|The "New Bridge" in Marshallton, c.1905|
Most of the posts here involve coming up with an idea for a topic, doing some light research, and then passing along what we've been able to learn. Once in a while, though, something of the "Wow, I didn't know that!" variety will pop up out of the blue, or in the course of other research. When something like this happens, I want to pass it along. And as I'm sure you've figured, something like this did happen to me the other day. While doing some reading, I found out that the 110 year old bridge that spanned the Red Clay Creek in Marshallton is still around -- but not in Marshallton. In fact, it has moved twice!
The bridge in question, just one in a string that have graced the site since the late 1700's, was built across the Red Clay Creek on what is now Newport Road at the base of Duncan Road right about 1900. It is what is known as a pin-connected Pratt pony truss bridge, and in its original configuration had five panels that spanned 57'6''. The postcard above shows the bridge in its Marshallton location, just a few years after it was built. For its time, it was a modern and impressive bridge, one befitting the importance of the road it carried. Although the road now seems fairly small and out of the way, in 1900 it was part of what was known as the Lincoln Highway -- the main east-west route through Mill Creek Hundred, and from Wilmington to Newark and beyond. Kirkwood Highway would not be built for four decades, and even the Marshallton Cut-Off (the section of Old Capitol Trail between Newport Road and Stanton Road that rerouted traffic around "downtown" Marshallton) was not opened until 1931.
The bridge served Marshallton for 25 years, actually the shortest stay in any of its now three locations. In 1925, it was replaced by a concrete and steel bridge and moved to its second home, again spanning Red Clay Creek. This time, though, it did it several miles upstream, on Mt. Cuba Road, west of (the then just being constructed) Hoopes Reservoir. The bridge stayed there for 45 years, until it was purchased by a private owner in 1970.
|View of the bridge in 1921, still in Marshallton|
|Bridge's current location|
Additional Facts and Related Thoughts:
- There's a mention in the 1858 "Journal of the House of Representatives of the State of Delaware" that may give tiny clue about the earlier bridge. Listed is an appropriation of $440 for "rebuilding bridge over Red Clay Creek, near Marshall's". I would assume this would have to refer to this same bridge site. It doesn't give any clues as to what type of bridge it was, but it does tell us that an older bridge was replaced in 1858, probably by the one then replaced by the Pratt pony truss around 1900.