Shiffler Bridge Company

Biography of The Shiffler Bridge Company (ca. 1870-1900)

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Name Shiffler Bridge Company
Formed 1870s; Reorganized 1890
Defunct 1900
Succeeded by American Bridge Company
Headquarters Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Key People Aaron G. Shiffler (Founder)
J.W. Walker (Proprietor, 1888-1890)
Howard H. McClintic (Owner, 1890-1900)
Charles D. Marshall (Owner, 1890-1900)
Railroads Served Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad
Possibly others
Shop Location 48th Street; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Shiffler Bridge Company traces roots back to Aaron Gilbert Shiffler, who was born of a respected family in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in 1822.
Upon reaching working age, Mr. Shiffler went to Mansfield, Ohio where he worked as a carpenter and builder for one year. After this, he moved to Milwaukee for another year. Upon leaving Milwaukee, he attempted to continue moving west, before stopping to help build a building. Reportedly, he then returned to Harrisburg and continued his trade.
By 1854, he constructed a wooden bridge at Williamsport, Pennsylvania; and had continued to work as a bridge builder for the Pennsylvania Railroad. In 1855, he joined J.L. Piper in bridge building, but did not formally go into business together until 1862. These two also worked with J.H. Linville in building iron railroad bridges.
The two were key in forming the Keystone Bridge Company in 1865. Located in Pittsburgh, this iron works was also where industrialist Andrew Carnegie got his start. Shiffler served as superintendent for this company.

Shiffler Advertisement
Advertisement for Shiffler Bridge Works, between 1888 and 1890

After several years, Shiffler left Keystone Bridge Company to make his own firm, the Shiffler Bridge Works. While the exact date is unknown, it is believed that he left sometime in the early 1870s. His shops were located at 48th Street and the Allegheny Valley Railroad in Pittsburgh.
In 1888, J.W. Walker became involved with the company as a proprietor. After Shiffler retired in 1890, J.W. Walker decided to sell the company.
Lehigh University Civil Engineering graduates Howard Hale McClintic and Charles Donnell Marshall purchased the company and renamed it the Shiffler Bridge Company. Along with three other individuals, these 22 year olds continued building bridges at 48th Street.
A second plant, known as the Walker Works, was started in 1898-1899, before the company was merged into American Bridge Company in 1900.
Later in 1900, McClintic and Marshall left to form their own business, McClintic-Marshall Construction Company.
After American Bridge took over, it closed the Walker Works in 1904, and closed the 48th Street plant in 1921. It appears the original buildings of the 48th Street plant still exist.
Mr. Shiffler died at his home in Pennsylvania in 1905, remembered as an early innovator of railroad bridges.
It is not entirely known how many railroad bridges Shiffler built after leaving Keystone. On this site, only two are known to exist, both having been built for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy in the mid-1890s. It is very likely both spans were moved to the current locations later.
It also seems likely that the Pennsylvania Railroad had at least some contract with Shiffler, due to the nature of their business previously, as well as the location of his plant on a Pennsylvania Railroad mainline.
However, it seems highly likely that there are more out there, waiting to be discovered.

A sample of plaques and projects completed by Shiffler Bridge Company can be seen below. No plaques have been found for dates prior to 1895, and no confirmed bridges have been found outside of East Central Nebraska.

Shiffler Bridge Company plaque

Plaque on a relocated CB&Q deck plate girder span at Ralston, Nebraska

Shiffler Bridge Company plaque

1895 plaque on a CB&Q through truss bridge at DeWitt, Nebraska.

Selected Works
BNSF Big Papillion Creek Bridge (Center Span Only)
BNSF Turkey Creek Bridge (DeWitt, Nebraska)


Source Type


Company History American Bridge Building Companies 1840-1900 by Victor C. Darnell
Aaron G. Shiffler Biography History of Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, 1887
Merger Information Tennessee DOT document on bridge companies

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