John D. Hnedak
Keysville Road, Emmitsburg, Frederick County
The Fourpoints Bridge carries Keysville road over Toms Creek. It is a Pratt Half-Hip through iron truss structure in a single span 103' in length and 15.6' wide. It was built by the Wrought Iron Bridge Company, of Canton, Ohio in the third quarter of the 19th century as indicated by a plaque located on the structure. The bridge sits on two random-coursed stone abutments with adjoining wing walls. Corner blocks imprinted with "Patented November 21, 1876" are located at the top of each diagonal half hip member indicating that this particular style of truss design was patented by the company in 1876 and was installed in this location soon after that date. The Pratt truss was originally patented in 1844 by Thomas Pratt and became the most popular truss design in Frederick County as well as the rest of the country. An unusual feature of the Fourpoints Bridge is its early construction date and ornate name plates, one of which is broken in a corner, which are located on the first cross members on either side of the bridge. Alterations include new planking, a coat of paint and a repaired cross member in the northwest corner of the bridge.
The Fourpoints Bridge is an excellent example of the well-designed bridges constructed by the Wrought Iron Bridge Company of Canton, Ohio, one of the largest manufacturers of iron truss bridges in the 19th century. It is one of two bridges still existing in Frederick County, Maryland known to have been built by the company. The other bridge is a double intersection Pratt truss, the Poffenberger Road Bridge. The Wrought Iron Bridge Company was formed from a foundry originally owned and run by John Laird as early as 1840. It was incorporated as Wrought Iron Bridge Company in 1871 by the patenters of a wrought iron arch bridge. Between 1899 and 1902 the outfit was taken over by the American Bridge Division of the United States Steel Corporation. Since all bridges made by the company were constructed prior to 1899, most examples of bridges made by the Wrought Iron Bridge Company have been replaced over time. The Fourpoints Bridge has survived as a functional part of the Frederick County landscape and deserves continued attention and preservation as a fine example of iron truss bridge construction.