This bridge is less than 200 years old, but it isn’t substantially different from bridges built 2,000 years ago. The arch bridge is one of the earliest forms of bridges. I am fascinated by bridges because they often combine both engineering and aesthetics. The simplest type of bridge, of course, is a beam bridge. A straight log placed over a stream is an example of that type. But there’s a problem with beam bridges—they can’t be very long or they will break because all of the weight in the middle is pushing straight down. The arch bridge solves that problem by moving the thrust outward to both sides along the arch and to the supporting piers.

In the modern era, we have seen new forms of bridges as technology and engineering have advanced. Some of the newer bridges can be quite beautiful. A unit studying bridges is an excellent opportunity to combine science, history, and art. Here are five photo galleries from ClipPix ETC of the major types of bridges, however, one should keep in mind that a single bridge can combine features of several types. The sixth item below links to over 140 illustrations of a variety of bridge types at the ClipArt ETC website.

Arch Bridges

Beam Bridges

Movable Bridges

Suspension Bridges

Truss Bridges

Bridge Illustrations

Roy Winkelman is a 40+ year veteran teacher of students from every level kindergarten through graduate school. As the former Director of FCIT, he began the Center's focus on providing students with rich content collections from which to build their understanding. When not glued to his keyboard, Dr. Winkelman can usually be found puttering around his tomato garden in Pittsburgh. Questions about this post or suggestions for a future topic? Email me at To ensure that your email is not blocked, please do not change the subject line. Thank you!

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