Spanning the Mon
For a towboat pilot pushing coal in the 1940s, bridges were milestones on a river lined with 62 glass factories, 350 coal mines and 35 steel mills, "all blamming away." Today, most of the mills are gone, but the bridges remain as visual reminders of the region's industrial past.
In this interactive, you will discover the history in words and images of every bridge on the Monongahela from Pittsburgh's Point to Elizabeth. Their stories span the river and the centuries since someone first set out to cross the Mon.
Read the Bridges on the Monongahela River story.
Writing: Marylynne Pitz and Kevin Kirkland
Photography: Darrell Sapp
Video: Andrew Rush
By Robert Schmertz, 1947
She was born in an old Monessen alley
and her ma and her pa, they call'd her "Sal"
She grew up to be the Pride of the Valley
a typical Monongahela gal
She wander'd one day by the river,
where she watch'd the "Jason" steamin' by
and her heart gave a leap and a quiver
when she caught the handsome pilot's rovin' eye
His name, so they say, was Mote Stanley
and he wore a fancy sportin' coat
He was tall, dark and handsome and manly
and the best durn pilot ever steer'd a boat.
Roll on, Monongahela
roll on to the Ohio
Roll on past Aliquippi
down to the Mississippi,
clear to the Gulf of Mexico!
Then Mote gave a toot of his whistle
And the "Jason" churn'd the water at her stern,
And Sal, steppin' light as a thistle,
Reach'd up and took Mote Stanley's hand in her'n
It was love, careless love on the river,
It was love careless love by the shore;
But I know that the Lord will forgive her
'Cause she never knew what love was like before
He swore that he always would love her
As they lock'd through the old Emsworth dam
But that night overboard he did shove her
And then Mote Stanley took it on the lam!
Roll on Monongahela
And lap the waters gently at Dra-vo
Where they're back to makin' barges at much more normal charges
Than the LST's they made some years ago.
Now, no one could say that Sal was sickly;
She didn't even take time out to bawl
She just high-tailed right down to Sewickley
Slappin' out a fast Australian crawl
Then Sal hit the grit at Rochester
Where the "Jason" was a-steaming close to shore
From a yard bull who tried to arrest her
She up and swiped a great big .44
She raised up that big shootin' iron
And she banged six shots right into Mote
And when she had fin'lly ceas'd firin'
She'd sure mess'd up that fancy sportin' coat!
Roll on Monongahela
Where the catfish and carp left long ago
You us'd to be pewer, but now you're just a sewer
messin' up the Gulf of Mexico!
Then Sal to the judges said "Good Mornin'!"
And the jury foreman said "Not guilty, gal!"
So let all you pilots take warnin'
Don't mess around Monongahela Sal!