The first mention of the S & L token was in the "Check List of U. S. Transportation Tokens" by Bernard Morgenthau in 1944. The listing was as follows:

SUNBURY, PA. S & L Bridge 2 / Blank

[later it was listed as 23 mm Brass]

My first introduction to this token was on July 27, 1979 when Ray Byrne paid $265.00 for an example that was donated to the club auction by a dealer-member who acquired it at his local coin shop. Ray told me personally that the reason he was so keen to get this token was because he was sure it was really a Pittsburgh token; and he thought he could prove it was from the Sharpsburg bridge, which was just a couple of miles from where he lived. Ray’s health deteriorated and he never was able to prove his theory before he passed away.

Several years later I attempted to report this to the A. V. A, and merely caused the listing of another variety. 'This was based on the report that my piece was 26 mm and had the name of the maker struck on the reverse. The maker was JAMES BOWN & SON / PITTSBURGH, PA. Mr. Bown was a gunsmith in Pittsburgh from 1848 where he and 25 employees made 4,000 rifles per year at the Enterprise Gun Works. From 1875 to 1890 he operated as James Bown & Son where they also made tokens, watch checks. and tool checks as an aside to guns, and continued until about 1885.

Act 27 of the 1837-38 PA Legislature granted Incorporation papers to the SHARPSBURG & LAWRENCEVILLE BRIDGE CO. and on March 13. 1838 the papers were signed. 1200 shares of stock at $50.00 per share were to be sold and the bridge was to be opened within five years. In the documents the foot passenger fee was to be 2 cents; a wagon with two horses was 15 cents; plus funerals, military, school children, and churchgoers would pass free. The north end of said bridge shall connect to the Pittsburgh & Butler Turnpike Road.

First Bridge (1856-1864)

In the Standard History of Pittsburgh, (1898) Erasmus Wilson wrote: " The Sharpsburg Bridge project, which had languished so long , was put in operation in 1855, and on 9-27-1856 , the bridge was thrown open to the public. Its construction at this time was due to the Lawrenceville and Sharpsburg Plank Road Co.". This Road Company was incorporated on April 11, 1851. 0ne would travel .5.4 miles from the point through Lawrenceville, to arrive at the bridge and turn North across the Allegheny and on toward Butler. This bridge was destroyed in 1861 by a huge fire, but was rebuilt the following year.

Second Bridge (1865-1870)

The second Sharpsburg Bridge lasted for five years. On 6-28-1870 lightening struck the Eclipse Oil Works which was located on the north end of the structure. 23,000 barrels of oil and 50 tons of paraffin wax were ignited and this resulted in much area damage, a few deaths, and the destruction of the bridge. There was over a $50,000 loss, but the bridge was insured and was rebuilt in 1871.

Third Bridge (1871-1911)

It is not known how this bridge met its demise, but it was replaced by a new structure in 1911.

Fourth Bridge (1911-1962)

A new bridge of steel through the deck trusses opened to traffic in 1911. The flooring was of wooden ties laid on steel stringers. There was a 21 foot wide roadway, and two 7 foot wide sidewalks, standing over three piers. This bridge carried trolleys and streetcars, and in later years many trucks. This toll bridge was purchased by Allegheny County for $324,923.80 and made free to the public an June 12. 1912. Nearly all bridges in the county were free by this time.

Fifth Bridge (built 1961)

The new steel and concrete bridge was opened on November 26, 1961 and was named for Robert Fleming who served this area as an elected state official for many years. The old structure was razed in 1962


Tokens and Other Items

A rubbing of a 15 cent token from the S & L Bridge is shown at the end of this article. This perhaps unique token was located a block from the Allegheny City, PA. Market House where it was probably lost by a farmer who brought a wagon load of produce to the market. The letter punches are exactly the same as those on the 2 cent token, but no maker name is on the reverse. The brass piece is 30 X 24 mm in size and holed for hanging or stringing.


While looking for evidence in state documents, I discovered two tax laws that shed light on the existence of many transportation token issuing corporations. The first of these was a tax on Capital Stock. Beginning on June 11, 1840 all corporations must pay 1/2 mill on every dollar of dividends paid out to stockholders. In 1844 it was changed to 3 mills on the value of outstanding stock.

'The second tax was one of 8 mills on the gross receipts of transportation companies payable to the Auditor General since 1866. Bridges, ferries, turnpikes, and street railways all paid these taxes to the state and records were published in the Annual Reports of the Sect. of Internal Affairs and/or the Auditor General. For example the following taxes were paid to the State by the Sharpsburg & Lawrenceville Bridge Co. which shows continual operation.