This long-abandoned bridge is absolutely buried and overgrown by an extensive array of plant life that includes but is not limited to poison ivy. However, the bridge is not only a rare example of a Whipple truss, it is also a rare surviving product of the Lomas Forge and Bridge Works which later became known as the Brackett Bridge Company. Aside from some welded alterations and cable additions, this bridge retains good historic integrity. It needs to be restored, either here, or relocated and reused perhaps in a park or on a trail system.
Information and Findings From Ohio's Historic Bridge Inventory
The bridge is bypassed and closed to traffic. It is located in the village of New Hope. There is a mix of late-19th to late-20th-century residences, but none are immediately adjacent to the bridge. The village center is located to the south.
The 1-span, 160'-long double-intersection Pratt (Whipple) truss is supported on gunite-coated stone abutments. The upper chords are toe-out channels with cover plate and battens. The verticals are toe-out channels with lacing. The diagonals and lower chords are eyebars. The upper lateral bracing are I-beams. The upper and lower lateral crossbracing are eyebars with turnbuckles. Rolled floorbeams are suspended from the lower panel points by U-shaped hangers. The floorbeams carry steel stringers and a wood deck. The floorbeam hangers in the end panels are eyebars that have the unusual feature of being forged with eyelets to hold the pipe railings (which are missing). The verticals have similar circular cutouts to pass through pipe railings. The lattice portals are finished with decorative metal cutouts (circles and quatrefoils) and builder's plaques, sections of which are missing. The remnant of the southern plaque reads, "Auditor W. J. Jacobs, Engineer J. R. Wright, Commissioners Ross Wise, S. W. Pickerill, J.A. Jennings." ODOT's early 1980s metal-truss inventory identified the builder as the Lomas Forge & Bridge works of Cincinnati, but that section of the plaque has since been lost.
Railings missing. Deck is deteriorated and holed through in places. Abutment coated in gunite. Abutment is cracked and shifted at south end. Floorbeam hangers in end panels have been strengthened with cable. Truss lines maintain integrity of design and materials with some loss of fabric (railings).
Summary of Significance
The 1884 double-intersection Pratt (Whipple) thru truss bridge is a technologically significant example of its type/design based on its date of construction and attribution to a local builder (Criterion C). It is the only identified truss bridge in the inventory fabricated by the Lomas Forge & Bridge Works of Cincinnati. Double-intersection Pratt trusses, also known as Whipple or Murphy-Whipple trusses, were among the most successful of long-span thru truss designs (up to 300' long) of the 1860s to 1890s for both railroad and vehicular crossings. Surviving examples are uncommon nationally and considered technologically significant; Ohio with at least 14 identified examples dating from 1881 to 1898 (Phase 1A survey, 2008) has a very high number in comparison to most other states. The truss design is characterized by diagonals that extend over two panels. In 1847, Squire Whipple, one of America's foremost bridge engineers, developed the design figuring that the double-intersection configuration increased the depth of panel without altering the optimal angle of the diagonals, thus allowing for increased span length. His design was further refined in 1859 by John W. Murphy, the talented chief engineer of Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley RR, who substituted wrought-iron pins for cast-iron connecting pieces, thus developing the connection detail that would prove to be advanced construction practice for this and other truss designs for the next several decades. Ohio's surviving examples, which mostly date to the 1880s, were not cutting edge for their time, but they show how the form had evolved into the preferred long-span thru truss design of the period. Most have documented associations with prominent Ohio-based fabricators. The Lomas Forge & Bridge Works was established in the 1870s by William Lomas at 211 West 2nd Street in Cincinnati. F. J. P. Brackett was the superintendent of the Lomas bridge shops. According to one account, Brackett purchased a controlling interest in 1898 and renamed the Lomas works the Brackett Bridge Company. Another account has Brackett leaving Lomas in 1886 and forming his own company. The Brackett Bridge Company remained in operation until the mid-1920s.
There are at least 14 examples of the bridge type important to the development and maturation of the pin-connected thru truss bridge. They date from 1881 and concentrate in the 1880s. Even though there are more than 12 extant examples in Ohio, each built in the 1880s has high significance based on overall scarcity (everywhere but in Ohio) of the design. This is a major and technologically significant bridge type. The bridge has high significance.
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes
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