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  Big Crossings Bridge, Somerfield, Pa.

THE GREAT CROSSINGS BRIDGE, WHICH TOOK 3 YEARS TO COMPLETE (ABOVE LEFT), WAS  DEDICATED ON JULY 4, 1818.  THE ORIGINAL STRUCTURE WAS A TRIPLE ARCH, CUT STONE BRIDGE SPANNING THE YOUGHIOGHENY RIVER. THE BRIDGE WAS CONSTRUCTED BY THREE MEN, JAMES KINKAID, JAMES BECK AND EVAN EVANS IN THE TOWN OF SOMERFIELD WHICH, AT THE TIME, WAS A SMALL TOWN IN SOMERSET COUNTY WITH ONLY TWO STREETS AND A FEW ALLEYS.

THE GREAT CROSSINGS BRIDGE DEDICATION WAS A VERY LARGE EVENT ATTENDED BY PRESIDENT JAMES MONROE AS WELL AS SEVERAL CABINET MEMBERS.  THE TOWN GREW, PROSPERED & FELL INTO DECLINE SEVERAL TIMES BEFORE ITS DEMOLITION TO MAKE WAY FOR THE FLOOD CONTROL DAM.    

AFTER THE FLOOD OF 1936, THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE DAM AT CONFLUENCE WAS AUTHORIZED BY THE FLOOD CONTROL ACT OF 1938.  SINCE ITS COMPLETION IN 1943, THE PROJECT HAS PREVENTED HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN FLOOD DAMAGE. SOMERFIELD WAS ONE OF THE MANY TOWNS THAT HAD GROWN AROUND THE NATIONAL PIKE.  JOCKEY HOLLOW WAS ANOTHER SMALL TOWN DESTROYED BY THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE DAM.  IN ALL, 10 SMALL VILLAGES WERE DESTROYED.

CONSTRUCTION ON THE CURRENT STRUCTURE (LEFT) BEGAN CONCURRENTLY WITH CONSTRUCTION ON THE DAM IN 1939.  WORK WAS HALTED ON THE BRIDGE IN 1941 WHEN WORLD WAR II BEGAN CREATING A NEED FOR STEEL THAT TOOK PRECEDENCE OVER CONSTRUCTION NEEDS.  WORK CONTINUED ON THE DAM TO PROTECT THE RAILROAD AND INDUSTRIAL AREAS DOWNSTREAM. AFTER THE WAR, WORK ON THE  BRIDGE RESUMED BUT THE DESIGN HAD BEEN CHANGED.  THIS RESULTED IN THE MISMATCHED PIER COLUMNS SEEN AT LEFT.  THE BRIDGE WAS COMPLETED IN 1948. 

THE GREAT CROSSINGS BRIDGE REMAINS AND MAKES OCCASIONAL APPEARANCES IN THE FALL AND WINTER SEASONS WHEN WATER IS LOW.  THE OLD STRUCTURE IS PROTECTED BY THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL PROTECTION ACT OF 1974.  THE GREAT CROSSINGS BRIDGE WAS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC UNTIL 1991 WHEN A BARRICADE HAD TO BE ERECTED TO PROTECT IT FROM VANDALS.  IT IS STILL OPEN TO FOOT TRAFFIC BUT THE PUBLIC IS DISCOURAGED FROM TAKING PIECES OF THE BRIDGE AS SOUVENIRS. 

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This site was last updated 05/14/04