Before Perrysville (now Port Royal) was a village, a fording, located a short distance below the mouth of the Tuscarora Creek, was used by traffic going by way of St. Tammany's Town (now Old Port) westward through the Tuscarora Valley. From the time this county was settled this was a natural crossing place.
The second fording crossed the river, beginning on the east side a short distance below the house (known as the Book Farm), and came into Port Royal on Tuscarora Street. Later an approach was made to Milford Street.
The history of the first two bridges built across the Juniata River is practically lost. The first bridge was built in 1831. In 1839, eight years later, a heavy snow broke it down. The heavy snow crushed down the roof into the middle of the bridge, and then, by its leaning weight, burst out the arches, so that the whole structure fell down upon the ice upside down, so completely wrecking the timbers that scarcely a piece was fit to be used again. A new bridge was built in 1842 and served as a crossing until it was taken by a flood October 9, 1847.
The third bridge was built in 1851 at a cost of about a $4500. It was located north of the present structure and was raised about five feet higher than the previous structure. The two small islands in the river are where the piers stood. This toll bridge was the property of a private company. (The incorporators were Stewart Turbett, John M. Pomeroy, Samuel Okeson, Wilson Laird, John Esh, John Kepner, George I. Cuddy.) Some of the toll collector's names were Strayer, Isenberg, Dennis and the last was the Powell family. This family lived in the toll house at the time of the 1889 flood which destroyed the bridge and the house. The family lost all their property and only escaped with their lives.
The following note appeared in the Aug. 17, 1882 edition of the Port Royal Times: "A large force of workmen are now engaged in thoroughly overhauling the bridge that spans the Juniata at Port Royal, under the superintendent of Mr. Leonard Mauger. Mr. M. never does anything by halves and we feel certain that he will put the bridge in first-class order."
The fourth bridge was built by the county in 1892 at a cost of $16,500.00. The contractor was W. F. Goodman. This was a wooden covered bridge about 700 feet long. The piers were built of native stone with a concrete core, and the superstructure of timbers from the mountain. This bridge served the traveling public for a period of 45 years. On March 18, 1936, at four o'clock in the afternoon the St. Patrick's Day Flood destroyed it. The last person to cross the bridge in a car was Mr. S. G. Bashore, of Port Royal.
The fifth and current steel bridge was constructed in 1937. During the late spring and summer the Highway Department Engineers made three distinct surveys of probable sites for the new bridge; one on Milford, one on Market and one on Tuscarora Street. The highway Department decided to use the old site and immediately appropriated the necessary funds. Then, after further discussion with the Town Council and the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, the Market Street site was selected because it eliminated two very dangerous curves and a very steep approach.
The 8-span, 1087'-long bridge, built in 1937, is composed of four Parker thru truss spans over the river, measuring approximately 222'-long each, a steel thru girder span over the street, and two steel stringer and a reinforced concrete slab approach spans. The deck was replaced in 1975 and the slab span replaced a steel stringer span in 1982. The rivet-connected trusses are composed of standard built-up chords and rolled steel section verticals and diagonals. The bridge is a late and undistinguished example of a truss design developed in the 1870s and used by the state highway department as a standard beginning in the 1920s. It has no noteworthy details. More than 75 examples from the 1920s to 1940s have been identified [though many have since been demolished]. The bridge is not distinguished by its setting, nor is it significant in association with the development of Port Royal. The town grew in association with the railroad as a local commercial and transportation center for the countryside from the late 1840s to about 1910.
(The photos in this file show the fourth and fifth bridges. There are no known pictures of the three earlier bridges.)