3 votes

NS - Black Rock Bridge


Black Rock Tunnel Railroad Bridge -- October 27, 2008

Upriver side view morning sun

Photo taken by Raymond Klein


BH Photo #157861



Active railroad tunnel/bridge of the old Reading Railroad. Notable for being the second rail tunnel constructed in the United States and the oldest still in use. The tunnel/bridge and rail line are currently owned by Norfolk Southern.

Construction started in 1835 and was completed in 1837. Line first opened to traffic in 1838. When completed, the tunnel was 1,932 feet long, 19 feet wide, and had an interior height of 17 feet. During the tunnel's construction, shafts were sunk tangent to the tunnel cross section at 100-foot intervals and used to correct errors in the tunnel alignment. Each of the six shafts were 7 feet in diameter.

In 1858 Black Rock Tunnel was widened with track spacing increased from 4 feet to 6 feet. The widening of the Black Rock Tunnel was the first use of electric simulaneous detonation of multiple explosive charges.


Closed-spandrel concrete arch bridge over Schuylkill River on railroad
Phoenixville, Chester County, Pennsylvania, and Montgomery County, Pennsylvania
Bridge carries the former Reading Railroad across the Schuytlkill River then immediately enters the Black Rock Tunnel
- William Hasell Wilson (Civil Engineer, Reading RR)
- Norfolk Southern Railway (NS)
- Reading Railroad (RDG)
Closed-spandrel concrete arch
Also called
Reading - Black Rock Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+40.14804, -75.51902   (decimal degrees)
40°08'53" N, 75°31'08" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
18/455792/4444317 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
120 ft. above sea level
Inventory number
BH 44339 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • November 20, 2011: Updated by Curtis Lee: Added essay description; other minor updates
  • July 23, 2010: Updated by D. Thomsen: Added Schuylkill River category.
  • March 17, 2010: New photo from Raymond Klein
  • March 14, 2010: New photo from Raymond Klein
  • March 13, 2010: Updated by Raymond Klein: Added two photos. Phoenixville to USGS. & City. Black Rock Tunnel Brige added to name
  • March 6, 2010: Added by Joshua Collins


  • Joshua Collins - Bigjc1979 [at] aol [dot] com
  • Raymond Klein - Bookshelfthe [at] msn [dot] com
  • D. Thomsen - dcthomsen [at] comcast [dot] net
  • Curtis Lee - clee47ford [at] yahoo [dot] com