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Mill Street Bridge - New Castle, PA

By 1915 the old Mill Street Bridge, which carried vehicle, street car, and pedestrian traffic from the Croton area across the Neshannock Creek into downtown New Castle, Pennsylvania, was in desperate need of repair or replacement. Temporary repairs were made in the summer of 1915 and a stubborn fight with state officials in Harrisburg, who would have to give final approval for a new bridge, begun in earnest. Meanwhile, the bridge continued to deteriorate and in August 1916 it was placed under restrictions and closed to all street car traffic. Local travel along South Croton Avenue and the surrounding area was hampered as a result.

In late January 1917, after much debate, state officials finally gave the go-ahead to tear down and completely replace the aging structure. The idea to build a pier on the middle of the creek and have several curved spans emanating from it was considered, but eventually a traditional straight span was settled upon. The estimated cost of the new steel truss bridge would be $60,000 and would be owned by the county.

Despite reports to the contrary it was not until April 1919 that the work of demolishing the old bridge finally got underway. Work started on the new bridge soon after but progress was painfully slow at times. A host of obstacles, issues, and delays were encountered along the way and the final cost of the work exceeded $75,000. It finally opened to all traffic including street cars on Sunday, September 5, 1920. With the opening of the span another bridge across the Neshannock Creek, the Jefferson Street Bridge, was closed for long due repairs as well.

By the early 1940’s the floor of the Mill Street Bridge was in dire need of repair and the span was periodically closed for patch work. It must have gotten pretty bad because on Sunday, November 29, 1942, a man named Nick John, who was walking across the bridge, fell though the floor and was hospitalized. Finally in September 1943 the bridge was closed for several months while the original floor was removed and replaced with a new concrete floor.

The sky-blue colored bridge remained in use for many years and after a rehabilitation effort was rededicated as the American Veterans Memorial Bridge on Veteran’s Day, Tuesday, November 11, 1986. By 2005 discussion of replacing the aging span was well underway. Beginning in late January 2013 demolition crews began dismantling the old bridge in preparation for the erection of a new steel-beam and concrete deck bridge at the same location. The new bridge, supported by a single pier in the middle of the creek, was designed so its sidewalls adhered to the look of the nearby Riverwalk Park. It was paid for by federal and state funds. Local traffic was detoured while work continued throughout the year. The new 218-foot-long span was opened to traffic in late December 2013.



To read a July 1916 article about the ongoing issue of the old Mill Street Bridge being unsafe click on: BRIDGE UNSAFE ARTICLE. A month later the bridge was closed to street car traffic. To read about that restriction click on: TRACTION CO WARNED ARTICLE. To read an article about state approval given for a new Mill Street bridge in January 1917 click on: STATE OK’S BRIDGE ARTICLE. To read about a delay in the construction of the new bridge in September 1919 click on: BRIDGE WORK DELAYED ARTICLE. To read an article questioning whether the New Castle Traction Company was delaying progress on the new span click on: DELAYING ARTICLE. To learn more the opening of the new bridge in September 1920 click on: BRIDGE OPENED ARTICLE.


The old Mill Street Bridge was built sometime prior to 1890 and was finally designated for replacement in January 1917. (c1914) Full Size


A postcard showing the old Mill Street Bridge in about 1905. On the left is the waterfront building then occupied by the New Castle Notion Company, and later by the Fisher Bros. Dry Goods Company and other smaller businesses.


Another postcard from 1912 showing the aging Mill Street Bridge. The Rosena Furnace Company, which operated from 1892 until it closed in about 1924, is visible in the center background. Further in the distance to the right you can see the smokestacks of the Carnegie Steel Mill.


A nighttime view of the Mill Street Bridge. (c1915) Full Size


The old Mill Street Bridge, which was replaced with a new span in 1919-20. (c1915) Full Size


The new Mill Street Bridge in downtown New Castle was opened to traffic in September 1920. It was in use until it was torn down in early 2013 to make way for a new span at the same location. (2012)


At the intersection of South Mill Street and Croton Avenue on the south bank of the Neshannock Creek. The tan-colored triangular building at center, once occupied by the New Castle Notion Company, is a mostly-vacant aging landmark. The bridge and building are so close in proximity that they seem like they are actually joined. (Aug 2010)


On this day the bridge, first opened for traffic back in September 1920, was closed due to a classic car show in downtown New Castle. (Aug 2010)


In the distance you can see the Scottish Rite Cathedral, which commands a spectacular view of the city from atop its perch. (Aug 2010)


This bridge was plagued by many issues during its nineteen months of construction and finally opened for traffic in September 1920. (Aug 2010)


A ground-level view of the streetlight and old New Castle Notion Company building. (Aug 2010)


The Scottish Rite Cathedral can be seen as you look down the bridge’s sidewalk. (Aug 2010)


A view of the Neshannock Creek underneath the bridge. (Aug 2010)


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Dismantling of the old Mill Street Bridge began in early 2013 in preparation of a new bridge being erected at the same location. The new bridge will be supported by a single pier (at right of photo) being anchored in the middle of the creek. (Mar 2013) Full Size


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Comment

  1. The old bridge was tore down a few weeks ago and is being replaced once again.

    Keith Ellis · 03/23/2013 11:10 AM · #

  2. Hi, found your site and think its great! I have some videos of the bridge being demolished if you can use them?

    Craig Russo · 01/18/2017 02:05 PM · #