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Big Run Road Bridge

Big Run Road Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: September 11, 2015

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Big Run Road (Old Alignment) Over Kokosing River
Location
Rural: Knox County, Ohio: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1915 By Builder/Contractor: Unknown

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
2010
Main Span Length
190 Feet (57.91 Meters)
Structure Length
194 Feet (59.13 Meters)
Roadway Width
15.7 Feet (4.79 Meters)
Spans
1 Main Span(s)
NBI Number
4232828

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Bridge Documentation

About This Bridge

This is an early example of a polygonal Warren truss bridge. Nearly all polygonal Warren truss bridges date to after 1920. This bridge is significant as a result.

The shape of the "polygon" on this truss is such that there is a long section of horizontal top chord. This makes the bridge resemble a Camelback truss (although it has more than five slopes).

This bridge was bypassed and abandoned in 1994. It sat abandoned until 2010 when it was rehabilitated for pedestrian use. As such its not only an excellent preservation outcome, it also demonstrates the value of leaving a historic bridge standing next to its replacement, even if funds at the time the bridge is bypassed do not exist to rehabilitate the bridge for pedestrian use.

During rehabilitation, this bridge was hot dip galvanized.

A parking area was also installed near the bridge and a picnic table is on the bridge.

A Note About Rivets

HistoricBridges.org strongly feel that when rehabilitated, rivets that are replaced on a metal truss bridge should be replaced with rivets. No longer used on modern bridges, rivets are a critical detail that sets old truss bridges apart from all modern bridges. Many DOTs claim that rivets are not noteworthy and replacing them with bolts is not consequential. Perhaps this is true is a small handful representing a minority of rivets on the bridge are replaced. But what is every single field-driven connection rivet on a truss bridge was replaced with bolts? This is exactly what happened with the Big Run Road Bridge. To disassemble it, the contractor had no choice but to remove the rivets at the connection points. This is to be expected. Note that these would have been the same rivets that the original builder of the bridge drove when the truss was assembled on site in 1915. A few rivets around the connections were not removed by the contractor; these would have been shop rivets and not part of the field-assembled connection. When the contractor reinstalled the truss they used bolts to reassemble the bridge. Was this consequential? Absolutely! One of the tennants of preservation is that a false sense of history should not be created. Because not just a few, but ALL field-driven connection rivets were replaced with bolts, it is absolutely impossible to tell whether this bridge was originally assembled using rivets or bolts. This is critical to know, because there are a tiny number of bridges from the ca. 1915 period that had field connections which were bolted. Someone visiting this bridge might make the mistake of assuming that this is one of that tiny number of field-bolted truss bridges from the early 20th Century. This is a false sense of history.

Rivets are safe for use (when driven by an experienced company) both in heavy highway use as well as pedestrian use. Rivets certainly could have been used to reassemble this bridge.

Information and Findings From Ohio's Historic Bridge Inventory

Setting/Context

The bridge carries a pedestrian walkway over a stream in a rural setting. It was bypassed in 1994.

Physical Description

The 1 span, 190'-long, rivet-connected Warren thru truss bridge has a polygonal top chord and verticals. It is composed of built-up members. It has lattice railings.

Integrity

The bridge has some loss of original fabric from deterioration.

Summary of Significance

"The bridge has been bypassed and has some deterioration, but otherwise there have been no significant changes to the bridge's status since the prior inventory. The eligible recommendation remains appropriate. Warren trusses are the most common design found in Ohio and the nation. The Ohio Phase 1A survey (2008) has identified more than 500 examples dating from 1897 to 1961, accounting for well over half of the approximately 800 pre-1961 metal trusses. The Warren design was particularly well suited to rigid (riveted, and later welded connections), but not as well suited to pin connections; this helps to explain its popularity in the 20th century rather than the 19th century, although it is based on a British patent issued to engineers James Warren and Willoughby Monzani in 1848. In the U.S., the popularity of the Warren truss coincided with improvements in pneumatic field riveting equipment starting about 1900. The Warren, which is based on a series of equilateral triangles, is identified by its simplicity of design, ease of construction with equal-sized members, and ability of some diagonals to act in both tensions and compression. Warren trusses are often stiffened by the addition of verticals; they can also have polygonal (sloped) upper chords to achieve greatest depth at midspan. Warren trusses were a standard design of the Ohio State Highway Department in the 1910s and 1920s, but they achieved their greatest popularity with county engineers, who purchased the bridges from Ohio fabricators such as the Champion Bridge Co. and the Mt. Vernon Bridge Co. Fewer than 12 surviving rivet-connected Warren trusses date prior to 1910, and they represent the period when the rivet-connected design solidified its position as the most popular prefabricated county truss design. A noteworthy change in the technological development of Warren trusses was the transition from riveted to welded connections that began in the mid to late 1930s. The development was based on improvements in arc-welding equipment and the propagation of welding techniques as a substitute for riveting in many fields of construction, such as steel-hull ships and steel-frame buildings. While most of Ohio's remaining truss fabricators went out of business in the depression of the 1930s, Ohio Bridge Corporation (OBC) of Cambridge grew its business on the development of a standard weld-connected Warren pony truss with polygonal upper chords in the years immediately following WWII. OBC remains in operation and many Ohio counties continue to find the weld-connected Warren trusses to be a desirable economical alternative to other bridge types. More than 360 of the 500 Warren trusses in the study are weld-connected and most are attributable to OBC from the late 1940s to 1960. It is the early examples of weld-connected Warren trusses dating from the mid 1930s to mid 1940s that are the technologically significant examples."

Justification

The bridge is one of over 40 extant riveted thru truss bridges of all designs built between 1904 and 1959. This example is representative of the population and has moderate significance. There are also many riveted thru truss bridges servicing the many rail lines in the state.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes

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