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Odd Feature of Abandoned Bridge
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njp154
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Odd Feature of Abandoned Bridge
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« on: Feb 21st, 2015, 8:12pm »
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I was doing an hydraulics investigation for a highway bridge project near Hollidaysburg, PA.  Immediately upstream from my bridge is a pair of abutments for the original PRR line through the valley. Everything appeared to be as-expected, except the abutments had large timbers spaced evenly across the streambed between them.  The photo below (hopefully) should show these features.
 
Any idea as to their purpose?



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« Last Edit: Feb 21st, 2015, 8:14pm by njp154 » Logged
George_Harris
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Re: Odd Feature of Abandoned Bridge
 
« Reply #1 on: Feb 22nd, 2015, 9:44pm »
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Just guessing:
 
Maybe to stop erosion.   Appears to have rock between the ties.  Is this stream permanent or temporary?


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njp154
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Re: Odd Feature of Abandoned Bridge
 
« Reply #2 on: Feb 23rd, 2015, 6:57pm »
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It's a permanent stream.  Scour protection makes sense, though I can't say I've ever seen something like this used.  I'll have to keep my eyes open for similar things in my travels.  Thanks George.

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ClydeDET
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Re: Odd Feature of Abandoned Bridge
 
« Reply #3 on: Feb 23rd, 2015, 7:53pm »
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Huh. Well George is the engineer, I'm just a broke-down former lawyer. But - erosion/scour control i the only thing that makes sense to me. If the weather isn't too bad, I'll stop by our City Engineer's Office and see what he thinks  when I get out tomorrow.

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George_Harris
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Re: Odd Feature of Abandoned Bridge
 
« Reply #4 on: Feb 23rd, 2015, 11:57pm »
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The reason I ask if it is a permanent stream is that if wood is under water and never exposed to air, it will not rot.  Wood is salt water is another story.  If there are shipworms, they will eat it, but so far as I know there is no fresh water equivalent to these things.

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YeOldeEnjine
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Re: Odd Feature of Abandoned Bridge
 
« Reply #5 on: Feb 24th, 2015, 1:31pm »
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Is this on public land or in a Farmer's filed by chance? Maybe it was a way for farmers or cattlemen to move livestock or machinery from either side of the tracks by using the stream bed when a nearby grade crossing wasn't available.... Just a wide guess!
 
Tim W.


« Last Edit: Feb 24th, 2015, 1:32pm by YeOldeEnjine » Logged
George_Harris
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Re: Odd Feature of Abandoned Bridge
 
« Reply #6 on: Feb 24th, 2015, 8:22pm »
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on Feb 24th, 2015, 1:31pm, YeOldeEnjine wrote:       (Click here for original message)
Is this on public land or in a Farmer's filed by chance? Maybe it was a way for farmers or cattlemen to move livestock or machinery from either side of the tracks by using the stream bed when a nearby grade crossing wasn't available.... Just a wide guess!
 
Tim W.

I would think not likely, as there is no evidence of any of it beyond the end of the abutment.  It it were to be used for a crossing under the railroad, the system would have to extend for some distance beyond the track and then have a ramp up on each side.  
 
Another possibility would be to keep the abutments from moving laterally due to pressure from the fill behind it.  Piers have this aggravating tendency to move sideways if not founded deep enough.


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njp154
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Re: Odd Feature of Abandoned Bridge
 
« Reply #7 on: Feb 24th, 2015, 8:44pm »
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There appear to be two distinct sections of the abutments based on the stone size; an original and apparently something added on at a later time.   The joint between the two is located immediately out of view to the left / downstream side of the picture.  I will have to see if I have other photos that show this. What I do NOT know is if those timbers are present for the other section of the abutments.  Next time I'm out there I'll have to check.
 
Bedrock is only about 10 feet below the stream near the highway bridge, and based on our borings there it doesn't seem to deviate much.  I would hope the railroad could establish a good foundation under those conditions, but who knows.
 
No distinct signs of historic farming in the area, though it's pretty industrialized now.  Immediately upstream is a concrete arch bridge from the previous (pre-1938 ) alignment of US 22 that would limit cattle anyways.
 
From the amount of guesswork being posted here (which is great) it appears this isn't a commonly-found item.  
 
<space added between 8 and close parentheses to get rid of smiley face>


« Last Edit: Mar 17th, 2015, 9:27pm by George_Harris » Logged
George_Harris
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Re: Odd Feature of Abandoned Bridge
 
« Reply #8 on: Feb 24th, 2015, 11:33pm »
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Please send me the link address or whatever so I can look at this on google maps.  You have my curiosity up.

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Marty_Feldner
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Re: Odd Feature of Abandoned Bridge
 
« Reply #9 on: Feb 25th, 2015, 12:04am »
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Any chance this could be remnants of falsework, just left in place? That was my first thought...

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njp154
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Re: Odd Feature of Abandoned Bridge
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« Reply #10 on: Feb 25th, 2015, 7:19am »
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https://www.google.com/maps/@40.4331297,-78.3752008,227m/data=!3m1!1e3
 
In case no place marker shows up, the bridge is about 2/3 of the way between the current US 22 bridge over Brush Run and the former US 22 bridge that lies to the north.
 
Found some additional photos from that day.  It does not look like the timbers extend into the southern part of the abutment, which is constructed of larger stones.
 
Did some quick research and the railroad was the original alignment of the PRR Williamsburg Branch. Much of this railroad followed the path of the Pennsylvania Main Line Canal, which the PRR bought and converted to railroad use in the 1850s. Just eyeing things up on the maps, it's possible that before the rail yards were built, the river and canal were alongside this railroad ROW.  I'll have to check out some elevations and hunt for older maps to see if this is the case.



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« Last Edit: Feb 25th, 2015, 7:27am by njp154 » Logged
njp154
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Re: Odd Feature of Abandoned Bridge
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« Reply #11 on: Feb 25th, 2015, 7:19am »
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Another photo


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« Last Edit: Feb 25th, 2015, 7:20am by njp154 » Logged
Lfire83
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Re: Odd Feature of Abandoned Bridge
 
« Reply #12 on: Feb 25th, 2015, 6:22pm »
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I'm interested as well... in all of my waterway crossings I have yet to see anything like this. It seems like the more I know about railroading the less I know. One of our bridge inspectors is a retired CSX head bridge supervisor, and after describing an unusual construction technique on one of our lines he said -
"Son, you never know what those engineers were up against when this was built". It stands to reason, as I have seen some redneck engineered junk in my time.  
 
Great thread


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George_Harris
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Re: Odd Feature of Abandoned Bridge
 
« Reply #13 on: Mar 2nd, 2015, 8:13pm »
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"Redneck engineering"  Yes, if that means getting the most mileage out of your dollar, that is the standard for most railroad engineering.  Likewise, railroad engineering means paying sufficient attention to maintenance so that structures do not need replacing due to neglect.  I explain it this way:  For taxpayer funded structures, replacing the structure means an opportunity for politicians to posture and get their names in the press, and maybe even on the structure, so letting a structure approach failure so that it needs replacing is considered a good idea.  Also, maintenance is usually local or state funded but replacement can mean getting federal dollars.  However, for a railroad structure, if it is not maintained and reinforced and generally kept in service to its last dying gasp, the chief engineer and whoever else failed to do all they could to keep it going will be looking for another job.
 
Sorry, the pictures do not give me any inspiration other than to say the structure was not built all at once and that it is quite old, I would say built somewhere before 1900, maybe well before 1900, even pre 1860.  The difference in stone sizes are the reason I say not all at once, and it appears that the side with the smaller stones was built first.


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ClydeDET
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Re: Odd Feature of Abandoned Bridge
 
« Reply #14 on: Mar 8th, 2015, 6:40pm »
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Talked with Steve (City Engineer) and he says "New one on me, never have seen anything like it. But whoever did it had a reason that he thought made sense back in the day. Wonder what i am going to do that, if it lasts a hundred years, somebody will look at and wonder about?".

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