By Destani Matthews
Knightly News Reporter
Central Penn College has been home to the 148-year-old Henszey’s Wrought Iron Bridge, a historic touch to the campus scenery, for over a decade.
This bridge has been one of the main attractions for not only prospective students, but the school’s surrounding community. The school’s former tagline that interweaved with having the historical piece is “Your Bridge to Success,” as well as making the school logo the outline of the bridge.
Former Central Penn College President Todd A. Milano bid on the bridge for just $22 from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; he was the only bidder. Before giving bridges away, the state first seeks to improve and reuse its historic bridges.
“If it can be rehabilitated, we’ll rehabilitate it – that’s our preference, especially from a historic preservation perspective,” Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) spokesperson Kara Russell told structuremag.com.
According to historicbridges.org, the bridge is 92 feet long, 17 feet wide and 9 feet high. Patented by Joseph G. Henszey in 1869, and built by the Continental Bridge Co. of Philadelphia, the shape of the wrought iron (a tough, pliable form of metal made for forging instead of casting) bridge is both bowstring (the braided steel cable) and arch.
The main purpose of the bridge was to carry Main Street traffic over Trout Creek in Slatington, Lehigh County. It functioned for nearly 80 years, carrying cars and milk trucks – loads heavier than the bridge was meant to hold.
It was later replaced by another bridge and moved to Wanamakers, also in Lehigh County, where it served to carry lighter traffic until the bridge was again moved to Greiner Industries in Mount Joy, Lancaster County, for restoration.
On Jan. 16, 2001, the Pennsylvania Department of General Services informed Central Penn College the school held the winning bid on the bridge. The historic bridge was set up at the college on May 6, 2002. Part of the agreement of buying any of the bridges specifies that they must be restored to meet Pennsylvania’s Secretary of the Interior’s standards.
According to The Washington Post, it’s important having the Henszey’s Bridge on Central Penn’s campus, for historical purposes.
“Historically, truss bridges were made to be moved, so it’s still in keeping with their historic nature to move them,” Russell told the Post.
The bridge’s influence on the spirit of Central Penn continues through appearances in the background of numerous college photos and videos, and the bridge continues to offer a beautiful and functional connection on campus, a unique landmark that no other place in the country has.
To comment on this story or to suggest a story, contact the KnightlyEditors@CentralPenn.edu.
Edited by media club coadviser Prof. Michael Lear-Olimpi.