Truss Bridge Popsicle Sticks

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Truss bridges became a common type of bridge built from the 1870s through the 1930s. Examples of these bridges still remain across the US, but their numbers are dropping rapidly, as they are demolished and replaced with new structures. As metal slowly started to replace timber, wrought iron bridges in the US started being built on a large scale in the 1870s. Bowstring truss bridges were a common truss design during this time, with their arched top chords. Companies like the Massillon Bridge Company of Massillon, Ohio and the King Bridge Company of Cleveland, Ohio became well-known, as they marketed their designs to cities and townships. The bowstring truss design (photo) fell out of favor due to a lack of durability, and gave way to the Pratt truss design, which was stronger. Again, the bridge companies marketed their designs, with the Wrought Iron Bridge Company in the lead. As the 1880s and 1890s progressed, steel began to replace wrought iron as the preferred material. Other truss designs were used during this time, including the camel-back. By the 1910s, many states developed standard plan truss bridges, including steel Warren pony truss bridges. As the 1920s and 1930s progressed, some states, such as Pennsylvania, continued to build steel truss bridges, including massive steel through-truss bridges for long spans. Other states, such as Michigan, used standard plan concrete girder and beam bridges, and only a limited number of truss bridges were built.