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PRR Railroad Bridge - Wampum PA

In 1881 the New Brighton & New Castle Railroad (NB&NC) was incorporated with the intention of building a railway line from New Brighton in Beaver County to New Castle in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania. The track would run from New Brighton up the east side of Beaver River, cross the Connoquenessing Creek at Rock Point and continue to Chewton, cross the Beaver River at Chewton-Wampum, and then continue on up towards New Castle along the west side of the Beaver River.

In August 1884 the double-track railroad bridge at Chewton-Wampum, built jointly with another developing railroad known as the New York, Pittsburgh, & Chicago Railway (NYP&C), was completed and opened for traffic. The NB&NC ran trains across the bridge, but the NYP&C soon went bankrupt and was merged into another railroad company. The NB&NC owned and maintained the south track across the bridge, while the unused second or northern track across the span quickly fell into a state of disrepair.

The NB&NC soon came under the control of the Pittsburgh, Youngstown, & Ashtabula Railroad (PY&A), which was soon under the powerful Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) beginning in 1887. In 1895 the PY&A decided to rebuild the bridge at Wampum with a newer double-track span. The Pennsylvania Steel Company of Steelton, Pennsylvania, which also built the towering Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Bridge just west of Ellwood City, was contracted to build the new span. The original stone piers were left in place and utilized for the new s-shaped bridge, which was known as the PY&A Bridge No. 13 and opened in 1897. In 1903, when the PY&A/PRR completed a double track through the area, trains began running on both tracks across the bridge. Several of steel girder sections of the bridge were replaced in 1914 and 1917.

In 1921 a dispute arose between the P&YA/PRR and the Pittsburgh, Lisbon, & Western Railroad (PL&W), which had absorbed the old NYP&C – which owned part of the original railroad bridge at Wampum. The NYP&C and the PL&W never ran trains across the bridge, but still claimed half ownership. The PY&A/PRR had rebuilt the bridge in 1897, but because they built at the same location (and utilized the original piers) the issue of ownership presented an odd case. The two sides apparently reached some sort of a financial agreement as the PY&A/PRR soon took sole ownership.

The bridge remained in use for the PRR until that railroad was merged in 1968 to form the new Penn Central Transportation Company (Penn Central). Further reorganization saw the bridge come under control of Consolidated Railway Corporation (Conrail) in 1976 and then the Norfolk Southern Railway (NS) in 1999. NS soon decided to replace the old bridge at Wampum and in 2004 work began on constructing a new $10 million bridge right alongside it. The old bridge was demolished beginning on Wednesday, August 17, 2005, and the new bridge – which had a much straighter design – was opened later that year. The modern trains of Norfolk Southern still traverse this bridge on a daily basis.


The railroad bridge at Wampum (on left) was originally built in 1884 but was replaced with a newer span by the PY&A/PRR in 1897 (shown above). The old Wampum Bridge, which carried vehicle traffic, is visible just to the right of the railroad bridge. Lower Chewton is at bottom of photo and Wampum is situated across the Beaver River. (c1905) Full Size


This double-track bridge was constructed in 1897 across the Beaver River by the Pittsburgh, Youngstown & Ashtabula Railroad (PY&A), which was under the umbrella of the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR). The stone piers seen in this photo are from an earlier bridge built in 1884. This bridge, originally known as PY&A Bridge No. 13, was in use until it was demolished in August 2005 and replaced with a newer span by the Norfolk Southern Railway (NS). (1999) Full Size


In August 2005 the Norfolk Southern Railway (NS) tore down the old railroad bridge across the Beaver River (built in 1897) and soon opened a new single-track bridge (shown above) at the same location. The new bridge has a much straighter design than its predecessor. (Mar 2012) Full Size


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Comment

  1. I’ve been trying to find some pictures of the old train station in Wampum. I was in it many times when I was a kid and played down around there. but I can’t seem to find any pictures. larry Walls

    Larry Walls · 10/03/2014 04:40 PM · #