York Town Square

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Narrow Susquehanna River bridge caused wide woes

Jim McCarthy of York remembers inconveniences caused by the old iron bridge that crossed the Susquehanna River between Wrightsville and Columbia.
This was the bridge completed in 1897 and scrapped starting in 1963. It was the fourth bridge crossing the river and the last one sitting on the row of now-abandoned piers still standing in the river.
The bridge was used for railroad and vehicle traffic, but was not wide enough to accommodate both at the same time. When a train crossed, McCarthy recalled, vehicles had to wait, causing sizable tieups.
The trains also kicked up ties and left debris so workers had to police the right of way before the bridge was ready for vehicles… .

McCarthy recalled that Japanese beetles infested York County one summer. Guards were placed on the west side to search vehicles carrying fruit and other items friendly to the beetles.
The tieups were relatively shortlived because construction of the wider, parallel Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge in 1930 gave vehicles a new crossing.
The old iron bridge was undoubtedly built with such a narrow width because workers were under pressure to complete it.
A cyclone the year before knocked down its predecessor, and a replacement was badly needed to alleviate long detours to such crossings at Harrisburg and Conowingo.