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picture of bridge

View north from CSX RR (downstream right)

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Allegheny County Bridge No. 16 Pine Creek [PI16]

Old Butler Plank Rd over Pine Creek

Shaler Twp

USGS 7.5" Topo Quad - UTM Coordinates:
Glenshaw - Zone 17; 0588 4486
Old Butler Plank Rd

-- south of Kleber Rd
-- north of Glenshaw Av

-- Pine Creek

concrete arch with stone facing
locally-quarried sandstone
outer spandrel wall: rock-faced coursed ashlar
upper walls and parapets: dressed coursed ashlar
arch ring: dressed stepped voussoirs in segmental arch
brick street surface

60 ft

TOTAL LENGTH (including longest elevated ramp):
87 ft
25 ft wide, between parapets at center


1915, Allegheny County
James G. Chalfant, County Engineer

Ground was broken in June 1851 by the Allegheny City and Butler Plank Road Company to build one of the earliest improved roads north of Pittsburgh. With the arrival of the motor age, these older "improved" roads were rebuilt. This bridge was constructed in 1915 as part of the Butler Plank Rd. The Pittsburgh-Butler Highway, now William Flinn Hwy, was straightened and widened again in 1931-32 at which time, this bridge was bypassed in the same way a meandering river isolates an oxbow lake. This section of the Old Butler Plank Road became a road less traveled with the exception of a few older homes, the local post office, and a Kleber Rd shortcut to Mt Royal Blvd neighborhoods.

Numerous small stone arch bridges were built under the tenure of Charles Davis as County Engineer. Upon the death of Davis in 1907, James Graham Chalfant was elected to the position of County Engineer. Two of the projects undertaken by Chalfant were the reconstruction and widening of stone arch bridges of Davis: Beaver Rd over Big and Little Sewickley Creeks, 1919 and 1918 respectively. In those projects, the stonework design which may be seen as Davis' signature was retained, but the reconstruction of the bridges were done as concrete arch.

When the time came to build new bridges over streams elsewhere within the county, Chalfant evolved from the Roman simplicity of Davis. The two bridges carrying Old Butler Plank Road over Pine Creek in Shaler Township mark the introduction of stepped voussoirs along the arch ring. Other details in the stonework continued to echo the Davis design: rock-faced, coursed ashlar and rounded parapets. But the major change evident in the new structures is the use of the filled concrete arch -- the stonework is mainly a decorative covering.

While nearly two dozen of the small stone spans by Davis still exist, perhaps half that number remain of the Chalfant design. One of them is nearby to the north on another section of the Old Butler Plank Rd, now part of Burchfield Rd.

The quiet charm of Glenshaw is found along this bypassed part of Old Butler Plank Rd. Numerous old homes line the road south of the bridge and cluster in a small grid of streets that grew up around Shaw's Mills. Founding settler John Shaw owned a blacksmith shop at the Point in Pittsburgh and built his 1802 home near Pine Creek in Glenshaw. The Greek Revival home of his son Thomas Wilson Shaw was built in 1824 with later additions. The Shaw family had numerous industrial operations in this valley including a sickle factory, a gristmill, a coal mine, a sawmill, and a brick factory. The 1876 Hopkins atlas locates the sickle factory on Pine Creek at the southwestern corner of this bridge.

The Shaw businesses were served by the Pittsburg & Western Railroad (later B&O) beginning in 1878. The curve of Pine Creek which is crossed by this 1915 bridge is caused by a hill at Spencer Lane. The road and the creek avoid the hill; the railroad tunnels through it.


field check; Swetham and Smith, "A Guidebook to Historic Western Pennsylvania"

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Introduction -- Nearby Structures

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Last modified: 20-Feb-2003

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