✨On This Day In History✨
On September 29, 1896, the Cedar Keys Hurricane ripped through Central Pennsylvania with gale-force winds and torrential rain. It left a wake of destruction, leveling barns, trees, and the 1869 Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge. It was so powerful that it swept the massive bridge from its piers, with some of the pieces landing near the iron furnaces south of Marietta.
The powerful and destructive tropical cyclone had begun a few days earlier in Florida’s Cedar Keys. The storm’s rapid movement allowed it to maintain much of its intensity after landfall and cause significant damage over a broad area. As a result, it became one of the costliest United States hurricanes at the time.
1894 map of Columbia, Pennsylvania$27.99 – $34.99
The bridge was the third to span the Susquehanna at Columbia.
The Pennsylvania Railroad began construction of the 5,390 feet long in 1868. The covered bridge was completed the following year at a cost of $400,000 ($8,794,000 today). Constructed of stone, wood, and steel, the mile-long structure contained 27 piers, a carriageway, a railway, and a walkway.
Planning Your Visit
From the Lancaster County side, you can see and access one of the piers of the old Columbia–Wrightsville Bridge by walking beneath the current Veterans Memorial bridge from the Columbia Crossings parking lot. Here are the GPS coordinates: 40.031615, -76.510026.