The Historic Bollman Bridge

The Bollman Bridge over CSX Tracks
Where it Stood from 1871 to 2007

Bridge in Place on Scratch Hill Road
to carry the Great Allegheny Passage

The Historic Bollman Bridge


This historic bridge was the work of Wendell Bollman (1814-1884), of Baltimore, Md. He was a self-taught engineer and pioneer of iron railroad bridges in America. This bridge is one of 75 known cast and wrought iron bridges remaining in the U.S., according to a list compiled by the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) under the direction of Eric DeLony. (Source: Civil Engineering Department University of Florida)

It measures 24.4 meters and was constructed on Summit Township Road 381 over the former Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Mainline north of Meyersdale in 1871 by the Patapsco Bridge & Iron Works of Baltimore, Maryland. It carried vehicle traffic as a single lane bridge over the dual track B&O and was lightly used.

The bridge was moved from its original location during the summer of 2007 and was reassembled over the Scratch Hill Road in Summit Township east of Meyersdale to carry hikers and bicyclists on the Allegheny Highlands Trail, part of the Great Allegheny Passage. The bridge replaces a single-lane tunnel, pictured at left. The trail right-of-way was located on top of the tunnel. Local motorists may remember having to blow their horns to signal they were inside or entering the tunnel, alerting any oncoming traffic.

See video of the bridge being moved.

Bollman designed his first iron bridge in 1850, and patented his unique suspension truss form in 1852. Before the Meyersdale bridge was built, another of his designs was constructed about 1869 over the Little Patuxent River in Savage, Maryland, (Howard County) also by the Patapsco Bridge & Iron Works of Baltimore. It still stands today, having been moved from its original location in 1887. Another of his bridges spanned the Potomac River at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, also built for the B&O, in 1868. It was demolished, however, in 1936.

Bollman remains highly regarded among civil engineers today.

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Photos by Sally Fike Statler Jones, © 2001- 2014.