Waterford Covered Bridge

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Coordinates: 41°56′28″N 79°57′48″W / 41.94111°N 79.96333°W / 41.94111; -79.96333
Waterford Covered Bridge
Wattsburg Road, Old Kissing, Brotherton
Waterford Covered Bridge.jpg
Official name: Waterford Covered Bridge
Country United States
State Pennsylvania
County Erie
Township Waterford
Road Township 463 (single lane)
Crosses LeBoeuf Creek
Coordinates 41°56′28″N 79°57′48″W / 41.94111°N 79.96333°W / 41.94111; -79.96333
Length 86 ft (26 m) [1]
 - Mainspan 78 ft (24 m) [2]
Width 14 ft (4 m) [2]
Builder Charles and James Phelps
Design Town Lattice Truss Bridge
Material Wood
Built 1875
Governing Body Waterford Township
NBI Number 257220046340030
WGCB Number 38-25-03
NRHP Ref Number 80003492
Load 3 short tons (2.7 t)
Added to NRHP September 17, 1980 [1]
MPS Covered Bridges of Erie County TR
Location of the Waterford Covered Bridge in Pennsylvania
Wikimedia Commons: Waterford Covered Bridge

The Waterford Covered Bridge is an 86-foot (26 m) Town lattice truss covered bridge crossing LeBoeuf Creek in Waterford Township, Erie County in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. It was built in 1875 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 17, 1980.[1] The bridge was documented by the Historic American Buildings Survey in 1936.

It is the only Town lattice truss bridge in Erie County[1] and one of only nineteen in Pennsylvania. The bridge structure's sufficiency rating on the Federal Highway Administration National Bridge Inventory was only 18.4 percent and its condition was deemed "basically intolerable requiring high priority of replacement."


The Waterford Covered Bridge is located in Waterford Township, just east of the borough of Waterford. The bridge is located 0.7 miles (1.1 km) from Waterford on Niemeyer Road (Township Road 463), which intersects Water Street in Waterford 0.3 miles (0.5 km) off of U.S. Route 19. The bridge crosses the LeBoeuf Creek, a tributary of French Creek.

The bridge was designed by Richard Cross using a Town lattice truss.[3] The Town lattice truss was patented by Ithiel Town in 1832 and was used to make bridges with small, light pieces instead large, heavy pieces that were more expensive to make. They are only nineteen Town lattice truss bridges remaining in Pennsylvania and the Waterford Covered Bridge is only one in Erie County.[4] The bridge also has "an unusual, blue, metal pipe structure" on the exterior of the bridge's south side supported with a king post framework.[1]


HABS/HAER photo of the Waterford Covered Bridge in 1936.

The Waterford Covered Bridge was built in 1875 by the brothers Charles and James Phelps. A sign that was mounted on the gable of one of portals of the bridge said, "Old Kissing Bridge built in 1875 the Phelps Bros."[1] The sign has since been taken down.

In 2001, Waterford Township was given a $54,000 grant by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) to replace the rafters, roofing, and shake shingles on the bridge.

Modern use and status[edit]

The bridge was damaged twice when oversized trucks have attempted to cross it. The first incident occurred on June 17, 2003 when a Ford F-450 box truck attempted to cross the bridge. The second incident occurred on December 9, 2005 involving a FedEx truck that was 8 inches (200 mm) taller than the bridge's 10-foot (3.0 m) clearance and 3,580 pounds (1,620 kg) over the bridge's posted 3 ton load limit.[5] Several of the bridge's deck planks, support beams, and cross pieces were damaged, although the bridge's integrity was not compromised and was never closed to traffic.[5]

The interior of the Waterford Covered Bridge.

Evans' 2001 Pennsylvania's covered bridges: a complete guide described the bridge as being "in fairly poor condition."[1] The Federal Highway Administration National Bridge Inventory found the sufficiency rating[a] of the bridge structure to be only 18.4 percent.[2] It found that the bridge's foundations were determined "to be stable for assessed scour conditions," and that the railing "does not meet currently acceptable standards".[2] Its overall condition was deemed "basically intolerable requiring high priority of corrective action", with an estimated cost to improve the bridge of $750,000.[2]

Bridge dimensions[edit]

The south side of the Waterford Covered Bridge. Note the blue, pipe structure.

The following table is a comparison of published measurements of length, width and load recorded in different sources using different methods, as well as the name or names cited. NBI measures bridge length between the "backwalls of abutments" or pavement grooves and the roadway width as "the most restrictive minimum distance between curbs or rails". The NRHP form was prepared by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, which surveyed county engineers, historical and covered bridge societies, and others for all the covered bridges in the commonwealth. The Evans visited every covered bridge in Pennsylvania in 2001 and measured each bridge's length (portal to portal) and width (at the portal) for their book. The article uses primarily the NBI and NRHP data, as they are national programs.

feet (m)
feet (m)
short tons (MT)
78 feet (23.8 m) 13.7 feet (4.2 m) 5.9 short tons (5.4 t) NBI (2008)[2]
78 feet (23.8 m) 15 feet (4.6 m) 3 short tons (2.7 t) NRHP (1979)[3]
85 feet 11 inches (26.2 m) 15 feet 1 inch (4.6 m) NA Evans (2001)[1]
78 feet (23.8 m) 15 feet (4.6 m) NA Zacher (1986)[4]

See also[edit]


a. ^ The National Highway Administration established the sufficiency rating, which can vary from a low of 0 to a high of 100, as a way to prioritize federal funding for bridges. The rating is calculated based on "structural adequacy, whether the bridge is functionally obsolete, and level of service provided to the public".[6] Federal funds are available for replacement of bridges with a rating of 50 or below, while those with a rating of 80 or below qualify for rehabilitation.[7] In 2007, Pennsylvania had 22,291 bridges over 20 feet (6.1 m) long, of which 42.9 percent were either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.[8]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Evans, Benjamin D.; June R. Evans (2001). Pennsylvania's covered bridges: a complete guide. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. p. 131. ISBN 0-8229-5764-7. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Federal Highway Administration National Bridge Inventory (2008). "Place Name: Waterford (Township of), Pennsylvania; NBI Structure Number: 257220046340030; Facility Carried: T-463, Niemeyer; Feature Intersected: LeBoeuf Creek". Nationalbridges.com (Alexander Svirsky). Retrieved October 11, 2008.  Note: this is a formatted scrape of the 2006 official website, which can be found here for Pennsylvania: "PA06.txt". Federal Highway Administration. 2006. Retrieved June 7, 2008. 
  3. ^ a b Claridge, John R. (December 27, 1979). National Register of Historic Places — Nomination Form. Harrisburg: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Retrieved October 11, 2008. 
  4. ^ a b Zacher, Susan M. (1986). The Covered Bridges of Pennsylvania: A Guide (1st ed.). Harrisburg: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. p. 127. ISBN 0-89271-054-3. 
  5. ^ a b Hahn, Tim (December 11, 2005). "FedEx truck smacks into historic 'Kissing Bridge'". Erie Times-News. pp. 1B, 6B. 
  6. ^ "Bridge Inspection Definitions". American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. August 29, 2007. Retrieved October 11, 2008. 
  7. ^ "Bridge Sufficiency Ratings" (PDF). Kansas Department of Transportation. Retrieved October 11, 2008. 
  8. ^ "State by State: 'Deficient' or 'Obsolete' Bridges". Msnbc.com. August 2, 2007. Retrieved October 11, 2008. 

External links[edit]