Stone Bridge

    Johnstown, Pennslyvania, USA

    Photo Credits: John Brandon Miller

    LED lighting (not water) floods an historic city

    The Stone Bridge in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, USA, was built by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1887. It became famous during the Johnstown Flood of 1889, when the seven arches of the bridge withstood the flood's impact and also blocked tons of debris from being washed downstream. A raging fire broke out in the debris, and the bridge quickly became an international symbol of the disaster. Today, this landmark is an active railroad bridge carrying 50 trains daily alongside Route 56, the most heavily traveled road in the region.

    Over the years, the bridge became unsightly due to age, weather erosion, and construction work and it was in desperate need of restoration. In 2007, a group of local residents formed the Stone Bridge Committee and started a campaign to refurbish the bridge's façade and add an illumination element. The campaign raised $1.2 million for the project, with contributions coming from private and public organizations, corporations and individuals, including an in-kind donation from Norfolk Southern, the owner of the bridge.

    For the illumination of the structure, the committee looked to Shadowstone of Clifton, New Jersey, USA, for their lighting design expertise. Shadowstone suggested energy-efficient LED lighting from Color Kinetics for the project because it can provide beautiful lighting while keeping energy costs down. Because the lights are installed in difficult to reach areas, any type of maintenance would be costly. With their long useful source life, LED luminaires from Color Kinetics require minimal maintenance and can withstand harsh environmental conditions such as wind, extreme cold and heat, and vibration. An LED based solution also offered the option to bring this landmark to life with color-changing light shows and effects that can be easily controlled with the touch of a button.

    Frank Marsico of Shadowstone used ColorBurst Powercore LED spotlights and ColorGraze Powercore linear LED luminaires (now specified with ColorGraze IntelliHue Powercore) to highlight the top of the bridge along its entire length. To showcase the seven arches, Marsico used a combination of ColorGraze Powercore and ColorBlast Powercore LED floodlights. All of the luminaires are controlled by a Color Kinetics Light System Manager controller.

    The Stone Bridge Lighting Project, in memory of Representative John Murtha, was dedicated on September 24, 2011. Every evening for three hours, the people of Johnstown enjoy the color-changing effects of the bridge, starting with a 20-minute light show that then settles into the colors for that night. The colors of the bridge reflect holidays, special events, observances, or the season of the year. Members of the Johnstown Area Heritage Association were trained to operate the system and are responsible for programming the lights.

    "The Stone Bridge is a historically significant site," said Richard Burkert, co-chairman of the Stone Bridge Committee, "but it was also an eyesore. Using cutting-edge LED technology, our team was able to transform it into a constantly changing attraction that delights residents and visitors. The Stone Bridge has greatly enhanced Johnstown's sense of place. Our project shows how programmable LED technology can help to create something unexpected and unique."
    Project credits

    Project Management:

    Johnstown Area Heritage Association


    Pawlowski & Haman Architects, P.C.


    Blalock Electric

    Lighting Design and Installation:

    Shadowstone, Clifton, New Jersey



    H.F. Lenz Co. of Johnstown


    Special thanks to The Stone Bridge Committee who worked in conjunction with all of the above.

    Share this page:

    Want to learn more?

    Browse our growing library of educational materials to keep you informed about critical and often confusing issues related to LED lighting technology.