Skip to main content

Inwood Iron Bridge - Lebanon County, Pennsylvania


While the number of historic iron truss and metal truss bridges has been dwindling over the years due to several factors, occasionally a bridge will be preserved for its historical value. Such is the case of the Inwood Iron Bridge, which was built in 1899 and located near Lickdale, Pennsylvania. The Inwood Iron Bridge was fabricated by the Pittsburgh Bridge Company and erected by Nelson and Buchanan of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. It is historically significant as one of the oldest surviving Pennsylvania thru truss highway bridges in Pennsylvania. Early examples of Pennsylvania (Petit) thru-truss highway bridges from before the 20th Century were not common as the design was more often used for railroad bridges. Only a handful of such roadway bridges have been identified around Pennsylvania, making the Inwood Iron Bridge more historically significant.

The 151-foot-long Inwood Iron Bridge crossed Swatara Creek and was located not far from Swatara State Park in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania. Closed to traffic in 2006. After over 100 years of use, time and wear had taken their toll on the bridge, and the bridge had deteriorated to a point where it was no longer structurally sound to carry traffic. As the closing of the Inwood Iron Bridge had left only one method of egress for residents living along the east bank of the Swatara Creek, there had been considerations of rehabilitating the bridge. However, local officials noted the need for emergency vehicles, buses, and other heavy vehicles at this crossing and looked for ways the bridge could be rehabilitated to accommodate heavier vehicles. For the bridge to be able to accommodate heavier load capacities, it was found that many of the truss members needed to be replaced.

It was determined that the historic bridge could not be rehabilitated to meet the unique needs of modern-day traffic without significantly altering the bridge's character. Also, the cost of rehabilitation of the bridge to accommodate heavier loads exceeded the cost of a new structure. Fortunately, the Pennsylvania State Department of Transportation has a program in place that focuses on the reuse of historic metal truss bridges as pedestrian or light vehicular bridges on trails or in parks. Given the Inwood Iron Bridge's historic significance as one of the new remaining Pennsylvania thru-truss highway bridges, a strong case was made for its preservation. The land for a park was found about a quarter mile downstream from the bridge's original location on Iron Bridge Road thanks to a land sale of only $2.00 by a couple of residents. Thus, a small park was created for the bridge and efforts to move the bridge to the new location started in 2019.

In July 2019, the Inwood Iron Bridge was lifted off its original abutments and then disassembled. The individual bridge members were repaired or replaced at another location. After rehabilitation was completed and a fresh coat of paint was given to the bridge, the bridge was then reassembled at its new location at the Inwood Iron Bridge Park. A substructure, parking spaces, a short walking trail, and informational plaques were installed so the bridge park could be opened in 2020.

I visited the Inwood Iron Bridge Park in January 2004 during a trip through this area of Pennsylvania. You can easily walk along the bridge, or even under the bridge. Efforts were made for the bridge to be accessible for all ability levels. I feel that much consideration and care was given to restoring the bridge and honoring its historical significance. You can combine a visit to the Inwood Iron Bridge with another bridge nearby that was relocated due to its historical significance, the Waterville Bridge. This was a great pit stop for the explorer and bridge hunter in me.

Taking a walk down the restored Inwood Iron Bridge.

Checking out some of the unique features of this Pennsylvania thru-truss bridge.

Side profile of the Inwood Iron Bridge.

Taking a look underneath the Inwood Iron Bridge.

Bridge plaque on top of the bridge stating who had built the bridge.

The Inwood Iron Bridge at its former location upstream on the Swatara Creek. This bridge could be viewed from PA 72 when I took this picture in April 2009.

How to Get There:

Sources and Links:
Pennsylvania State Preservation - Bridge Preservation and Education: A Site Visit to the Inwood Iron Bridge
McCormick Taylor - Inwood Iron Truss Bridge Rehabilitation and Relocation


Popular posts from this blog

The history of US Route 80 and Interstate 8 in California

The historic corridor of US Route 80 and Interstate 8 through the borderlands of southern California share a largely mutual history.  Both highways originated in the city of San Diego and departed the state at the Colorado River into Yuma, Arizona.  Both highways share numerous famous geographical components such as the Mountain Springs Grade and Algodones Sand Dunes.  This article serves as a comprehensive history of the combined US Route 80/Interstate 8 corridor in California from the tolled stage route era of the nineteenth century to the development of the modern freeway.   The blog cover photo features US Route 80 along the Mountains Springs Grade through In-Ko-Pah Gorge during late 1920s.  This photo is part of the Caltrans McCurry Collection. Part 1; the history of US Route 80 and Interstate 8 in California US Route 80 and Interstate 8 in California share a largely mutual history.  The backstory of both highways is tied heavily to the corridors of the Old Spanish Trail, Legisl

The Central Freeway of San Francisco (US Route 101)

The Central Freeway is a 1.2-mile elevated limited access corridor in the city of San Francisco.  As presently configured the Central Freeway connects from the end of the Bayshore Freeway to Market Street.  The Central Freeway carries the mainline of northbound US Route 101 from the Bayshore Freeway to Mission Street. The Central Freeway has origins with the establishment of Legislative Route Number 223 and is heavily tied to the history of the once proposed Panhandle Freeway.  The Central Freeway between the Bayshore Freeway and Mission Street was completed during 1955.  The corridor was extended to a one-way couplet located at Turk Street and Golden Gate Avenue in 1959 which served to connect US Route 101 to Van Ness Avenue.  The Central Freeway was damaged by the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake and has since been truncated to Market Street.   The Central Freeway as pictured on the blog cover was featured in the May/June 1959 California Highways & Public Works.  The scan below is fro

The Bayshore Freeway (US Route 101)

The Bayshore Freeway is a 56.4-mile component of US Route 101 located in the San Francisco Bay Area.  The Bayshore Freeway connects the southern extent of San Jose to the Central Freeway in the city of San Francisco.  The corridor was originally developed as the Bayshore Highway between 1923 and 1937.  The Bayshore Highway would serve briefly as mainline US Route 101 before being reassigned as US Route 101 Bypass in 1938.  Conceptually the designs for the Bayshore Freeway originated in 1940 but construction would be delayed until 1947.  The Bayshore Freeway was completed by 1962 and became mainline US Route 101 during June 1963.   Part 1; the history of the Bayshore Freeway Prior the creation of the Bayshore Highway corridor the most commonly used highway between San Jose and San Francisco was El Camino Real (alternatively known as Peninsula Highway).  The  American El Camino Real  began as an early example of a signed as an Auto Trail starting in 1906.  The era of State Highway Mainte