Conceived as one of the major structures on the Prussian Eastern Railway, the Old Wisla Bridge at Tczew originally consisted of six wrought iron spans. Due to Germany's invasion of Poland at the beginning World War II in 1939, only three original spans remain today. These remaining spans represent a unique technical monument of civil engineering achievements in the mid-nineteenth century.
Carl Lentze, chief engineer of the Wisla Bridge, undertook two study trips to Great Britain where he visited several construction sites including the sites of the Britannia Bridge in Wales and a lattice bridge construction site in Ireland. He also read reports of the wooden lattice bridges then being built in the United States. After he completed his research, Lentze decided to use a lattice truss design instead of the wrought iron tubular design of the Britannia. This would lower both the weight and wind drag of the bridge. The result was, when opened on October 12, 1857, the Wisla Bridge at Tczew became the first long span beam bridge on the European mainland.