4 votes

Butler Bridge


General View From East Portal, Looking West

Photo taken by Historic American Engineering Record

View photos at Library of Congress

BH Photo #218535


Pratt truss bridge over Housatonic River on Butler Road in Stockbridge
Stockbridge, Berkshire County, Massachusetts
Open to pedestrians
Built 1881-82
- George S. Morison of New Bedford, Massachusetts (Engineer)
- J.H. Burghardt & Co. (Masonry)
- Morison, Field & Co. (Ironwork)
Wrought-iron, pin-connected Pratt truss
Unique "suspended" design with top chords bearing on the substructure.
Length of largest span: 87.9 ft.
Total length: 91.9 ft.
Deck width: 15.4 ft.
Eligible for the National Register of Historic Places
Also called
Lester Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+42.28683, -73.33230   (decimal degrees)
42°17'13" N, 73°19'56" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
18/637494/4682969 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Inventory number
BH 49913 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • April 16, 2017: New photos from Chester Gehman
  • January 22, 2017: New photos from Chester Gehman
  • May 29, 2014: Updated by Chester Gehman: Changed Design to "Bedstead Truss"
  • October 25, 2011: Added by James Baughn

Related Bridges 

  • Fosnaugh Bridge (Same design) - Borneman's 1879 Patent Low Suspension Bridge.


  • HAER MA-115 - Butler Bridge, Spans Housatonic River on Butler Road (North Glendale Road), Stockbridge, Berkshire County, MA
  • Chester Gehman - gehmanc2000 [at] yahoo [dot] com


Butler Bridge
Posted May 30, 2014, by Matt Lohry

This is seemingly highly uncommon in pony truss configurations like this, but it's much more common in deck trusses, particularly approach spans as on the BNSF's Rock Island Bridge:


The deck is on top of the structure rather than passing through it, but all in all, both structure types appear to be constructed to handle loads in exactly the same manner. Very cool to see this in a pony truss!

Butler Bridge
Posted May 30, 2014, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

I totally agree Nathan...definitely not a bedstead.

This looks similar to an August Borneman 1879 patent that I believe was referred to as a "Suspension Truss". Several of these were built in and around Fairfield County, Ohio but I'm not sure that any remain.

Definitely very rare and unique!

Butler Bridge
Posted May 29, 2014, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

This is a beautiful and fascinating bridge and one of the most interesting I have seen. However, I don't know that I would describe it as a bedstead. It appears to me to be the opposite of a bedstead truss. Instead of having a superstructure (end post) that extends below the roadway, reducing the size of the substructure, this bridge appears to have a superstructure that reduces the size of (actually eliminates) a traditional end post and instead has a substructure that extends above the deck to meet the bearing location which is well above the roadway.