The massive Starrucca Viaduct carries the Central New York Railroad over Starrucca Creek in Lanesboro, Pennsylvania. The stone arch bridge was constructed for the New York, Susquehanna & Western Railway. The viaduct is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was listed as a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1973.
The New York & Erie Rail Road (NY&E) was chartered in April 1832 to connect Piermont at the Hudson River with Dunkirk at Lake Erie, with construction beginning in 1836. In February 1841, the railroad was authorized to cross into the northeast corner of Pennsylvania on the west side of the Delaware River to avoid the unforgiving terrain of the Catskill Mountains.
Near Lanesville, Pennsylvania, the NY&E needed to cross the wide valley of Starrucca Creek. The railroad considered building an embankment but it was declared impractical. Julius W. Adams, the superintending engineer of construction in the area, hired James P. Kirkwood, a civil engineer who had worked on the Long Island Rail Road, to design a viaduct. 1
The construction of the Starrucca Viaduct between 1847-48 at the cost of $320,000. 1 2 It required the efforts of 800 workers who toiled about $1 per day and the erection of massive falsework to support the building of the arches which required more than 500,000 feet of cored and hewn timbers. The bridge was built of locally quarried random ashlar bluestone with the exception of three brick interior longitudinal spandrel walls and the concrete base of the piers—which may have been the first structural use of concrete in American bridge construction.
The NY&E was completed to Dunkirk in May 1851 where trains were ferried across Lake Erie to Detroit. Unfortunately, the railroad went into receivership due to the large costs of building the line and was reorganized as the Erie Railway in June 1861, as the New York, Lake Erie & Western Railroad (NYLE&W) in 1878, and as the Erie Railroad in 1895.
The cost of breaking bulk cargo in order to interchange with standard gauge lines led the railroad to introduce a line of cars designed to operate either on its broad gauge or the more common standard gauge. But the higher costs of operating dual gauge cars led the NYLE&W to convert the railroad to standard gauge in 1886. As part of the project, the single broad gauge track on the Starrucca Viaduct was replaced with two standard gauge tracks. 1
The only significant work to the viaduct was the addition of a concrete road deck in 1958 and the tuckpointing and cleaning of the stone in 1961. 1
The Erie was merged with the Delaware Lackawanna & Western Railroad to form the Erie Lackawanna (EL) in 1960, which was conveyed to Conrail in 1976, and Norfolk Southern in 1997. The line from Port Jervis to Binghamton was leased to the New York, Susquehanna & Western Railway in 2005.
- State: Pennsylvania
- Route: Central New York Railroad
- Type: Closed Spandrel Arch
- Status: Active - Railroad
- Total Length: 1,040 feet
- Main Span Length: 51 feet
- Deck Width: 26 feet
- Total Height: 100 feet
- Navigational Clearance:
- United States, Congress, Library of Congress. Erie Railway, Delaware Division, Bridge 189.46, Spanning Starucca Creek, East of Susquehanna River, Lanesboro, Susquehanna County, PA, 1968.
- “Starrucca Viaduct.” American Society of Civil Engineers, 2020.
5 thoughts on “Starrucca Viaduct”
Looks to me like there’s one standard gauge track and one narrow gauge.
Did they replace a line later ?
The viaduct was originally built for Erie 6″ gage track. Later it was converted to two standard gage (4’8 1/2″) tracks. Now there is just one. There were never any narrow gage tracks on the viaduct.
The rails you are seeing are to hold the ballast in place to prevent it from sloughing off the side.
Is there a big gorge and tunnel near by this bridge.
The above history is not quite correct. Julius Adams designed the bridge, not Kirkwood. He hired James Kirkwood to build it after the first contractors made little progress. Kirkwood was Adam’s brother-in-law.