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Birmingham Bridge


Photo taken by Jodi Christman on May 22, 2011


BH Photo #199665


Street View 

Debate on significance 

Written by Jodi Christman

Interestingly enough, in somewhat typical PENNDOT fashion, there is a disagreement about the significance of the Birmingham Bridge.
HAER describes the bridge’s significance: http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=pphhdatapage&fil...
“This single span pin-connected Pratt through-truss is unique for a Pratt truss in that the portals contain hip verticals that carry compressive stresses (hip verticals for the standard Pratt truss type carry tensile stresses only).”
On the flip side, PENNDOT notes in the PA Historical Bridge inventory, “The lower panel point has been changed significantly with the original hanger replaced with riveted connections to plates attached to the verticals. The floor beams appear to have been replaced when the connection was changed. The bridge is an altered example of a type and design that is well represented in the region and state. It is not historically or technologically significant because of the alteration to the lower panel points.”
Whatever camp you sit on you can no doubt appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of the portals at both ends of the bridge which feature decorative panels containing clover-leaf cutouts in the web section of the lateral bracing.
I should point out that the name of the road the bridge carries is called “Irish Flats” so one can assume the clover leaf cut-outs on the top chord might be related. Four leaf clovers represent good luck which might be why this forunate bridge is still standing.
Birmingham Bridge rests on abutments with wingwalls made of cut-stone sandstone also known as ashlar.
The bridge consists of compression members of steel channel sections and riveted lacing bars; and tension members of forged steel eyebars. A diagonal compression member extends from the junction of the lower chord and hip vertical to the main portal member. Steel I-beam floor beams and strings support the 3” thick plank on steel stringers and beams wooden deck.
Based on the inscription on the masonry abutments the bridge was built in 1898. This metal bridge replaced a wooden bridge constructed in 1852. When the through truss was built it included a pedestrian sidewalk on the downstream side but was later removed for reasons unknown.
Currently the bridge serves a single residence on the south side of the Little Juniata. The present owners are Blair and Huntingdon Counties (Blair County assumes actual responsibility for maintenance and both counties share cost equally). Bridge was sandblasted and painted in 1987.
Whether this bridge is considered significant is debatable, I for one am crossing my fingers in hopes that neither man nor Mother Nature remove this beautiful piece of work.


Through truss bridge over Little Juniata River on TR 535 (Irish Flats)
Blair County, Pennsylvania, and Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania
Open to traffic
Built 1898, Sandblasted and painted in 1987
- J.A. Patterson (Engineer)
- M.H. Stebbins (Contractor)
- Penn Bridge Co. of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania (Fabricator)
Pratt through truss
Span length: 145.0 ft.
Total length: 145.0 ft.
Deck width: 16.0 ft.
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on March 20, 1990
Also called
Huntingdon County Bridge #15
Blair County Bridge #48
Approximate latitude, longitude
+40.64910, -78.19905   (decimal degrees)
40°38'57" N, 78°11'57" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
17/736823/4503577 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Average daily traffic (as of 2016)
Inventory numbers
PA 07 7214 0512 3048 (Pennsylvania Bridge Management System number)
PANBI 05962 (Pennsylvania BRKEY bridge number on the 2011 NBI)
NRHP 90000400 (National Register of Historic Places reference number)
BH 30439 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection report (as of July 2016)
Overall condition: Fair
Superstructure condition rating: Fair (5 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Good (7 out of 9)
Deck condition rating: Good (7 out of 9)
Sufficiency rating: 44.5 (out of 100)
View more at BridgeReports.com

Update Log 

  • May 29, 2017: Updated by Christopher Finigan: Added category "Pin-connected"
  • June 9, 2012: Updated by Jodi Christman: Added Nat. Reg year & No. & other known names
  • May 23, 2011: New Street View added by J.P.
  • May 23, 2011: Essay added by Jodi Christman
  • May 22, 2011: Updated by Jodi Christman: Tweaked GPS



Birmingham Bridge
Posted March 26, 2018, by Joe Yoman (ponchoman49 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Thanks goodness it's on a dead end road. If it wasn't the "BUTCHER" of historical bridges PENNDOT would have needlessly destroyed it by now.

Birmingham Bridge
Posted May 23, 2011, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

PennDOT wouldn't know a historically significant bridge if it bit them in the A**!!!!!!!!!!

Birmingham Bridge
Posted May 22, 2011, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

This is a very unique bridge, enough so that it is HAER documented. HAER didn't offer much of an explanation for the unusual design, but either way it did catch their eye too (as well as mine). Sometimes I think there is history we don't know. Maybe there was a quarry or something on the other side long ago, and they needed a heavier bridge.

Birmingham Bridge
Posted May 22, 2011, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Nice bridge Jodi!

Has the look of a railroad span......until you look at the inside clearance.....which seems to be too low.

Am guessing the dead-end road is the only thing that has spared it from PennDOT's grimy paws.