Stroll through history across new bridge in North Charleroi
This new panel on the Tener Bridge over the Monongahela River between Charleroi and Monessen pays tribute to former Pennsylvania Gov. John K. Tener.
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NORTH CHARLEROI – Pedestrians crossing the new Tener Bridge in the Mon Valley will find platforms where they can rest, take in the view and also learn some local history.
The state Department of Transportation, as required by preservation agreements, placed three park benches there last week next to signs on the railing detailing the old Charleroi-Monessen Bridge’s history and that of navigation on the Monongahela River.
“Anything that helps to bring attention to our unique area is a positive,” said PennDOT spokeswoman Valerie Petersen.
The department agreed to purchase the history markers during negotiations with the state Historical and Museum Commission while reaching a consensus on how to commemorate the old bridge, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
That 16-deck truss bridge opened in 1907 to pedestrian, vehicular and trolley traffic at a time when the Mon Valley’s economy was booming as a result of glass, steel, coke and coal production, the signs explain.
The first attempt to build the bridge by a group of McKeesport investors failed, and the project was taken up by the Mercantile Bridge Co., headed by John K. Tener, a Charleroi banker who went on to become governor of Pennsylvania.
The new $26 million span between North Charleroi and Monessen opened June 29 and has been named the John K. Tener Bridge.
One of the history signs honors Tener, explaining he began his professional baseball career as a pitcher in 1885 and went on to play for the Chicago White Stockings. He served as governor from 1911 to 1915 and also was National League president from 1913 to 1918.
Another sign details the history of the nearby Locks and Dam No. 4, opened in 1919 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to replace those dating to 1840.
Charleroi Area Historical Society Chairman Nikki Sheppick said local residents participated in giving PennDOT ideas for the history boards.
“That’s what it was all about, historical discovery and documentation,” she said.