View of Pennsylvania Rail Road Bridge


View of Pennsylvania Rail Road Bridge


Benjamin Franklin Smith
American, 1830–1927
Printed by P. S. Duval, Philadelphia.


circa 1850


In order to complete its main line, the initial railway between Philadelphia and Pittsburg, the Pennsylvania Railroad needed to cross the Susquehanna River at some point between Harrisburg and the mouth of the Juniata River, where the tracks would then follow the Juniata west as far as Hollidaysburg. The line could parallel the Pennsylvania Canal along the east bank of the Susquehanna from Columbia north only to Rockville, about five miles above Harrisburg, where the bank became too narrow to support the canal and the tracks. The PRR was then forced to span the Susquehanna at Rockville, constructing a spectacular single-track wooden bridge that extended nearly 4000 feet to the west bank, just below Marysville.

Completed in 1849, the first bridge at Rockville, depicted here in what was probably its first few years of operation, stood until 1877, when an iron-trussed bridge with two tracks replaced it. In 1902, a four-track stone arch bridge was built just down stream from the 1877 structure, and is still in use today.

Adapted from the entry written by Judith Hansen O'Toole for the 1980 Pennsylvania Prints exhibition catalogue.


Palmer Museum of Art, The Pennsylvania State University, Partial gift and purchase from John C. O’Connor and Ralph M. Yeager




John C. O'Connor and Ralph M. Yeager Collection, Palmer Museum of Art, The Pennsylvania State University


This image is posted publicly for non-profit educational uses, excluding printed publication. Other uses are not permitted.


Lithograph with hand coloring; 24-7/16 x 33-1/8 in. (62.1 x 84.2 cm)


United States, Pennsylvania, Dauphin (county), Harrisburg