New England steel truss road bridges


New member
I'm looking for an asset close to the formerly ubiquitous green steel truss bridges found on the highways here in New England. These were installed in Maine in large quantities in the late 30's after severe flooding in the spring of 1936. It was the standard design and used well after other states stopped using truss bridges of that size. I found a website with a few remaining examples to which I've provided links (Please note that this site is about historic bridges, Maine does have a poor track record of preserving them, and the site does call them on it sharply).

I've taken rail bridges and carefully put a road on top of them and that works pretty well. As far as this particular design, look for truss bridges by austin316hockey. His RRTK bridges are very useful for this.

<kuid:316:400078> RRTK 2T Parker 475ft (5m)
<kuid:316:400073> RRTK 2T Through-truss Castleton, 250ft
<kuid:316:400067> RRTK 1T Through-truss Warren A, 200ft

We too lost a lot of bridges too in my area. Two very historical Warren truss bridges by American Bridge and Iron were destroyed in the last 20-25 years. The Groveland Street bridge (Rt. 97) was a combination of pony truss swing bridge and Warren truss is now a generic concrete drawbridge since 2015. The other South Elm Street was a skewed Warren truss replaced by a generic concrete affair in the mid-2000's.

The flood of '36, caused by a major hurricane did extensive damage throughout New England and forced the B&M to abandon its Georgetown-Haverhill branch in '43 along with other under used lines. There's also a carriage house in Merrimac with a marker near the doorway showing the height of the water above the Merrimack River.
Thanks, I hadn't thought about cramming a road through one of the rail bridges, but I usually use single track ones...
Might work for a 30's-50's era road, narrow lanes (10'/3m or less) and no shoulder was common especially when 96" (2.4m) maximum vehicle width was standard. It can be "lots of fun" to drive a modern truck (102"/2.6m wide) on some of those older parts of infrastructure...

Speaking of which, we are loosing quite a bit of the mid 20th century infrastructure in this area to "improvement" or "modernization" projects, as well as shifts in economics and demographics. Additionally many public policy decisions have made replacement the cheapest (to the LOCAL budget) method.

Boy oh boy, did that flooding of '36 wreck havoc across New England... and then the hurricane in '38; the weather was some wicked in the latter half of the '30s.

Yeah I've encountered some of those bridges up in New Hampshire and western Mass. Pretty scary but very beautiful structures too. We've also lost some classic wooden road bridges that were built by the B&M and MEC in the early part of the last century. When I lived in Andover, MA there was one between Harding Street and Main that went over the B&M tracks. This bridge was quite unique being that the road was quite steep too and the bridge was bent at a steep angle in the middle between the slope. The bridge was slippery to walk on, and when riding a bike there was no way to ride up the hill so pushing a bike was quite difficult. Add to that it became very slippery in the winter since it would glaze over with ice, making the road treacherous. I used to commute that way to work and did a slide on that bridge sideways, which scared me to death. I came within inches of the wooden railings and could have ended up on the ROW below in the ravine!

Our bridges were replaced after years of neglect. The last time the beautiful Groveland bridge was updated was in the mid-1950's. It then sat there rusting away until 2015 when it was torn down. The South Elm Street bridge too was a classic American Bridge and Iron Warren truss as well, however, for years it was painted white. It had a grid surface except for the sidewalks that were wood. In the 1970's it was rebuilt and painted green. The grid too was treacherous in the winter since it would ice over. Being a busy connector between Bradford and Haverhill, the bridge had many skidding accidents on either end due to the stop sign and set of lights respectively.

The flood and '38 hurricane caused a number of significant infrastructure changes in Haverhill. The city and the army corps of engineers built a seawall to prevent the river, which is tidal at that point, from overcoming the city which it did in the flood. Recently some dweeb wanted to pull down the wall and put in a riverwalk. The answer from the mayor was prompt and to the point. NO!

There is good news among this. The Rocks Village Bridge has been recently renovated and restored and is a historically registered bridge. This bridge is a combination of various styles, making it quite different. Including among the styles is also a drawbridge as well. The late Ben Dorsey made one for us to include in Trainz. His model doesn't operate, but it's a great bridge in any case.
Drat... the Rocks Village Bridge didn't fit at all... about a span and a half to long. So, looks like it's back to testing road splines through RR bridges.

Ben did a great job on it, definitely captured the "light" feel to the structural members that makes them so different from the rail bridges we are used to in Trainz. It renders a bit light (or bright) in TRS19, but I'm guessing that has to do with the programs graphics upgrades, as Ben tended to work in '04, as I recall, and I've seen it with other older content. I did hit the street view over it in Google Maps, looks like they did a good job on it.

My favorite bridge in that area is Chain bridge over in Newburyport, mostly because crossing it meant we were on the way to Plum Island, but also because it is a small suspension bridge.
That's too bad you can't use that great bridge, which it is. You are correct regarding the brightness. I think there's a way to fix that, but I'm not sure. The real one is located about 4 miles from where I live and I cross it often on my way between Newburyport and home since we avoid Rt. 97 through Groveland and West Newbury if we can. The old Chain-link bridge too is quite unique. Dave Snow made a spline that's similar to it and I used it represent the real thing on my pseudo-realistic route I've been working on. I took the DEM for Amesbury and Newburyport area and put in tracks where there never were, but anyway yeah crossing that bridge meant we were on the way to the beach.

When I was a kid, the road leading up to the bridge had trolley tracks still embedded in the pavement. The tracks ran along the waterfront from about where Rt. 150 comes in and meets with River Road - near the old Merrimac Hat Company building (now condos), and then left and along the river. I thought about that one day, but a recent trip down that way shows no traces of any of that infrastructure today. All paved over and buried under layers of pavement.
Well, I roughed the scenery to the bridge and left it for now. I suppose I could always pull the old bridge out trick, but it is upstream from the rail bridge... I'll figure it out later.

Interesting about the streetcar tracks, not to surprising though. The only place I know of around here that I've seen what could be streetcar tracks is in Bangor (check the potholes at State St. and Forrest Ave). Now, before the generating companies had to give up their traction lines, there was quite a network and the bigger cities in Maine had lines. In fact the first railroad in Maine to completely convert to diesel locomotive power was the Aroostook Vallley... from electric locomotives.

I recall, once we took a different route when I was young that didn't go across the Chain Bridge, and it wasn't until we were at the sign for the Wildlife Refuge that I could be convinced we hadn't gone completely the wrong way.