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The Paintings of Carl Rakeman

1839 - Our First Iron Bridge

Image:  Horse-drawn wagons travel over an iron bridge in this fall scene.

Although a number had been built in Europe, the first iron bridge in the United States was not completed until 1839. This bridge succeeded a number of others built over Dunlap's Creek in Brownsville, Pennsylvania, on the National Pike.

Nearby foundries made it possible to build the bridge's cast-iron arch and open spandrels supporting the bridge floor, while the abutment and wingwalls were sandstone.

Stagecoaches and Conestoga freight wagons rolled over the bridge until 1853, when the B&O railroad opened to Wheeling. Traffic steadily disappeared, followed by nearly 50 years of disuse until the invention of the automobile.

Since then, vehicles have used this historic bridge at higher speeds and carrying heavier loads than ever anticipated by the designing engineers.

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The Paintings of Carl Rakeman