely pioneered by the National Old Trails Road ("NOTR")   In April of 1912 the NOTR was organized with the goal of signing a trans-continental highway between Baltim

California State Route 232

This past month I drove the entirety of California State Route 232 in Ventura County. CA 232 is an approximately 4 miles State Highway aligned on Vineland Avenye which begins near Saticoy at CA 118 and traverses southwest to US Route 101 in Oxnard.  The alignment of CA 232 was first adopted into the State Highway System in 1933 as Legislative Route Number 154 according to CAhighways.org. CAhighways.org on LRN 154 As originally defined LRN 154 was aligned from LRN 9 (future CA 118) southwest to LRN 2/US 101 in El Rio.  This configuration of LRN 154 between CA 118/LRN 9 and US 101/LRN 2 can be seen on the 1935 California Division of Highways Map of Ventura County. 1935 Ventura County Highway Map According to CAhighways.org the route of LRN 154 was extended west from US 101/LRN 2 to US 101A/LRN 60 in 1951.  Unfortunately State Highway Maps do not show this extension due to it being extremely small. During the 1964 State Highway Renumbering LRN 154 was assigned CA 232.  Of n

California State Route 128

California State Route 128 is a 121 mile State Highway which spans from California State Route 1 at the mouth Navarro River eastward to Interstate 505 near Winters.  California State Route 128 is one of California's most underrated scenic State Highways which traverses; Mendocino County, Solano County, Napa County and Yolo County.  Presently California State Route 128 has 11 unconstructed miles which would connect it from Interstate 505 east to California State Route 113 in Davis.   Part 1; the history of the original California State Route 28 and California State Route 128 What became California State Route 128 ("CA 128") was announced in the   August 1934 California Highways & Public Works  as the original CA 28.    CA 28 in it's original definition was aligned from CA 1 near Albion east to US 40 near Davis.   CA 28 as originally defined was comprised of numerous Legislative Route Numbers ("LRN") which were adopted as follows: -  LRN 1  between McDona