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Thursday, 02 February 2017 20:56

Matsonsford Bridge

One of Conshohocken’s landmarks is the Matsonsford Bridge, seen in its 1872 iteration in the photo below.

Conshohocken981

This was not the first bridge over the Schuylkill River at Matsonsford (or Matson’s Ford).  Peter Matson built a ford of stones and planks across the river near his farm in the 18th Century.  A couple of decades later, Washington’s pickets, under General James Potter, exchanged gunfire with British troops out of Philadelphia foraging for food.  A small skirmish resulted.  Meanwhile, American troops under General John Sullivan had built a rough sort of bridge so the men could cross the cold river (it was December 11, 1777).  Unfortunately, the battle was not an American victory.  When scouts reported that the American militia had retreated chaotically, Sullivan pulled the troops back and destroyed the makeshift bridge.  The Continentals moved a few miles upriver to cross at Swede’s Ford, while the British left the area to continue foraging.

GeneralJohnSullivanByTenney

A covered bridge was built by the Matsonford Bridge Company in 1833, but I don’t have a picture of that.  It fell into disrepair after a few decades and was replaced by the steel bridge at the top of the article in 1872.

By the 1920’s, traffic over the bridge had changed from horses and carts to automobiles and a new, more modern bridge was needed.  The new Matsonsford Bridge opened in 1921.  With its dramatic arches, the bridge had a graceful and memorable look.

Conshohocken982Conshy Fayette street

But the speed and volume of 20th century traffic proved too much for the bridge and it was again rebuilt in 1987.  I guess we’ll see how long it lasts.

 

 

Sources:

Coll, Jack, Remembering Conshohocken and West Conshohocken, Arcadia Publishing, 2010.

McGuire, Thomas, J. The Philadelphia Campaign, volume II Germantown and Roads to Valley Forge, Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, Pa., 2006

Published in Found in Collection