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1894 Montour Bridge

no. 1 Ohio River Back Channel Bridge

"Montour Bridge"

It is a proud day for Coraopolis... when she found herself annexed to Pittsburgh by electric railway. The greater Pittsburgh is not yet under one municipal head, but the various parts are being surely and steadily linked together.
— 27 July 1894 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (p.4)

Postcard from 1907.

  • In Use: 1894-1927
    • July 26, 1894: formal opening
  • Spanned Coraopolis to Neville Island
  • Toll Bridge constructed by Coraopolis and Neville Island Electric Railway
  • For use by foot passengers, general traffic, and street railway line
  • Built by Wrought Iron Bridge Company of Canton, Ohio (which was later consolidated into the American Bridge Company in 1900). They specialized in short span iron truss bridges.
    • Charles N. Kuntz, Purchasing Agent
    • W.H. Bender, Construction Engineer
    • Work commenced: October 1893
    • July 25, 1894: the last spike is driven, first car crosses new bridge
  • Constructed after the style of the Sixth Street bridge over the Allegheny River
  • Cost: accounts vary from $47,000 to $50,000 (the entire road cost $150,000, leading to some further confusion with the figures)
  • Bridge is 1,028 feet long
    • 50 feet above the roadbed
    • Elevated above the Montour Railway tracks 21 feet
    • 19 feet of roadway, connected by 10 spans, three on the camel-back system
    • 3 Pennsylvania trusses, each 248 feet long
    • 4 small pony trusses
    • 2 plate girders spanned the railroad tracks on the Coraopolis side

formal opening of bridge, july 26, 1894

It was a gathering of the old and young, the rich and the poor, the native and the guest, all intent upon rejoicing with the people of Coraopolis on the completion of the new bridge and the direct connection of the town with the City of Pittsburgh... It was a time of handshaking, speech-making, lunch-eating and general enjoyment.
— 27 July 1894 "Added a Suburb" Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette, p1.
  • Festivities run from noon until 5:00 p.m. in the Orchard of Jacob F. Ferree
  • Master of Ceremonies: William H. Guy
  • Welcome Address: William F. Tredway, Esq.
  • Burgess Curry of Coraopolis attended
  • Prayer was offered by Rev. Mr. Kirk of the Pittsburgh Presbytery
To-day the Pittsburgh, Neville Island & Coraopolis Railway Company celebrates the opening of its railway. In behalf of the company we welcome all who are here. Those who laughed at our folly when we organized the company; those who said we were building ‘castles in the air;’ those who said there was not enterprise enough in the community to ever build the road; those who said it will never pay; those who said ‘they are mad and know not what they do’ - these and all these are welcome. Then to those who, when the road was contracted for, stood by and said, ‘Now watch it fail;’ those who said, “They can never sell their bonds;’ those who said, ‘It will go the way of the Squirrel Hill road’ - all these are welcome. Those who, when the road was completed to the foot of Neville Island and had its cars running to that point, said ‘Now the road is assured and cannot possibly be defeated; we have the road assured through the kindness and contributions of those neighbors; now let us annoy the company all we can’ - these few, too, are welcome to the opening; welcome to the rights of the cars; welcome to the baskets and dinner served. The community that has had the courage and stick-to-it-iveness to build a street railway twelve miles long through the country into the quondam hamlet of Middletown, now Coraopolis, is broad enough in mind and good enough in heart to forget on this day it celebrates the opening of the street railway, the culmination and consummation of the greatest local enterprise of the whole Ohio river valley lying within the county of Allegheny and perhaps in Western Pennsylvania - this community, I say, is broad enough in mind and good enough in heart to forgive its common enemy and welcome him here on this our festival day.
— William F. Tredway, Welcome Address, quoted in 27 July 1894 "Added a Suburb" Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette, p1.
  • Speeches:
    • Rev. Josiah Dillon "Public Thoroughfares and Modes of Transportation"
    • W.P. Potter, Esq. "Modern Rapid Transit" 
      • "The first electric car, he said, was moved in Richmond, Va., seven years ago and the second electric road in the United States was constructed in Allegheny one year later." (27 July 1894 "Added a Suburb" Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette, p2.)
    • J.W. Arras "How it Came About"
    • William McGarrey, Esq. "Neville Island's Future"
    • Charles E. Cornelius, Esq. "Coraopolis Then and Now"
    • Seward H. Thompson, Esq. "To-Morrow"
      • "If it were possible to construct an electric line from earth to heaven so that the weary children of men might be landed at the Beautiful Gate for a nickel each, and were such an enterprise to be undertaken, there would be opposition to it. Some would refuse to give the right of way through the air and others would get out an injunction against the company to restrain them from interfering with God's sunlight. The car of progress has been obliged to run over about half the human race." (27 July 1894 "Added a Suburb" Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette, p2.)
  • Music by Great Eastern Band, the bands of Hays Post No. 3, Grand Army of the Republic
  • Over 2,000 invitations issued; attendance accounts vary, but between 1,500-5,000 people attended
Great tables had been erected under the old apple trees of Orchard Park and these were loaded with the provisions contributed by the inhabitants of the town and island. Everybody enjoyed the excellent lunch under the trees. The affair was a gastronomic poem.
— 27 July 1894 "Added a Suburb" Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette, p2

  • January 31, 1917: Seven people injured when a Sewickley express car crashed through the Montour Bridge, falling 20 feet. (1 Feb 1917, The Pittsburgh Post, No. 145, p. 2.)

Photographs of bridge courtesy of Allegheny Public Works Dept

Special thanks to David Wright and Tim Killmeyer for their efforts in preserving and making available the photographs.

Left to Right:

  • The Coraopolis approach to the Montour Bridge taken 5 Mar 1927.
  • The Montour Bridge Toll House operated by the Coraopolis and Neville Island Electric Railway.
  • Looking down along Ferree Street toward the Montour Bridge on 20 Apr 1927.
  • The Neville Island approach to the Montour Bridge taken 3 Mar 1927.

Left to Right:

  • The Coraopolis approach to the Montour Bridge taken 2 Feb 1927.
  • The Coraopolis approach to the Montour Bridge taken 3 March 1927.
  • The Coraopolis approach to the Montour Bridge looking up 4th taken 20 Apr 1927.

(Click on image to enlarge.)


  • Bridge was ultimately demolished, soon after the 1927 "Recycled Bridge" was placed into operation from Neville Island to Coraopolis

Recycled Bridge can be seen in the forefront, just after it was moved to this location. In the background, one of the last images taken of the Montour Bridge, before it was dismantled.  (The left foreground of the photo is the Montour Junction P&LE stop.)

  • June 26, 1928 "Petition for a decree of dissolution was made by Coraopolis and Neville Island Bridge Company... It states that the toll bridge the company formerly maintained has been taken over by Allegheny county through condemnation proceedings, to be supplanted by a new bridge." (27 Jun 1928 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, v. 1, n. 232, p. 6).
  • July 26, 1928 "Judge Marshall also signed a dissolution decree for the Coraopolis & Neville Island Bridge Company, which operated the toll bridge." (26 July 1928 PIttsburgh Post-Gazette (v. 1, n. 307, p. 4).

In this photo, the 1894 streetcar bridge can be seen in the background

Click below to read original source material: