The coming of the railroad to Harrisburg in 1836 led to the construction of the first bridges to span the Susquehanna, since the building of the Camelback Bridge in 1817, which planted the seed for what would become the city's trademark of distinctive river crossings. The Cumberland Valley Railroad was one of several infant railroads, prior to being consolidated with the Pennsylvania Railroad in the mid 19th Century, to emanate from Harrisburg, helping to make the city become one of the nation's principal rail centers. The Railroad's first rail crossing, a wooden covered bridge, was erected here in 1839. The original structure was destroyed by fire in 1844, rebuilt in 1846 and renovated and upgraded in 1856, 1872 and 1885. In 1887, the old wooden covered span was replaced by an open iron truss bridge, which by then served dozens of trains daily. The present concrete structure was completed c. 1916. Although abandoned for rail use over the past several decades, the bridge is poised to be the principal crossing for the Corridor One rail commuter system to serve the renewed rail needs of the metropolitan area and of Harrisburg's west shore. Immediately to the south of the Cumberland Valley Bridge, a similar iron truss structure was erected in 1891 by the Reading Railroad Company, originally known as the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad Company. The existing graceful-arched concrete mate to the Cumberland Valley Bridge replaced the iron truss bridge in 1922. These bridges and their predecessors established the routes of the mighty railroads through Harrisburg, ensuring that the Capital City was a principal junction for the flow of the nation's commerce and trade.
Circa 1900 postcard view of iron truss bridge later replaced by the existing concrete structure.
Pre-1887 view of the old covered bridge later replaced by the iron truss structure.