is the oldest railway
bridge still in use in America. It is located in Lanesboro, Pennsylvania
, in the north-eastern corner of the state.
The bridge was built by the Erie Railroad in 1848. The Erie was building their main line west from New York City-- it eventually reached Chicago, but the Starrucca Creek valley presented a formidable obstacle less than 200 miles out of NYC. After several failed attempts by others, engineer James Kirkwood completed the bridge in November of 1848. The nearby hamlet of Kirkwood, NY, is named after him. The bridge stands a little over 100 feet tall, is 1,040 feet in length, and features 17 stone arches. It crosses Starrucca Creek, two local streets, an abandoned Delaware and Hudson branch line, and towers over the town of Lanesboro. Another bridge, a massive concrete single-arch structure, crosses Pennsylvania Rte. 171 a mile or so to the west.
The bridge remained in the hands of the Erie until 1960, when the Erie was merged into the Erie-Lackawanna. Conrail replaced the EL in 1976, and upon its dissolution, the bridge came under the ownership of Norfolk Southern. Under Conrail and NS, the bridge's importance has diminished somewhat. The former Erie main is still NS's quickest route between New York City and the Great Lakes port of Buffalo, and as such, sees several trains per day, which run mostly at night. The New York, Susquehanna, and Western has intermittently had trackage rights over the bridge.
Driving directions: Starrucca Viaduct is accessible from two major highways, Interstate 81, and New York Route 17. From 81, exit at Great Bend, PA, and take PA 171 in an easterly direction. When you reach Lanesboro, continue straight (instead of following PA 171, which curves right at the first, smaller bridge). From 17, exit at Windsor, NY, and consult a good map.