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Starrucca Viaduct

Starrucca Viaduct
A 1920 picture of the Starrucca Viaduct.
Carries Two tracks of the New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway
Crosses Starrucca Creek
Locale Lanesboro, Pennsylvania
Maintained by New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway
Design Stone arch bridge
Total length 1,040 feet (320 m)
Width Two tracks
Longest span Seventeen spans of 50 feet (15 m)
Clearance below 100 feet (30 m)
Opened 1848

Starrucca Viaduct is a stone arch bridge that spans Starrucca Creek near Lanesboro, Pennsylvania, in the United States. At the time of its construction, the bridge was thought to be the most expensive railway bridge in the world, at a cost of $320,000 (equal to $8,722,462 today). It was the largest stone rail viaduct in the mid-19th century and is still in use.


  • Construction 1
  • See also 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


It was designed by Julius W. Adams and James P. Kirkwood and built in 1847-1848 by New York and Erie Railroad, of locally-quarried random ashlar bluestone, except for three brick interior longitudinal spandrel walls and the concrete base portions of the piers and deck covering. This may have been the first structural use of concrete in American bridge construction.

The viaduct was built to solve an engineering problem posed by the wide valley of Starrucca Creek. The railroad initially considered building an embankment, but abandoned the idea because it was impractical. The Erie Railroad was well-financed by British investors, but even with money available, most American contractors at the time were incapable of the task. Julius W. Adams, the superintending engineer of construction in the area, hired James P. Kirkwood, a civil engineer who had previously worked on the Long Island Rail Road. Accounts differ as to whether Kirkwood worked on the bridge himself, or whether Adams was responsible for the plans with Kirkwood working as a subordinate*. It took 800 workers, each paid about $1 per day, equal to $27.26 per day today, to complete the bridge in a year. The falsework for the bridge required more than half a million feet of cored and hewn timbers.

*Edward Suffern (1810-1877) was the first graduate engineer in the world, per Ripley's, having graduated from RPI in 1835. He was an engineer employed by Mr. Adams and did day-to-day work in charge of a company of men building this viaduct. He kept a daily journal in which he described purchasing woodlots and quarries; of lying awake the night they poured cement for the viaduct; of labor unrest among the workers, etc. This journal is in transcription and will be published when transcription is completed.

The bridge has been in continual use for more than a century and a half, and is still in use by the Norfolk Southern Railway. In 2005 Norfolk Southern leased the portion of the line from Port Jervis, New York to Binghamton, New York to the Delaware Otsego Corporation, which operates it under the name Central New York Railway. The only railroad currently using it is DO's New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway. The viaduct is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.

See also


  • Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) No. PA-6, "Erie Railway, Delaware Division, Bridge 189.46"
  • Starrucca Viaduct at Structurae. Retrieved on 2006-06-16.
  • Plowden, David (2002). Bridges: The Spans of North America. New York: W. W. Norton.  
  • American Society of Civil Engineers, Reston, VA. "Starrucca Viaduct." Historic Civil Engineering Landmarks. Accessed 2013-10-04.
  • "Erie has Largest Stone Bridge" (PDF). Erie Railroad Magazine: 11. August 1939. Retrieved 2011-10-13. 
  • Brown, Jeff L. (January 2014). "Rock Solid: Stone Arch Bridges of the 1840s". Civil Engineering (Reston, VA: American Society of Civil Engineers): 44–47.  

External links

  • Susquehanna County (Pa), Bridges to the Future
  • Starrucca Viaduct, ASCE Engineering Projects
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