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Fink Deck Truss Bridge

Lynchburg, Virginia
Built circa 1870

Claim to Fame: The Fink Deck Truss Bridge is a unique survivor of a truss system widely used between 1854 and 1875. This all cast and wrought iron system was patented by Albert Fink in 1854.

Fink Deck Truss Bridge

The Fink Deck Truss Bridge is thought to have been originally used on the Norfolk and Western mainline railway. It was moved to its present location and converted to a vehicular bridge over a railroad spur in 1893 when the Norfolk and Western mainline was moved. It was relocated again in 1985 to Lynchburg's Riverside Park to serve as a pedestrian bridge.

As railroads expanded throughout the U.S. in the mid-19th century, engineers raced to design bridges that were stronger and longer, without adding too much weight. A number of truss systems were developed, including two patented designs by Albert Fink:  the Fink Deck Truss, in which most of the supporting members were below the deck, and the  Fink Through Truss , in which the truss members were above the deck. 

The Fink Deck Truss Bridge in Lynchburg is the only survivor in the U.S. of this truss system that was widely used from 1854 to 1875. The patented truss bridge was a uniquely American structural engineering solution to the need for long-span railroad bridges to carry heavy loads. Important to the early days of railroading in America, the Fink truss bridges contributed significantly to the nation's growth and economy.

Facts
The Fink Deck Truss Bridge, built circa 1870, is thought to have been originally used on the Norfolk &Western mainline. It was moved to its present location and converted to a vehicular bridge over a railroad spur in 1893 when the Norfolk and Western mainline was moved. It was relocated again in 1985 to Lynchburg's Riverside Park to serve as a pedestrian bridge.

The truss consists of vertical and diagonal members (that are in tension) of wrought iron, while the top chord, supporting bents and floor systems, are of wood. The upper chord is untreated oak about 14 inches by 15 inches in size.

Finks truss configuration was used widely in railroad bridges, including large structures such as the Green River Bridge south of Elizabethtown, Kentucky and the 14th Street Bridge across the Ohio River at Louisville, Kentucky.

Albert Fink and his brother, Henry, arrived in Baltimore, Maryland from Germany in 1849. He was initially employed by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad as principal assistant to Benjamin Latrobe, along with Wendel Bollman, another notable bridge builder. The Fink truss was adopted by Latrobe for all bridges on the B&O Railroad and the Parkersburg Branch.

Albert Fink served as President of the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1880.