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photo of bridge

Stone arch carrying the old alignment of Center-New Texas Rd now serves as the entry to Plum Creek Cemetery.


Allegheny Stone:
Stone Arch Bridges in Allegheny County

During years surrounding 1900, Allegheny County, first under the direction of County Engineer Charles Davis, was busy throughout the region building stone arch bridges of a simple and similar design. These bridges exhibit the many common design features -- parapets with rounded top, horizontal curves at the portals, and similar stone finishing. Most structures may be attributed to Allegheny County Department of Public Works, c1870 - c1925. Though many have been lost to development and road improvements, structures similar in design may still be found in rural locations in the county.

Several bridges have a builder's tablet at the midpoint of the sidewall facing traffic. On older structures the tablet often identifies Charles Davis as the Engineer for Allegheny County. These bridges were built just prior to and during the rise of the automobile.

In some locations, Davis built girder spans which have abutments that share similar traits of his stone arch bridges. A listing of these girder bridges may be found below.

Charles Davis (1837-1907): City Engineer of Allegheny (City) 1867-1875; Allegheny County Engineer, 1881-1907. Davis was involved in surveys to locate Western Pennsylvania Railroad [PRR] and Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad. He was the Engineer during the development of West Park in Allegheny City (North Side). Between his service with Allegheny City and Allegheny County, Davis was consulting engineer on the first Point Bridge (1875-77) over Monongahela River and Engineer on the first project to replace Roebling's Smithfield St Bridge (1880). In addition to road and bridge projects, Davis supervised construction of Henry Hobson Richardson's Allegheny County Courthouse. [Charles Stratton Davis, no relation, is noted as Engineer for the Washington Crossing Bridge completed over the Allegheny River in 1924.]

James Graham Chalfant (1869-1922) was elected to the position of County Engineer in 1907 and served until his death in 1922. Prominent structures during this period include the Manchester Bridge over the Allegheny River and the original Sewickley Bridge over the Ohio River. Lesser structures during Chalfant's direction seem to be lacking a builder's plate or when one is present only the bridge's official name and construction date are shown. Because of this, it is uncertain which of the stone arch bridges may be attributed to him. About this time, the bridge designs were changed structurally to be built as a filled concrete arch with a coursed stone outer face; the aesthetic design was also altered to feature stepped voissoirs, instead of the concentric intrados and extrados typical of most arches. One of the largest stone-faced arch bridges is the 1915 Burchfield Rd over Pine Creek in Shaler.

Vernon Royce Covell, deputy to Chalfant, assumed the position of County Engineer upon the death of Mr. Chalfant. Under Covell's tenure many of the largest bridges in the region were constructed. Additionally, there were a final few stone arch and stone-faced bridges constructed. These later bridges by Chalfant and Covell exhibit further refinement in stonework with a style that is clearly different from the rustic crossings built by Mr. Davis.

Many of these stone arch bridges may be in danger of demolition and replacement. PA Senate Bill 166 P.N. 445 lists the appropriations by county for construction. The bill shown on-line is dated 1997; some of the projects have been completed, while many others may soon be undertaken. In some locations, the old bridges have been or may be bypassed by newer crossings -- but in others it seems any replacement would destroy the older structure. In the latter instances, the replacement is commonly an architecturally-void culvert.

Beginning about 1910 -- after Chalfant assumed the position of County Engineer -- new county bridges were being constructed solely in concrete using a design which mimicked the earlier stone arches. To help in the comparison and understand the transition, a sample of these simple short-span concrete structures is listed below.


Older Stone Arch Bridges (altered)

view page - Beaver Rd over Big Sewickley Creek [1827, widened 1919] (Ambridge, Butler Co. - Leetsdale, Allegheny Co.)

view page - Beaver Rd over Little Sewickley Creek [1841, widened 1918] (Edgeworth)


Stone Arch Bridges (c1881 - c1907)
Charles Davis, Allegheny County Engineer

view page - Woodland Rd Ext over Little Sewickley Creek [1889] (Edgeworth)

view page - Brown Rd over East Branch Big Sewickley Creek [1891] (Franklin Park)

view page - Seventh Av over Bull Creek [1895] (Tarentum)

view page - Brighton Rd over Spruce Run [1896] (Ben Avon)

view page - McGregor Rd over Thompson Run [c1900] (Monroeville)

Jody Dr [Unity Rd old alignment] over tributary of Plum Creek [c1900] (Plum)

view page - Verona Rd [old alignment] over Quigley's Creek [1900] (Penn Hills)

view page - Old Leechburg Rd over tributary of Little Plum Creek [1900] (Plum)

view page - Broadway over Dirty Camp Run [c1901] (Pitcairn)

view page - Cochran's Mill Rd over Licks Run [1901] (South Park Twp - Jefferson Hills)

view page - Triphammer Rd over Piney Fork Creek [1902] (South Park Twp)

view page - Cemetery Ln [Center-New Texas Rd old alignment] over tributary of Little Plum Creek [1902] (Plum)

view page - Glassport and Elizabeth Rd [Lincoln Blvd] over Wylie Run [1905] (Lincoln - Elizabeth Twp.)

Bull Creek Rd over Howes Run [parapets removed] (Fawn)

view page - Dickey Rd over West Branch Deer Creek (Richland)

view page - Liberty Way over Heath's Run at Glenn Av (Liberty)

view page - Library Rd [PA88] over northern branch of Piney Fork Creek, north of Clifton Rd (Bethel Park)

view page - Library Rd [PA88] over Piney Fork Creek, south of Clifton Rd (Bethel Park)

view page - McIntyre Rd over West Branch of Deer Creek, at PA910 (Richland)

Milltown Rd over Bodies Run [parapets removed] (Plum)

view page - Old Mill Rd [Old PA908, Millerstown and Freeport Rd] over Little Bull Creek (Fawn)

Stewart Rd over Piney Fork Creek (South Park Twp)

Stroschein Rd over Dirty Camp Run [parapets removed] (Monroeville)

Walnut St over Long Run [parapets removed, widened] (McKeesport)


Later Stone Arch Bridges (stone facing on concrete arch)
by Allegheny County Public Works Dept. [1907 - c1925]

view page - Burchfield Rd over Pine Creek [1915] (Shaler)

view page - Old Butler Plank Rd [Old PA 8] over Pine Creek [1915] (Shaler)

view page - Howes Run Rd [McDowell Run Rd] over McDowell Run [1915] (Fawn)

view page - Merriman Rd over Big Sewickley Creek [1916] (Bell Acres, Allegheny Co. - Economy, Butler Co.)

view page - Freeport Rd [old alignment - closed] over Powers Run (O'Hara)

view page - E. State St [Noblestown Rd] over Robinson's Run, North Branch [1921] (Oakdale)

view page - Bull Creek Rd [Red Belt] AC #2 over Bull Creek, south of Haas Ln [1922] (Fawn)

view page - Union Av [PA978, Orange Belt] over Robinson's Run, South Branch [1925] (Oakdale)


Girder Bridges [c1881-1907] with Stone Abutments
by Allegheny County Public Works Dept.

Steubenville Pike - Enlow Rd over Montour Run [1883] (Findlay - North Fayette)
- oakd567-1 0567-4477
- girder/lattice

McClaren Rd over Montour Run (Findlay - North Fayette)
- oakd564-7 0564-4478
- girder

view page - Naylor Av over Gourhead Run [1898] (Hampton)

Coulterville Rd over Long Run [1899] (White Oak)
- mcke602-8 0602-4464
- girder

view page - Elfinwild Rd over Pine Creek [1890, replaced c1996] (Shaler)
- converted to laminated wood beam

view page - Pittsburgh-Rochester Rd old alignment, [AC# SB05], private drive at 2705 Warrendale and Bayne Rd, over Big Sewickley Creek [c1900] (Marshall)

view page - Big Sewickley Creek Rd old alignment [AC# SB06], private drive at 2775 Warrendale and Bayne Rd, over Big Sewickley Creek [1900] (Franklin)

view page - Pennview St over Pine Creek [1902] (Shaler)

view page - McLaughlin Run Rd at Maple St, over McLaughlin Run [1905] (Bridgeville)

Chestnut St [old alignment] over Chartiers Creek [abutments only] (Carnegie)

Old Abers Creek Rd over Abers Creek, north of US22 (Monroeville)

Old Abers Creek Rd over Abers Creek, at Stone House [abutments only] (Monroeville)

Vanadium Rd [old alignment] over Chartiers Creek [abutments only] (Collier-Scott)


Concrete Arch Bridges designed to mimic earlier stone bridges

view page - Spang Rd over Big Sewickley Creek [1910] (Marshall)

view page - Old PA 8 over Gourhead Run [1914] (Hampton)

view page - Duncan Av over Gourhead Run [1919] (Hampton)

view page - Markman Park Rd over Big Sewickley Creek [1919] (Marshall)

view page - Donnellville Rd over Little Bull Creek (Fawn)

view page - Baldwin St over McLaughlin Run [1935] (Bridgeville)

view page - Wetzel Rd over Little Pine Creek [1936] (Shaler)


North Park - WPA stone-faced concrete arch


Other larger Stone Arch Bridges by City of Pittsburgh or Railroads

Ohio River Blvd [former PRR alignment] over Ferry St (Sewickley)

PRR Brilliant Cutoff over Highland Dr

view page - PRR Brilliant Cutoff over Silver Lake

PRR Brilliant Cutoff over Highland Dr

One Wild Place over Pittsburgh Zoo entrance

Reservoir Dr (partially buried), Highland Park near Lake Carnegie

view page - Bellefield Bridge (buried), near Schenley Bridge entrance to Schenley Park, Oakland

Wabash RR over Saw Mill Run at Woodruff St

view page - West Side Belt Railroad [WSB RR] under PRR, West End

view page - Lincoln Avenue Bridge over Washington Blvd



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Last modified: 24-Mar-2009, 10-Apr-2003