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

Ghost Town Tuesday; Vineland, Florida; the town killed by Disney

Vineland is a small ghost town located in southwest Orange County, Florida near the junction of Florida State Road 535 and Interstate 4.  Vineland is somewhat unique due to it largely being squeezed out of existence by Lake Buena Vista which is the company town where Disney World is located. Vineland was founded in the late 1800s as Englewood.  The town name of Englewood changed to Orange Center in 1911 before finally assuming the name Vineland in 1924.  Much like the rest of Orange County the community of Vineland was centered around Citrus Grove.  In the case of Vineland said orange groves were centered around Ruby Lake. The end of Vineland came as the Disney Corporation began purchasing parcels of citrus grove land to build Lake Buena Vista.  Vineland fell into a sharp decline in the 1960s but the community managed to continue to exist to modern times.  Much of the street grid of Vineland still exists east of FL 535 but most of the original structures are either gone or falle

Old NY 10 and Goodman Mountain in the Adirondacks

  Old highway alignments come in all shapes and sizes, as well as taking some different forms after their lifespan of serving cars and trucks has ended. In the case of an old alignment of what was NY 10 south of Tupper Lake, New York, part of the old road was turned into part of a hiking trail to go up Goodman Mountain. At one time, the road passed by Goodman Mountain to the east, or Litchfield Mountain as it was known at the time. As the years passed, sometime around 1960, the part of NY 10 north of Speculator became part of NY 30, and remains that way today from Speculator, past Indian Lake and Tupper Lake and up to the Canadian Border. At one time, the highway was realigned to pass the Goodman Mountain to the west, leaving this stretch of road to be mostly forgotten and to be reclaimed by nature. During the summer of 2014, a 1.6 mile long hiking trail was approved the Adirondack Park Agency to be constructed to the summit of the 2,176 foot high Goodman Mountain. For the first 0.9 mi

Oregon State Highway 58

  Also known as the Willamette Highway No. 18, the route of Oregon State Highway 58 (OR 58) stretches some 86 miles between US 97 north of Chemult and I-5 just outside of Eugene, Oregon. A main route between the Willamette Valley region of Oregon with Central Oregon and Crater Lake National Park, the highway follows the Middle Fork Willamette River and Salt Creek for much of its route as it makes its way to and across the Cascades, cresting at 5,138 feet above sea level at Willamette Pass. That is a gain of over 4,500 in elevation from where the highway begins at I-5. The upper reaches of OR 58 are dominated by the principal pinnacle that can sometimes be seen from the highway, Diamond Peak, and three nearby lakes, Crescent, Odell and Waldo (Oregon's second largest lake). OR 58 is chock full of rivers, creeks, mountain views, hot springs and waterfalls within a short distance from the highway. OR 58 was numbered as such by the Oregon State Highway Department in 1940. OR 58 is a del