This bridge was built by the Columbia Bridge Works, a company known for its unusual design details in its trusses including extensive use of rolled beams instead of built-up beams. Among surviving trusses by this company, this bridge displays a greater use of cast iron in the portals and connection points than most other bridges. Rather its details are similar to the Broyles Road Bridge in Indiana which was dated to 1875. This bridge appears to date to this period as well. A ca. 1875-1880 construction date seems appropriate. It is thus among the earliest surviving truss bridges by the Columbia Bridge Works.
This bridge and the road it carries was abandoned by its former government owner and has been apparently turned over to private ownership. It is hoped that this bridge's owner realizes what a treasure this bridge is, and is ready to assume the responsibility of maintaining the bridge. It is in need of restoration, particularly the cast iron portal elements which are cracked, broken, and/or missing.
Information and Findings From Ohio's Historic Bridge Inventory
The bridge carries a farm lane over Lost Creek in a rural setting of active agriculture. This is the former Elbert Road, which has been vacated and is now on private property.
The 1 span, 84'-long and 16'-wide, pin-connected Pratt thru truss bridge is supported on ashlar abutments. The upper chords are I-sections. The end posts are built-up of toe-out channels riveted to the flanges of an I-beam. At the end post-upper chord connection are cast-iron connecting pieces with a decorative hipped cap. The verticals are toe-out channels with cast-iron spacers between the channels. The diagonals are upset eyebars. The lower chords are a pair of wrought-iron bars with bolted splices. The portal bracing is an I-section with circular cutouts in the web. The portal bracing is supported by curved brackets with wrought-iron decorative rings. One of the portals has the remnants of a builders plaque but the letters have been lost. The end-panel floorbeam hangers are loop-welded eyebars with a pin-and-hanger (double-pin) arrangement. The built-up fishbelly floorbeams are supported from the lower-chord pins by U-shaped hangers. There are metal stringers and a wood plank deck. The bridge retains original metal lattice railings.
The bridge has lost its builders plaques and finials but is otherwise complete. Some loss of original fabric to corrosion.
Summary of Significance
The truss bridge dates by style/history to ca. 1880 and is the work of the Columbia Bridge Works of Dayton, Ohio. It is technologically significant example of the pin-connected Pratt thru truss type/design exhibiting proprietary details that document the transition from the cast- and wrought-iron trusses of the mid-19th-century to the standard pin-connected steel trusses of the late 19th century and early 20th century (Criterion C). David H. Morrison, founder of the Columbia Bridge Works, was among the earliest and most influential truss bridge builders in Ohio. Morrison began building wood bridges in 1848 and received a patent for an iron bowstring design in 1867. The Morrison bowstring made use of I-beams laid on their sides to form the arch. This detail was carried through to later truss designs, like the Whipple and the Pratt, where Morrison used I-beams to form compression members for the upper chords and verticals. These bridges anticipated the simple pin-connected designs of the 1890s but still retained many transitional details such as cast-iron connecting pieces and spacers. About 1867 Morrison formally established the Columbia Bridge Works in Dayton. His son, Charles C. Morrison, joined the company a few years later. The Columbia Bridge Works went out of business about 1890. The ODOT inventory has identified at least six metal-truss bridges dating from ca. 1880 to 1887 attributed to the Columbia Bridge Works (May 2009).Pratt trusses were undoubtedly the most popular truss design of the last quarter of the 19th century and continued to be built into the 20th century, although eventually superseded in popularity by Warren trusses. The design, which initially was a combination of wood compression and iron tension members, was patented in 1844 by Thomas & Caleb Pratt. Ohio has three covered bridges that use this combination configuration, but they are all modern reconstructions based on the Pratt patent. The great advantage of the Pratt over other designs was the relative ease of calculating the distribution of stresses. More significantly, it translated well into an all-metal design in lengths of less than 200'. Significant surviving examples of all-metal Pratt trusses mostly date to the last quarter of the 19th century, and they are found with thru, pony, and the less common bedstead configuration. Prior to about 1890, a variety of panel point connections were in widespread use (including bolts, cast-iron pieces, and pins), but engineering opinion was coalescing around pins as the most efficient and constructible. Many of the connection details were proprietary and associated with individual builders or companies, and thus earlier examples are generally taken to be technologically significant in showing the evolution of the design. Later post-1890 Pratt trusses show a progression toward less variation in their details such that by 1900 the design was quite formulaic with few significant differences between the designs of various builders. This marked the end of the pin-connected Pratt's technological evolution and, in fact, it was soon waning and eclipsed in the highway bridge market by more rigid, rivet-connected truss designs, particularly the Warren but also riveted Pratts. The transition to riveted connections, which happened even earlier with railroads than highways, was in no small part due to concerns about stress reversals at the pins under heavier loads and improvements in pneumatic field riveting equipment in the early 1900s. In Ohio, Pratt truss highway bridges, whether pinned or riveted, were almost always built under the auspices of counties and local units of government; the Pratt was not a standard design of the state highway department. In Ohio, there are 185 Pratt trusses dating from ca. 1874 to 1945 with at least 60 dating prior to 1900 (Phase 1A, 2008). The technologically significant unaltered examples of pin-connected Pratt trusses for the most part date prior to 1900 and have documented or attributed builders and dates of construction and/or significant connection or member details. Later post-1900 examples are less technologically significant.
The bridge is one of over 150 extant pin-connected truss bridges dating from 1874 for pony trusses and 1876 for thru trusses. Twenty six predate 1888 and represent the era of experimentation that evolved into standardized designs by about 1888. This example has moderate significance because the genre, which is particularly rich, and the fabricator are well represented in Ohio. This is a very high moderate.
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes
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