2 votes

Atherton Bridge


'Barrel Shot' Showing Wooden Deck

Photo taken by Historic American Engineering Record

View photos at Library of Congress

BH Photo #154614

Street Views 


Iron pony truss bridge over South Branch Nashua River on Bolton Road in Lancaster
Lancaster, Worcester County, Massachusetts
Closed indefinitely due to deck damage from flooding. Future uncertain.
Future prospects
Bridge was bypassed but retained for pedestrian use many years ago. Flooding in April 2020 damaged the bridge's wooden deck and the structure was closed to all traffic. There is no definitive plan for the future of the bridge at the current time.
Built 1870 by J.H. Cofrode & Co.; closed to traffic in 1975
- J.H. Cofrode & Co. of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Wrought- and cast-iron Post pony truss with Phoenix columns
Span length: 72.0 ft.
Total length: 72.0 ft.
Deck width: 18.5 ft.
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on September 19, 1979
Approximate latitude, longitude
+42.44478, -71.67203   (decimal degrees)
42°26'41" N, 71°40'19" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
19/280249/4702620 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Inventory numbers
NRHP 79000377 (National Register of Historic Places reference number)
BH 44053 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • June 9, 2021: Updated by Dave King: Added categories "Wooden deck", "Pin-connected"
  • August 20, 2020: New photos from Nick Boppel
  • April 26, 2020: Updated by Nick Boppel: Closed with uncertain future
  • January 22, 2017: New photos from Chester Gehman
  • September 27, 2016: New Street View added by Dana and Kay Klein
  • March 13, 2015: New photo from Marc N Belanger
  • June 14, 2014: Updated by Chester Gehman: Added location, NRHP listing
  • November 12, 2013: New Street View added by J.P.
  • February 7, 2010: Added by James Baughn


  • Wikipedia
  • HAER MA-17 - Atherton Bridge, Spanning Nashua River on Bolton Road, Lancaster vicinity, Worcester County, MA
  • Historicbridges.org - by Nathan Holth
  • J.P. - wildcatjon2000 [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Chester Gehman - gehmanc2000 [at] yahoo [dot] com
  • Marc N Belanger - marcnbelanger [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Dana and Kay Klein
  • Nick Boppel - nickboppel01 [at] gmail [dot] com


Atherton Bridge
Posted August 20, 2020, by Nick Boppel (nickboppel01 [at] gmail [dot] com)

My site visit confirmed a lot of my speculations, which is unfortunate. The bridge and its approaches have not been maintained whatsoever since the bridge was closed in the spring. Both approaches are extensively overgrown, with the south/west approach completely inaccessible, and the north/east approach barely accessible after ducking and cutting through trees and branches. The iron trusses themselves appear to be mostly intact, although I observed at least one of the diagonal members at the east end post on the north truss had buckled and was bent. The wooden deck, on the other hand, is anything but intact. There are entire sections of the deck that are missing and have likely fallen away due to rotting. There are shrubs and weeds growing in the deck where the wood has rotted.

In summary, while the truss superstructure appears to be intact for now, the extensive overgrowth around the bridge is starting to surround the trusses at both ends. The deck, in its current condition, would likely not survive a major snowstorm or flood. Hopefully, even if the deck fails, it will not bring the trusses down with it, but I still feel strongly that this bridge should be moved off its abutments and placed on the ground a safe distance from the riverbank.

Atherton Bridge
Posted April 26, 2020, by Nick Boppel (nickboppel01 [at] gmail [dot] com)

As of last week, this bridge has been indefinitely closed to all traffic including pedestrians due to damage to the wooden deck caused by flooding. The truss superstructure itself appears to be intact, but there is no ETA on when or if the bridge will reopen to any form of public use.