Skew Arch Bridge (Reading, Pennsylvania)

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Askew Bridge
ELEVATION VIEW, TAKEN PERPENDICULAR TO SOUTH FACE, LOOKING NE. - Philadelphia & Reading Railroad, Skew Arch Bridg.jpg
South face in 1999
Skew Arch Bridge (Reading, Pennsylvania) is located in Pennsylvania
Skew Arch Bridge (Reading, Pennsylvania)
Skew Arch Bridge (Reading, Pennsylvania) is located in the US
Skew Arch Bridge (Reading, Pennsylvania)
Location N. 6th Street near Woodward Street, Reading, Pennsylvania
Coordinates 40°20′34″N 75°55′33″W / 40.34278°N 75.92583°W / 40.34278; -75.92583Coordinates: 40°20′34″N 75°55′33″W / 40.34278°N 75.92583°W / 40.34278; -75.92583
Area less than one acre
Architect Osborne,Richard
NRHP Reference # 73001590[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP March 01, 1973
Designated PHMC March 1, 1951[2]

The Skew Arch Bridge in Reading, Pennsylvania, also known as the Askew Bridge and nicknamed the Soap and Whiskey Bridge, is a historical skew arch bridge completed in 1857 carrying two tracks of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad (P&R) at an angle over Sixth Street in Reading, Berks County, Pennsylvania.[3] The bridge was acquired by Conrail after the P&R's demise in 1976, and was transferred to Norfolk Southern Railway in 1999.[4]


The bridge was designed by Richard Osborne in 1856. He submitted a model to the company made of pieces of soap before construction and workers were paid partially in whiskey, leading to the unusual nickname.[3][5][6]

The main arch of the bridge spans 40 feet (12 m), with two smaller arches spanning the sidewalks on either side. The courses of the arch are constructed from local brownstone in elliptical curves which follow the angle at which the railroad tracks cross the street. Because of this design, there is no keystone in the arch.

In 1951 the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission placed a historical marker on the site, and in 1973 the bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[3][7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ "PHMC Historical Markers". Historical Marker Database. Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission. Retrieved December 10, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1972, NRHP Nomination Form for Askew Bridge Enter "public" for ID and "public" for password to access the site.
  4. ^ Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) No. PA-116, "Philadelphia & Reading Railroad, Skew Arch Bridge", page 1, accessed 2012-03-27
  5. ^ Federal Writers' Project (1940). Pennsylvania: A Guide to the Keystone State. US History Publishers. p. 660. ISBN 9781603540377.  pages 320-321
  6. ^ Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) No. PA-1025, "Skew Arch Bridge", page 2, accessed 2011-04-02
  7. ^ Skew Bridge,, accessed April 2, 2011.