High Bridge (Coatesville, Pennsylvania) - Construction and History


Construction and History

While the PRR had been using steel bridges since the 1880s, and was constructing others nearby at the time, such as the High Bridge at Downingtown, President A. J. Cassatt decided in favor of a stone bridge at this location and elsewhere. This reflected the influence of PRR Chief Engineer William H. Brown, who rebuilt many of the railroad's bridges in masonry during his tenure. While more expensive than steel, Brown felt that stone bridges were stronger and more durable, and less expensive to maintain in the long term.

Work on the bridge began in November 1902, locating it slightly to the south of the double-track bridge. The bridge was completed on 1 September 1904 and the main line was realigned to cross it, abandoning the old bridge. The realignment reduced the curvature in the area and completed the PRR's four-track main line from Philadelphia to the Conestoga River bridge near Lancaster.

In later years, a concrete parapet was added to the bridge and the tops of some arches were reinforced with concrete. Catenary poles were added to the bridge with electrification in the 1930s. Ownership of the bridge passed, with the rest of the Main Line, to Penn Central in 1968 and Amtrak in 1976.

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