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Carillon Park Bridge

Lower Gratis Road Bridge

Carillon Park Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: May 7, 2006

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Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Carillon Park Walkway Over Shallow Depression
Dayton: Montgomery County, Ohio: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1881 By Builder/Contractor: Columbia Bridge Works of Dayton, Ohio
Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
Not Available
Structure Length
Not Available
Roadway Width
Not Available
1 Main Span(s)
Inventory Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

Visit The Official Carillon Historical Park Website

This bridge was relocated to the Carillon Historical Park in 1984 where it is one of several preserved historic buildings and structures in this outdoor museum. The interpretive sign near the bridge states that the bridge originally carried Lower Gratis Road over Tom's Run, which is located in the southwestern part of Montgomery County. The Historic Bridge Inventory's statement that it came from Twin Creek appears to be incorrect.

Built in 1881, this is an extremely old example of the Columbia Bridge Works. This bridge displays a number of highly unusual and noteworthy design features, and is a highly significant example of a bridge built by an unusual yet noteworthy bridge company.

Although this bridge is a seven panel structure, and would be considered an average length bridge if it had a Pratt configuration, this bridge in fact is a double-intersection Pratt, also known as a Whipple truss. For a Whipple, this is a short bridge. Usually Whipple trusses were used for longer crossings.

The Columbia Bridge Works was known for using rolled i-beams frequently on their bridges, as opposed to the built-up beams that were more common during this period. The company also used bizarre, complex connection and other design details that vastly strayed from the more standard and common design practices of the time. This bridge demonstrates this quite well. The bridge also has an ornate cast iron portal bracing with patterns of circles, topped with the trademark ornate builder plaque that Columbia Bridge Works usually used on their bridges. Attractive spherical finials further complement the aesthetic circle-based design of the portal.

To see one of the most unusual features of this bridge, unusual even among bridges built by Columbia Bridge Works, one must look on the underside, which is easy to do with this bridge since it does not really cross anything. The floor beams on this bridge are lightweight rolled beams with cast iron blocks underneath  that support a rod system, forming an unusual post-tensioned floor beam design.

This bridge is overall a spectacular structure, and well worth visiting. It is historically significant for its old age and unusual construction. The bridge is sitting on stone abutments, which ere either relocated from its original location, or were rebuilt from new stone. Either way, they seem respectful to the original abutments this bridge must have sat on. The only major loss of historic integrity is the lack of original railings. This bridge is located in Carillon Historical Park, and there is a small entry fee for the park which is essentially an outdoor museum. The entry fee seems fair when you consider you are supporting a facility that saw fit to save and restore such a magnificent bridge!

The bridge has a two color paint system, with the darker color denoting compression members in the truss, and the lighter color denoting tension members. Aside from the usefulness that this two color system provides, it also is nice to see a two color paint system on a historic truss bridge for visual reasons. In North America, bridges are rarely painted more than one color, often a dull color. It is a stark contrast to the United Kingdom, where bridges often have two or more colors that may contrast and be quite vibrant in color as well.

Information and Findings From Ohio's Historic Bridge Inventory


The bridge is located in a protected museum/historic site setting in Dayton's Carillon Historical Park. The bridge is open to pedestrians and provides access to a museum building.



Summary of Significance

The 1881 thru truss bridge is a technologically significant example of the double-intersection, pin-connected Pratt thru truss type/design fabricated by an important Ohio bridge builder (Criterion C). It was relocated in 1984 from Lower Gratis Road over Twin Creek to a pedestrian path in Carillon Park in Dayton. The bridge was determined eligible in 1976. There was a finding of no adverse effect when the bridge was relocated.

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.


There are 13 examples of the bridge type important to the development and maturation of the pin-connected thru truss bridge. They date from 1881 and concentrated 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

This bridge is tagged with the following special condition(s): Reused


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Maps and Links: Carillon Park Bridge

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Bridgehunter.com: View listed bridges within 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) of this bridge.

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2021 National Bridge Inventory: View listed bridges within 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) of this bridge.

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