Friday, February 26, 2016

Historic Truss Bridge

Part of what I do as an architectural historian involves not just assessing historic buildings but other kinds of structures too--like bridges. Bridges can be just as architecturally significant and also very important in their engineering patterns, especially if it happens to be one of the only examples of a specific type of bridge constructed in a unique method during a certain time period.

This particular bridge is a Pratt Thru truss bridge built in 1921 located in Chatham County, North Carolina. It is a 13 span pin-connected truss bridge with floorbeams that carry steel stringers and a wood plank deck. The original railing was replaced in the early 1980s with the current railing shown above. The main span of the bridge is supported by concrete piers and travels over the Rocky River.

Detail of a construction plaque that reads: "Built By Atlantic Bridge Co., Charlotte NC 1921"

Metal truss bridges are rapidly disappearing from our landscape as deteriorating old bridges and new bridge safety standards call for new construction rather than rehabilitation or preservation. The Pratt truss design, patented in 1844 by Thomas and Caleb Pratt, was commonly built throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and offered a simplified construction process.

I don't often post on topics that venture into the territory of my day job, but I thought you might like to see a really cool example of a unique structure.

If you love old buildings and their history, I urge you to also be a champion for the preservation of historic bridges.


  1. Very neat. Definitely worth saving bridges like this.

  2. Love the bridge! I like it when you post about your day job! I like all of your blog. Your homesteading adventures give me a chance to live the dream without all the work!