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Abstract

The Guernsey or "Humpback" Bridge (see figure 2) is dying from neglect. Small saplings and briar bushes now cuddle its abutments that Mother Nature has bombarded with many wind and rain showers and baked with her sweltering summer suns. Several timbers are tattooed, seared by countless embers from wood- and coal-fired locomotives that have traveled underneath it along the Gettysburg Railroad line. Sections of several other timbers have rotted. Indeed, this little, single-lane span cannot withstand the weight of motor vehicles much longer. For this reason, in 1999 the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission ruled that the forlorn bridge was a safety hazard, closing it to the public and earmarking it for demolition.

The Guernsey bridge's future looked bleak. No government, business entity, or private citizen wanted to claim the bridge. Located next to the intersection of West Guernsey and Guernsey Roads, situated some two miles northeast of Biglerville, in Butler township, Adams county, the "Humpback Bridge" was neither maintained by the Adams county commissioners nor the Butler township supervisors. The Gettysburg Railroad, which had been sold several times over the past several decades, had no record of it. Thus the PUC had intervened.

The Guernsey bridge, however, had not been completely forgotten. A grass-roots group, Friends of the Guernsey Bridge, was organized to prevent the bridge's destruction. But when the group sought to acquire it in order to preserve it, it encountered a stumbling block: the identity of the bridge's owner. "Who is the present owner of the Humpback Bridge?" [excerpt]

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