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Full text of "The history and construction of the cast iron bridge over the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks at Ruxton, Maryland / G.B. Coe."

This folder also contained 2 blueprints that were too large to scan. 



file:///X|/Special%20Collections/purgatory/Phi%20Mu/Coe.%20G.%20B/blueprint.txt[4/8/2011 11:47:06 AM] 



THE HISTORY AND CONSTRUCTION OF THE CAST IRON BRIDGE 
OVER THE PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD TRACKS AT RUXTON. MARYLAND, 



G. B. Coe 



Thesis for Tau Beta Pi Initiation 



January 15, 1932, 



THE HISTORY AND CONSTRUCTION OF THE CAST IRON BRIDGE 
OVER THE PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD TRACKS AT RUXTON, MARYLAND. 



THE HISTORY 

There seems to be a certain element of mystery 
concerning the history of this bridge, as nobody knows 
anything about it. The county officials complain 
that because of no storage space "records were not 
kept." The Pennsylvania Railroad, after searching its 
files very carefully, "finds nothing", yet admits that 
they built It in 1888 and then gave It to the county. 
Perhaps there is a reason for this, as will be offered 
later on. 

The bridge is at Ruxton, Maryland, a community 
approximately sixteen miles north of Baltimore, three 
miles east of Towson, and one mile south of Riderwood, 
in Baltimore County, and on the Pennsylvania Railroad. 
It is a highway bridge located about five-hundred feet 
from the railroad station leading from Bellona Avenue 
(which parallels the railroad from the Joppa Road), 
across the tracks into the residential section of Ruxton. 

To go back to the beginning, the history of 
Ruxton itself is so linked with that of the bridge that 
It is necessary to discuss the former. An extract from 



- 2 - 



the Baltimore Sun, June 9, 1914, read as follows: 

To the Editor of the Sun: Sir: 
« * & it In the winter of 1884-1885 Judge 
William A. Fisher and Mr. Charles Fisher 
purchased a tract of land on the west side 
of the Northern Central Railroad,* which 
was known as the Hiser property. The 
original grant to the land had been given 
to Colonel Nicholas Ruxton Moore, an 
officer of the Revolution, whose home it 
was and who lies buried under a tree on 
Mrs. William Fisher's place. # # * » 

After its purchase by Messrs. Fisher 
arrangements were made with the railroad 
authorities for a station which was named 
Ruxt on . ## 

It was through the efforts of these 
gentlemen that the beautiful bridge span- 
ning the railroad was buit. 

(Signed) An Old Resident. 

According to C, H. McComas, the first station 
agent at Ruxton, and an old resident of the town, the 
origin of Ruxton is correct. Before the purchase, 
merely a private grade crossing over the railroad 
tracks led to the Hiser property, which consisted of 
a few farms, and farm houses. 

The Messrs. Fisher had dreams of converting 
this farm into a beautiful and aristocratic suburb, 
a home and playground for the wealthy. With its splen- 
did topography and natural water supply, he succeeded. 



--•Win. B. Sipes in his book "Pennsylvania Railroad- 
Historical and Descriptive" states "« -»- it (the 
Pennsylvania Railroad) purchased several years ago 
a controlling interest in the Northern Central Rail- 
road. 1875. 

** Extract from Annual Report to Stockholders 1890, 
Northern Central Railroad. "A stone passenger station 
and dwelling for agent is in the course of construction 
at Ruxton." 





















- 3 - 


The 


na 


ture of 


the 


development 3 


.a reflected 


in 


the 


design 


of 


the 


bridge . 


1! 


*■** through 


the 


efforts 


of 


the: 


3e gentle- 



men" the Northern Central took upon Itself to build this 
bridge, and, stange to say, it was cast and fabricated 
in their own shops instead of being let by contract. 
Then it was given to Baltimore County. 

According to the Bureau of Economics, the railroads 
were required by law to stand half of the expense of these 
highway bridges, but why should the Northern Central pay 
all of it? Why does not the item appear in the "Report 
to the Stockholders" for 1888 along with the other con- 
struction items? Why cannot the Auditor of Disbursements 
find any account of it in his old records? Why does the 
County have no records of it? Why does no item concern- 
ing It appear in the contemporary newspapers of the time? 

In the writer's opinion, this Is explained by the 
following extract from the Baltimore "American" of 
January 21, 1888, In an article called "Changes In Tax 
Laws", a report presented to the Legislature. It reads 
"The case of the exemption (from taxes) of the Northern 
Central Railroad is still more flagrant than that of the 
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad". Is It not an easy thing 
for "these gentlemen" being influential in politics to say 
to the Railroad "see here, if you will stand all of the 
expense of this bridge, we will see that you have less 
tax to pay. The County Commissioner is our friend."? 



- 4 - 



Perhaps the Railroad made the proposition. Who knows? 
Somebody knows, but in response to inquiries they say 
that "no records were kept" or "the data requested are 
not available". "Better let sleeping dogs lie" still 
applies evidently in modern day as well as in Aesop's 
time. 

The bridge is in the same condition as when 
originally built, except, on authority of Mr. Grayson, 
County Road Engineer, the wooden floor has been replaced 
and the metal painted once within his knowledge. 

Ru.xton has outgrown its local water supply and 
must bring water supply from outside sources. The added 
truss on the south side of the bridge carries a water 
main. This can be clearly seen in the photograph. 

Although the highway and approaches to the 
bridge were turned over to the State Roads Commission 
about three years ago, the bridge still belongs to the 
County. Both County and Commission deny rumors of 
replacement . 



- 5 - 

THE CONSTRUCTION 

The bridge Is of the form of a "through truss", 
72 feet, 4 Inches long; 2 4 feet wide and consists of 
thirteen bays 5 feet 4 inches and two end bays of 20 
inches . 

The top chord is a cast iron cap patterned after 
Greek architecture. The columns are double, spaced 
9-1/4 inches apart, tied together by. diagonals and cast 
as a single unit. These columns again reflect Grecian 
art, as they resemble a Doric temple column. The bases 
and the capitals of the columns are cast integral v/ith 
the lower chord plates and the upper chord respectively. 

The columns are hollow and are assembled to the 
chords by bolts running vertically the entire length and 
protruding through the top and bottom chords. 

Diagonal braces consist of huge bolts, or the 
rods, diameter 2-1/4 inches one way and 1 inch diameter 
the other way. These are brought through the chords and 
secured by a nut against bearing blocks. 

The lower chord consists of four flat wrought Iron 
members, 7-1/4 by o/4 inches and spaced 4 inches apart, 
bolted and spaced by bushings. 

Floor beams are 12 x 5 inch I beams 12 feet apart. 
They carry a double wooden floor. 

Knee braces of T bars 5 x 2-1/4 Inches connecting 
the truss with the floor beams are provided. 



- 6 - 



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS : - : 



Mr. Ellis, Information Bureau, 
"Baltimore Sun" 

The Maryland Historical Society 
Contemporary papers . 

Mr. Johnson, Librarian 

Bureau of Railway Economics 

Mr. H. J. Walker, Auditor of Disbursements, 
Pennsylvania Railroad. 

Division Engineer, Baltimore, Md. 
Pennsylvania Railroad. 

Mr. Grayson, Road Engineer, Baltimore County 
Towson, Maryland. 

Mr. G. H. Mc Comas, Former Station Agent, 
Ruxton, Maryland. 

Mr. H. G. Shirley, Former Road Engineer, Baltimore County, 
Richmond, Virginia. 

Miss E. M. Keefer, for general assistance, 
Baltimore, Maryland. 

Librarian, Enoch Pratt Library, 
Baltimore , Maryland . 



- 7 - 



COPY 



Route #3, Anacostia, 
Washington, D, C., 
December 19, 1931. 



Mr. H. G. Shirley, 

Commissioner, State Highway Commission, 

Richmond, Virginia. 

Dear Sir: 

I am communicating with you upon the sug- 
gestion of Mr. Grayson, Road Engineer of Baltimore 
County. 

I am writing a paper for the University of 
Maryland upon "The History and Construction of the 
Cast Iron Bridge Across the Pennsylvania Railroad at 
Ruxton, Maryland," built in 1888 by the railroad and 
given to the county. 

Mr. Grayson think: s that you can give me some 

information upon it. 

to 

Any facts a^ its construction, maintenance, 

or of the transaction, or anything else will be 
appreciated. 

Thanking you in advance, I am 

Yours respectfully, 

(Signed) G, B. Coe. 



- 8 - 
COPY 



Route #3, Anacostla, 
Washington, D. C, 
December 19, 1931. 



Mr. H. J. Walker, 
Audit or of Disbursements, 
Pennsylvania Railroad, 
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

Dear Sir: 

I am communicating with you upon the sug- 
gestion of the Division Engineer in Baltimore. 

lam writing a paper for the University of 
Maryland upon "The History and Construction of the 
Cast Iron Bridge across the Pennsylvania Railroad at 
Ruxton, Maryland" built in 1888 by the railroad (then 
the Northern Central) and given to Baltimore County. 

Any information upon the subject would be 
appreciated; the engineers in charge of its con- 
struction, the cost and the county transaction, and 
anything else of information. 

Thanking you In advance, I am 

Yours respectfully, 
(Signed) G. B. Cos 



COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA 

DEPARTMENT OF HIGHWAYS 



H. G. SHIRLEY, Commissioner 

WADE H. MASS1E. Washinston, V*. 

t. WALKE TRUXTUN, NORFOLK, V*. 

WM. H. EAST, Ft. F. O. No. 3, STAUNTON, VA. 

H. G. GILMER, NORTON. V*. 



RICHMOND 



IN REPLY PLEASE REFER TO 



C. S. MULLEN, Chief engineer 

F. D HENLEY. RIGHT OP Wat Engineer 

E. F. APPEL. PURCHASING AGENT 

C. J. ALLARD, Auditor 

J. F. HAUL, Counsel 



ROUTE NO. 



PROJECT NO. 



December 22, 1931. 



Mr. J. B. Coe, 

Rt. § 3, Anacostia St a., 

"Washington, D, C. 

Dear i ; ir. Coe; 

I was koad Engineer of Baltimore bounty 
quite a number of years, but the old Cast Iron Bridge 
built over the i-lorthern Central Railroad Company 
tracks near Huxton Station was in place when I took 
charge of County work in 1904. I think you would have 
to get this information from the Pennsylvania Railroad 
Company as this bridge has been up quite a number of 
years and I have no knowledge of its construction. 



HGS-ml 



Sincerely yours, 
Commissioner. 






















^ 



F J FELL.Jpf , 

Vice President and Comptboll« 



W. B KRAFT. 



J.T. DAVIS. 

Additoa o* Freight Traffic 

C.E WAftO, 

Auditor orpAEOEUG[nTB».Tfic 
H, J. WALKER. 

AuO I TOR OrtliuuniCM iNTfl 






- Jw4&&$Atffs, December £3, 1931, 



In Reply Refer to Dept. 471 
File 



Mr* G,B. Coe 

H / #3, inacostia Station 

Washington, D.C. 

Dear Sir: 

Referring to your letter of December 19, 1931, requesting in- 
formation relative to the original construction of bridge over 
the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks at Ruxton, Md., which was 
constructed in 1888« 

He have made a search of our records in order to assist you, 
but regret to advise that the date requested is not available. 

Yours truly, 

H.J. Walker 




ALL, 



r of Disbursements. 
















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BRIDGE FROM SOUTH 
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