RAILFAN GUIDES of the U.S.
Todd's Railfan Guide to
the ROCKVILLE BRIDGE
Part of the ex-Pennsy mainline between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh
RAILFAN GUIDES HOME
RAILROAD SIGNALS HOME
In March of 2002, the Rockville Bridge celebrated its 100th birthday!
It is the longest stone arch bridge of it's type in the world at 3820 feet, and 48 arches. Each arch is 70 feet. The bridge is 52 feet wide, wide enough for 4 tracks, but currently only has 2 tracks on it, except at the very east end.
The current bridge is the third bridge that has spanned the Susquehanna. The first bridge, which was completed in 1849, was a wooden structure and carried one track. The second bridge, completed in 1877, was an iron truss type, and carried two tracks.
There are three sets of signals on the Bridge. Two of them are on the east end of the bridge for "EB" traffic, for a crossover, and then going into three tracks. On the west end of the bridge, there is a signal for the south track, because it can go either north or south. The north track on the bridge can only go north off the end of the bridge. The two sets on the east end replaced a cantilever bridge maybe 3 or 4 years ago.
As far as shooting the Bridge is concerned, you can good shots from either end, but it's a little easier from the east side only because it's easier to park. There is also a bed and breakfast on the western shore just south of the bridge, where you can get some pretty nice shots, especially in the fall when the colors are bright.
For railfanning in the immediate area, US15 follows the R-O-W up the west side for quite some distance (up to Duncannon), and there are many opportunities for action along the way.
US22 on the other side of the river also follows the tracks well up to Duncannon, but it is a high speed highway, with few places to pull over and shoot. It's the Buffalo line, and trains run less frequently than the main line on the other side of the river.
Pittsburgh - the Pennsy Main Line:
I'm working on a set of maps to cover the entire line from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh....
the Rockville Bridge - your on this page now!
Harrisburg West - to Macedonia
Mt Union East - to Macedonia
the East Broad Top RR
Altoona East - to Mt Union
Altoona West - to South Fork
All of the above maps are in one PDF file here.
Access to the Rockville Bridge is convenient off I81, on the north side of Harrisburg. Use exit 65 for the west coast of the Susquehanna and Marysville, and exit 66 for the east coast of the river.
From the Southwest, ie, Tennessee, Virginia, Roanoke, Hagerstown, etc, just come up I81, and get off at the above exits.... it's that easy.
From the east, like New York City, Allentown, upper NJ, come in on I78, and when you run into I81, continue west on it and look for that exit 65.
From the north in New York or northern PA, come down I81 from places like Scranton, Wilkes Barre, Binghamton and Syracuse, and again, look for exit 65.
From Rochester head south on I390. When you hit the Southern Tier Expressway, I86, take it towards Painted Post, where you'll want to get off and head south on US15. US15 brings you right to the Bridge.
If you're coming from Buffalo way, you have to do a cross country trek via the back roads thru Batavia on 63 till it joins up with 390 in Geneseo.
From the west, like Pittsburgh or anything west of there, take the Pennsy Turnpike east, and as you hit I81 just outside of Harrisburg, take it north to exit 65.
The aerial shots come from www.maps.live.com (now www.bing.com/maps ), in their "birds eye" view.... great resource!!!
If you have any additional info you would like to share with the rest of us, it would be greatly appreciated.... please email me
Some resources I've come across for
In these post 911 days, the railroads are always watching out for terrorists. We, unfortunately, fall into the suspect category and are always being plagued and harassed by the railroad police unnecessarily. Stay on public property, I can't emphasize this enough, and try to be civil to the railroad cops if they do come around. BUT, and here's the big one, NS cops in Harrisburg just tried to tell a friend of mine back in February (2010), that he couldn't take pictures of Enola from the US15 "overlook". If it wasn't for the fact that my buddy personally knows the chief of police, and he came onsite to help my buddy chase off the NS cops, they would probably still be there arguing.
The above map is available here as a PDF.
The above map is available here as a PDF.
A portion of the Conrail map for Harrisburg
Satellite photo of basically the same area as my map.
Below are two snippets from a 1890 USGS Harrisburg Quadrangle map, showing the Marysville/Rockville Bridge area and a little north.
1 The Rockville Bridge
At the eastern end of the bridge.
The eastern approaches to the Bridge.
The two ends of the bridge.
West end of the bridge, showing the abandoned tunnels, picture below is a continuation of this picture to the south.
West end of the bridge with SB freight headed into Enola.
Going a little further south yet on the west shore, at the bend in the river is another short tunnel.
2 The Marysville Depot
3 The Tunnels
South tunnel, southern end.
North tunnel, northern portal.
Milepost adjacent to the southern tunnel, that's the backside of the old cast milepost facing us.
4 The River Road Overpass
Just off the exit from WB I81, but you can't get to the River Rd overpass from here, you have to go south on US15 instead of north.
Looking north from the overpass.
Looking south from the overpass.
The overpass, commemorative plaque, and parking area.
5 The Bridgeview B&B
This used to be a cool place to rent a boat to go out into the Susquehanna and catch pictures of trains on the bridge. Converted into bed and breakfast a few years ago, it offers the railfan a unique opportunity to camp out right next to the bridge.
The B&B provides the railfan with a most excellent view of the Rockville Bridge due to its location. They have also done a great job with the decking and wheelchair accessible ramps from the parking lot.... Nice Going!
Their phone number is 717-957-2438, and their website is at: http://www.bridgeviewbnb.com/rates.html
Western Shore, South of CP HIP.
Old signals on a new cantilever structure. Taken from River Rd by the Bed and Breakfast.
Western Shore, CP HIP.
Three former signal locations, as seen from US15.
Western Shore, CP HIP.
A lone PL signal for SB traffic on the Pittsburgh line, headed into Enola.
The upper head is a newer replacement made by Safetran, you don't see them too often (details in the 2nd row of pictures).
That explains all of the screws holding the background on, compared to the lower head.
The two pictures on the left of the second line are an original US&S lamp, the two on the right are of a Safetran unit, they also use a completely different mounting system and hub.
< Scans of pictures from 5 years ago or so.
Western side of The Bridge.
A newer colorlight installation for trains coming out of Enola and heading across the Bridge.
On the Bridge, Single Signal WB
Left picture from the western shore, right picture taken from the eastern shore on the north side of the bridge.
6 On the Bridge, Two Signals EB
Back to back sets of color light signals, for both NB and SB traffic. Good spot for NB pix.
SB Signal Bridge north of the US322 overpass.
Didn't manage to get any pictures of this set of signals. Has anyone else?
9 Pictures at the Rockville Wye, on the east side of the Bridge.
North of Harrisburg Yard and Linglestown
This Signal Bridge is difficult to access for good pictures, this is taken from along US322.
North Side of Harrisburg Yard
This set doesn't show up on my map, yet.....
First Signals North of Marysville
Signal Bridge with Pennsy PL Signals, for SB traffic heading to Harrisburg, the right signal has a full lower background - not very common.
I mis-labeled this set #10 on the upper left hand corner :-(
Second Signal Set North of Marysville
"New" signal bridge with color light signals. 6 sets of signals, with a set of three for both NB and SB traffic.
Pictures from my 2008 venture to Northumberland.
Pittsburgh Line, further up.
North off the map on the west side of the river, the Pittsburgh line goes from 4 tracks to 3, with a couple of nice signal bridges.
13 Buffalo Line, further up.
North off the map on the east side, is where the Buffalo Line narrows from two tracks to one, with signals.
All of these were found on Ebay..... Some are more generous with their scans than others :-)
Last Modified 19-Sep-2013