Colossus Bridge

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"The Upper Ferry Bridge" in an 1823 engraving.

The Colossus Bridge – also known as Fairmount Bridge, Colossus of Fairmount or Upper Ferry Bridge (and formally as the Lancaster Schuylkill Bridge[1]) – was a record-setting timber bridge across the Schuylkill River near Philadelphia. It was built in 1812 by Louis Wernwag, and was considered his finest bridge design. It had a clear span of 340 feet (103.6 m) and the longest single-span wooden truss to be erected in the United States[2] as well as the first long span bridge to use iron rods.[3]

The bridge was destroyed September 1, 1838, by fire.[4] The bridge was succeeded by Charles Ellet, Jr.'s wire suspension bridge and then the Callowhill Street truss bridge.[5] The modern bridge at this site is the Spring Garden Street Bridge.

The bridge was located near 39°57′50″N 75°11′00″W / 39.96389°N 75.18333°W / 39.96389; -75.18333Coordinates: 39°57′50″N 75°11′00″W / 39.96389°N 75.18333°W / 39.96389; -75.18333.


  1. ^ Griggs, Jr., F. E. (October 2004). "Colossus Bridge Designer Lewis Wernwag" (PDF). STRUCTURE magazine: 34–36. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 19, 2011. Retrieved November 26, 2009.
  2. ^ Kapsch, Robert James. Over the Alleghenies: early canals and railroads of Pennsylvania. W. Va. University Press, 2013.
  3. ^ Ryall, M. J.; G. A. R. Parke; J. E. Harding (2000). The Manual of Bridge Engineering. Thomas Telford. p. 15. ISBN 0-7277-2774-5. Retrieved April 6, 2008.
  4. ^ Burr Arthur Robinson (1961). "Wernwag, Lewis". Dictionary of American Biography. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.
  5. ^ Tyrrell, Henry Grattan (1911). History of Bridge Engineering. Chicago: Published by the author. p. 135. Retrieved November 26, 2009.