Click Here to Return to Index

Fetterman Bridge Named after Nathaniel Fetterman

Coordinator of Historical Research
Valley Tribune 7-5-82
Courtesy of Little Beaver Historical Society

Nathaniel P. Fetterman was born in Pennsylvania Feb 4,1804 Having acquired his elementary education, he entered the law office of his brother, Washington W. Federman, andwas admitted to the Allegheny County Bar Aug. 14,1825 after which he moved to Bedford. While there, he was elected to the state legislature for three successive terms.

He was married Dec. 28, 1828, to Anna M. Dillon of, Bedford by whom he had eight children.

He moved to Beaver in 1830 and was admitted to the Beaver County Bar June 6, 1831 following which he formed a law partnership with Mr. & Meredith and moved to Pittsburgh.

N.P. Fetterman was. an ardert Democra tandbecame a strong supporter of the Union cause in the war of the rebellion, having two sons who were members of the 101st Pennsylvania Volunteers.

The newspaper "The Fallston and Brighton Gazette' was established Aug 6,1835 at Fallston by Dr. EX Chamberlin of New Brighton and Fetterman. It.was a Democratic paper and stopped publication in Decernber 1836.

Fetterman was a contemporary of Daniel Agnew, one of Beaver County's famous legal men. In 1849, Fetterman established a law practice with his nephew GLR Fetterman, becomibg a skillful attorney and a noted legal orator.

In 1879, Beaver Falls Bridge Compar W was organized to erect the bridge, commonly known as the Fetterman Bridge, connecting Beaver Falls and Eastvale, (formerly known as Fetterman). Construction was begun in May 1880 by the Penn Bridge Company. It was a toll bridge most of the years of its existence. This bridge was replaced by the Eastvale Bridge in 1963.

Robert Bonnage of Beaver Falls said there was an island north of the bridge and people used to swim cows out to the island to graze. It was a favorite playground for the children including Bonnage when he was a boy.

The Darlington Cannel Coal Railroad, built in 1852, operated about three years and got into financial difficulties which led to forclosing of the mortgage and a public sale by N.P. Fetterman. The road was bought by the Harmony Society.

Nathaniel Fetterman died In 1877. In his will, dated 1874, after the usual directions for payment of debts and funeral arrangements, he directed that his property be sold and paid to his wife Anna M. Fetterman. He appointed Charles Fetterman, his son, as executor of his estate. The witnesses were S.A. Johnston and George Fetterman. Charles S. Fetterman gained some fame when he served with D.T. Watson as lawyer for the defense in the case of "Christian Swartz et al, vs. John S. Duss et al." The case concerned the claim of the seceders from the, Harmony Society, claiming part of the holdings of the society. It was taken finally to the U.S. Supreme Court and the claim of the society was upheld.

Fetterman Bridge Comes Down
The News-Tribune 4-25-1964

A land mark since 1879 and a relic and eye sore in its later years, the 85-year-old Fetterman bridge is nearly no more.

Demolition workers have been struggling methodically over the structure that spanned the Beaver River between Beaver Falls and Eastvale for so many years, and bit by bit, section by, section, the bridge has disappeared. Replaced earlier this year and finally, by the new Eastvale bridge, only its piers are to remain where it once stood.

The initial cost of the old bridge was $47,500 as compared to the $2,239,418 that the new bridge cost. The Fetterman bridge was originally a toll bridge as were most of the other county bridges. The county purchased the bridge for the Beaver Falls Bridge Co. which had built and operated the bridge in 1903.

The 800 foot long structure served the communities well, but heavier and more vehicular traffic rapidly made it out of date.

For several years prior to construction of the new bridge, school buses were not allowed to
cross it at all due to its poor condition. Motorists who did use it well remember the deep pot holes and general run-down and rickety condition.

One section of Fetterman is down.