Almost … a double deck bridge across the Susquehanna River?
Well, you learn something every day.
Wrightsville Bridge No. 4, crossing the Susquehanna River from 1897 through the early 1960s, was equipped to handle a never-built second deck.
That information comes from a booklet marking the Columbia Civil War Centennial, published in 1963.
The lower deck was designed for trains and the upper deck, had it been completed, would have accommodated vehicles. The vehicles in the late 1890s would have been horse-drawn conveyances… .
The iron bridge replaced a wooden covered bridge demolished by a cyclone. That bridge had replaced a wooden covered bridge consumed by a fire — the famous burning of the bridge to stop the rebels from advancing during the Civil War. That bridge had replaced a bridge knocked down by an ice jam.
Bridges 2-4 shared one thing: the same bridge supports, which still run sans bridge across the river.
Bridge No. 4, demolished for scrap, measured 5,300 feet and cost $455,000 to construct.
It was a long detour so workers sprinted to complete the bridge, and it opened for regular use on June 7, 1897.
Train — including the York Express from York to Philadelphia — and automobile use caused traffic jams and prompted the erection of Bridge No. 5 in 1930. The Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge and its newer counterpart, the Wright’s Ferry Bridge, exclusively carry vehicle traffic.
Neither have upper decks.
(For more details, see “Solitary supports cross Susquehanna River” in York Town Square archives.)