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Fink Through Truss Bridge
Society
Main Category
Sub Category
Era
Date Created
Location Country
us
Coordinates
40.605581, -74.90689
City
Hamden
State
Country
Zip

"Fink's truss design was one of a number of early patented solutions to [the problem of how] to carry a massive, moving weight (a train) over long spans (to avoid the expense of building piers and obstructing waterways) on easily erected bridges (often in rough terrain) with good long-term economy..." 
 - Kent Farnow Smith, "America's Oldest Functioning Iron-Truss Bridge," 1978

The widespread popularity in the 1850s and 1860s of the Fink through truss bridge, constructed from a design patented in 1854 by architect and civil engineer Albert Fink, represents a critical period in the evolution of civil engineering in America. With railroads expanding dramatically, a replacement for wooden bridges was needed that could be built quickly, cheaply, and with a reasonable assurance that it would survive for an extended length of time.

Fink's design combines elementary principles of bridge design with a practical application of available materials - cast and wrought iron - for the most efficient solution to building long-span bridges quickly and economically. By the mid-1870s, Fink's through truss bridges were eclipsed as bridge building grew more sophisticated, and steel emerged as a material better suited to bridge construction. The last of the Fink-designed bridges remaining in use was the 100-foot-long span at Hamden, New Jersey, which survived until 1978, when it was damaged in a vehicle collision. It has since been dismantled and stored for future restoration.

Although destroyed in 1978 by a car collision, at the time of its dedication the Fink Through Truss Bridge was possibly the oldest metal truss bridge in the nation.
Image Credit
Courtesy Library of Congress
Image Caption
This bridge is an example of the Fink truss, the most efficient solution to building long-span bridges quickly and economically during its time.
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