Earliest Known Picture of the
Rausch Gap Stone Arch Bridge, pre-World War I
Photograph Courtesy of
Rausch Gap Stone Arch Bridge in 2004
Photograph By Annette (Watts) Logan
Rausch Gap Stone Arch Bridge in 2011
Photograph By Brandy M. Watts Martin
|Farewell Old Friend|
The Rausch Gap Stone Arch Bridge
The Rausch Gap Stone Arch, one of three known stone arch bridges on the Schuylkill & Susquehanna Railroad, was constructed in 1853 (others were located at Marstown and Rock, both in Schuylkill County and constructed the same year). For years, the bridge was presumably constructed without the use of mortar and completely by hand; however, the now-crumbling bridge tells a different story about its past.
In 2011, as mortar fell from between its interior stones, the history of the bridge was further revealed. The bridge, as we know it, certainly had some mortar and not just for shoring up; as was often the tale from those who saw the bridge decades earliers. Besides the mortar rumor, the bridge was not neccessarily made by hand, but an old-fashioned machine project, liking using man-powered hoisting machines to haul the large stones into place.
Years after the bridge had seen its share of steam locomotive traffic, it became a favorite resting spot for hikers and bikers as they watched Rausch Creek roar overtop of its stony bottom from the bridge's historic top. For safety reasons, the Pennsylvania Game Commission added a railing along its edge and reinforced the bridge with concrete after damage during Hurricane Agnes in 1972.
The bridge, however, would never know what hit it as the waters of Rausch Creek grew more brutal over the years. The torrent of flood waters smashed into the bridge during Hurricane Ivan in 2004, an unnamed storm in 2006, and later during Hurricane Lee in 2011. These storms ripped away its concrete support and much of the bridge’s retaining wall. With its support gone, a hair-line crack (and a few "flash floods") turned the bridge into a pile of rubble.