The Arnoldtown section of Curwensville Borough is located on the eastern side of town along state Route 879. Some of the homes were built to house railroad company employees.
Curwensville was traditionally a town that prospered first from lumbering and then from brickyards, railroads, tanneries and manufacturing facilities.
Railways made their way through the lower lying areas of Anderson Creek and the West Branch of the Susquehanna River.
A century ago, the Pennsylvania, New York Central and the long defunct Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh lines all ran through Curwensville.
This made the borough a major commercial and transportation hub of Clearfield County. Moving freight to market was as vital to markets as it is now.
The 1917 photo shows construction of the Pennsylvania Railroad bridge and trestle that was built to cross over top of Route 879 and the West Branch. It can still be seen today with the stone piers and steel struts still standing firm.
The laboring men were taking a break, perhaps for lunch or at least long enough to have their photo taken. One man, in the back row, is wearing a jacket vest and tie. Perhaps he was an engineer or a foreman.
The men all look like younger adults, or not much older than 40 years of age. Heavy construction, then, involved skilled but hard manual labor and was risky. It was no place for young boys who were so often terribly overworked in the coal mines.
The heavy timber scaffolding was used to slowly, but accurately, put the steel bridge girders into place on the abutments and piers. Cranes and heavy equipment, as we know them today, weren’t yet available for use.