Rating:
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Mead Avenue Bridge

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Photos 

Jack E. Boucher, Photographer, July 1971. Aerial Reconnaissance Ii, Erie Railway Survey

Photo taken by Historic American Engineering Record

View photos at Library of Congress

Map 

Street View 

Description 

Vertical endpost Whipple truss (two span.) using Keystone Columns built to the Jacob Linville's patent 50,723. Linville was President of Andrew Carnegie's Keystone Bridge Co. It is likely that the bridge superstructure was entirely manufactured by Keystone (not just the namesake columns) and erected by Penn Bridge Co.

In 1907 the bridge began carrying trolley traffic but was deemed insufficiently strong to carry the load. Due to a political disagreement as to what type of bridge should be used in its replacement, a 'temporary' reinforcement in the form of a Baltimore through truss was built around the existing Whipple in 1912. The 'temporary' reinforcement stood for over 102 years.

Facts 

Overview
Two-span Whipple through truss bridge over French Creek on Mead Avenue in Meadville
Location
Meadville, Crawford County, Pennsylvania
Status
In storage or disassembled
Future prospects
Superstructure in storage. Pier and abutments used as fill for new bridge.
History
Built 1871; additional trusses added 1912
Builders
- Penn Bridge Works of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania
- Rodgers Brothers Co.
- T.B. White & Sons of New Brighton, Pennsylvania
Design
Whipple through truss with supplemental Baltimore through truss attached
Dimensions
Length of largest span: 128.9 ft.
Total length: 264.1 ft.
Deck width: 19.4 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 8.2 ft.
Recognition
Eligible for the National Register of Historic Places
Approximate latitude, longitude
+41.63778, -80.16278   (decimal degrees)
41°38'16" N, 80°09'46" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
17/569728/4609898 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Meadville
Inventory numbers
PA 20 7301 8820 3000 (Pennsylvania Bridge Management System number)
PANBI 13530 (Pennsylvania BRKEY bridge number on the 2011 NBI)
BH 42769 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection (as of 01/2007)
Deck condition rating: Poor (4 out of 9)
Superstructure condition rating: Critical (2 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Serious (3 out of 9)
Appraisal: Structurally deficient
Sufficiency rating: 0.0 (out of 100)
Average daily traffic (as of 2006)
10,000

Update Log 

  • January 24, 2016: Updated by Art Suckewer: Updated status and corrected builder
  • March 24, 2015: Updated by Art Suckewer: updated status, future prospects and description
  • March 4, 2014: Updated by Nathan Holth: Added current planned demolition date.
  • October 29, 2010: New photos from Jason Smith
  • August 13, 2010: New Street View added by Jason Smith
  • January 4, 2010: Updated by Nathan Holth: Updated technical facts for bridge.
  • August 12, 2009: New photos from James Baughn
  • June 12, 2009: Added by James Baughn

Sources 

Comments 

Mead Avenue Bridge
Posted January 26, 2016, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

Nathan,

I've been doing some homework on the family and companies and have some ideas, including the founding date of T.B. White's company but would like get more evidence before posting, as the HAER Williams Road Bridge data you posted doesn't yet make sense to me. Why would Samuel White (Penn Bridge Co.) build a Phoenix Column bridge when he was building bridges to his own distinct style (such as Wiley's and Fallston) at the time?

Regards,

Art S.

Mead Avenue Bridge
Posted January 25, 2016, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

This bridge was built by a company whose name history is confusing and both on this website and my own HistoricBridges .org, this has resulted in what could only be called a "category mess" on both websites. I have tried to piece together the convoluted history:

It appears that T. B. White and Sons of New Brighton, Pennsylvania formed ca. 1868 when Timothy B. White began building iron bridges (he had previously built bridges but apparently only timber). Apparently the company was officially called T. B. White and Sons but as the plaque on Mead Avenue Bridge shows it was sometimes titled as Penn Bridge Works. Ca. 1878 it appears the company moved to Beaver Falls following a fire at New Brighton. However, it is noted that the name Penn Bridge Company was formed in 1887.

See HAER data pages for this bridge: http://loc.gov/pictures/item/oh1600/

The above documentation was my source for this brief overview. Adding to the confusion with this company is a listing for T & S White and one for Samuel P. White

HAER http://lcweb2.loc.gov/master/pnp/habshaer/pa/pa3900/pa3994/d... provides a brief discussion of Samuel P. White, who also played a role in this company. At the age of 14, Samuel P. White (b. 1847) began working with his father, Timothy B. White, a bridge builder and contractor. When the company later moved to Beaver Falls, it fell under the management of Samuel White and his brothers.

Mead Avenue Bridge
Posted March 24, 2015, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

The 1871 structure has been disassembled with intent to restore and reuse elsewhere. The 1871 components are on shore with only the 20th century components still over the water.

During disassembly, it was noted that the tolerances and material quality of the castings is extraordinary. Also, two cast structural elements were installed in the wrong position and modified on site to compensate! To me these new facts lend further credence to the theory that Keystone manufactured the entire superstructure and Penn erected it.

Mead Avenue Bridge
Posted January 25, 2015, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

Jason,

Feel free. I'll do my best.

Regards,

Art S.

Mead Avenue Bridge
Posted January 25, 2015, by Jason Smith (flensburg [dot] bridgehunter [dot] av [at] googlemail [dot] com)

Art,

Would you be willing to answer some questions I have for you regarding the Mead Avenue Bridge for an article to be written for the BH Chronicles? If so, please send me an e-mail and I'll send you some to answer. This bridge was the very first article I wrote when I opened the online column in 2010. Happy to hear that you will take care of her.

Thanks and looking forward to hearing from you.

JS :-)

Mead Avenue Bridge
Posted January 25, 2015, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

I've been reading about Keystone Column trusses and came upon this article about Jacob Linville and to me the image titled 1865 patent drawing, about half way through the article seems, to have all of the details of the 1871 portion of the Mead Ave. Bridge: http://www.structurearchives.org/article.aspx?articleID=384

The patent it refers to is US patent 50,723:

http://www.google.com/patents/US50723

This, combined with the Union Mills marks on the iron suggest that the 1871 structure of the Mead Avenue Bridge was made by the Keystone Bridge Co. with Penn Bridge Co. acting as the erector/agent. Any thoughts on this?

Regards,

Art S.

Mead Avenue Bridge
Posted March 17, 2014, by Joe Yoman (ponchoman49 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Here's a concept. Repair what you have and stop the insane demolition. There must be someone in PA that is sick of looking at boring look alike slabs of concrete!

Mead Avenue Bridge
Posted July 26, 2012, by Garrett Corliss (hugeroblox [at] hotmail [dot] com)

The bridge is still there as of 7/21/12. I was in Pennsylvania and drove by it. That bridge replacement sign might be there but I do not recall seeing it.

Mead Avenue Bridge
Posted August 25, 2010, by Doug Kerr

As of May 2009, the bridge was still there. I saw a sign posted during my visit to the bridge that it would take a nominal amount to save the bridge

Mead Avenue Bridge
Posted February 5, 2010, by J.R. Manning (thekitchenguy [at] sbcglobal [dot] net)

True, although there's not much left in Pittsburgh that has anything to do with steel anymore, which seems to be true everywhere.

Many cities seem to have lost a lot of what made them famous, so to speak, since there's only one (major) brewery left in Beer City. There are't many tires being made in Akron nor pumps in Fort Wayne. Not many cars are being made in Motown anymore and the Second City? It's the Third City now. Of course, the the source of the wind in the Windy City (politicians) is still well supplied and they all still have plenty of hot air.

Mead Avenue Bridge
Posted February 5, 2010, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

I have always given Pennsylvania credit because of the large number of surviving HBs in the state and the fact that many of them are actually painted. This demolition frenzy must be a fairly recent policy.

It seems ironic that a state that is so associated with iron, steel, and bridge fabrication would be so quick to remove even the most significant HBs.

Mead Avenue Bridge
Posted February 5, 2010, by J.R. Manning (thekitchenguy [at] sbcglobal [dot] net)

Surprised it's doomed? It's in Pennsylvania. A plan to *SAVE* it...now, *THAT* would be a surprise.

Mead Avenue Bridge
Posted February 5, 2010, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

This has to be one of the most historically significant truss bridges in the United States. I am surprised to see it listed in the "Doomed" Category.