Pennsylvania Railroad, Connecting Railway Bridge

Pennsylvania Railroad, Connecting Railway Bridge
Pennsylvania Railroad, Connecting Railway Bridge

Pennsylvania Railroad, Connecting Railway Bridge from the southeast in 1999.
Other name(s) Pennsylvania Railroad, New York Division, Bridge No. 69
Carries SEPTA Trenton Line and Chestnut Hill West Line, Amtrak Northeast Corridor, NJT Atlantic City Line
Crosses Girard Avenue, Schuylkill River, Landsdowne Drive
Locale Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Designer John A. Wilson
Design Arch bridge
Material Stone
Longest span 103 feet (31 m)
Constructed by Thomas Seabrook
Opened 1867
Coordinates 39°58′35″N 75°11′38″W / 39.97639°N 75.19389°W / 39.97639; -75.19389Coordinates: 39°58′35″N 75°11′38″W / 39.97639°N 75.19389°W / 39.97639; -75.19389

Pennsylvania Railroad, Connecting Railway Bridge is a stone arch bridge in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that carries Amtrak Northeast Corridor and SEPTA commuter rail lines over the Schuylkill River. It is located in Fairmount Park, just upstream from the Girard Avenue Bridge.

It is also known as Pennsylvania Railroad, New York Division, Bridge No. 69. Other names are the Connecting Railway Bridge, the Connection Bridge, the New York Connecting Bridge, the New York Railroad Bridge, and the Junction Railroad Bridge.


Initial bridge

The bridge was built 1866-67, by the Connecting Railway, a company affiliated with the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR). Its purpose was to connect the PRR's southern and northern lines, and to be part of an eventual direct PRR line from Washington, DC to New York City. Before the bridge's construction, PRR trains took a circuitous route between PRR's West Philadelphia and North Philadelphia Stations.

The bridge was probably designed by John A. Wilson, chief engineer of the Connecting Railway Company, who surveyed the route in 1863. George Brooke Roberts, a PRR engineer, took over the project after Wilson's 1864 resignation, oversaw its whole construction, and later was president of the PRR. Thomas Seabrook was the masonry contractor. It opened to traffic on 2 June 1867. The Connecting Railway became a PRR subsidiary in 1871.[1]

The initial bridge was narrow, only 2 tracks, with an iron truss at mid-river. This was a 236-foot-3-inch-long (72 m) cast- & wrought-iron, arch-reinforced, double-intersection Whipple truss. In 1873, PRR slightly reduced the truss's span by widening the stone piers at each end. Probably at the same time, PRR removed the truss's reinforcing arch. In 1897, PRR replaced the Whipple truss with a Pratt truss of the same length.[2]

Expanded bridge

Max Schmitt in a Single Scull (1871) by Thomas Eakins. The original Connecting Railway Bridge is in the background, with the first Girard Avenue Bridge beyond.

Between 1912 and 1915, PRR more than doubled the width of the bridge to 5 tracks, and replaced the mid-river iron truss with two massive stone arches.[3] Alexander C. Shand was the designer of what was essentially a new bridge, built to look like the original. Eyre, Shoemaker, Inc. was the masonry contractor. Reiter, Curtis & Hill built the reinforced concrete bridges over Lansdowne Drive and West Girard Avenue, and the viaduct curving around the Philadelphia Zoo.[4]

In art

The Connecting Railway Bridge, with its line of stone arches, was a frequent subject for painters. It appears in works by Carl Philipp Weber,[5] Edmund Darch Lewis, Thomas Moran, and, most famously, Max Schmitt in a Single Scull (1871) by Thomas Eakins.



  • Joseph T. Richards, "Replacement of the Old Metal-Span of the Pennsylvania Railroad Bridge over the Schuylkill River at Philadelphia, October 17, 1897," Proceedings of the Engineers' Club of Philadelphia, vol. 14, no. 4 (April 1898), pp. 302-09.
  • Howard W. Schotter, The Growth and Development of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company ... 1846 to 1926 (Philadelphia: Press of Allen, Lane, and Scott, 1927).
  • Justin M. Spivey, Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) No. PA-37, "Connecting Railway, Schuylkill River Bridge", 2001.
  • Jack Boucher, Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) No. PA-6213, "Pennsylvania Railroad, Mantua Junction Viaduct", 1995.
  1. ^ Spivey, pp. 5-6.
  2. ^ Richards, pp. 302-09.
  3. ^ Solomon, Brian (2008). Railroads of Pennsylvania. St. Paul: MBI Publishing Company and Voyageur Press. p. 70. ISBN 9780760332450. 
  4. ^ Spivey, pp. 6-7.
  5. ^ Beth Kephart, Flow: the life and times of Philadelphia's Schuylkill River (2007), p. 101.

See also

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