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CR-253 Bridge

TR-253 Bridge

CR-253 Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber

Bridge Documented: June 24, 2007

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Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
CR-253 Over Outlet Ditch
Rural: Hancock County, Ohio: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
By Builder/Contractor: Smith Bridge Company of Toledo, Ohio
Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
45.0 Feet (13.7 Meters)
Structure Length
49.0 Feet (14.9 Meters)
Roadway Width
15 Feet (4.57 Meters)
1 Main Span(s)
Inventory Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

This bridge no longer exists!

View Archived National Bridge Inventory Report - Has Additional Details and Evaluation

This bridge was demolished and replaced in 2011!

This bridge was undoubtedly built by Smith Bridge Company or the company's later name, the Toledo Bridge Company. This can be inferred from the unusual selection of built-up members, none of which feature v-lacing or lattice and instead use battens. The use of battens on the vertical members particularly makes this bridge stand out. A number of Smith Bridge Company structures remain in Ohio and Pennsylvania that are very similar to this bridge in appearance. This bridge was a good, representative example that was worthy of preservation. Instead, it was reduced to scrap metal and replaced with a slab of concrete.

Information and Findings From Ohio's Historic Bridge Inventory


The bridge carries a 2 lane road over a stream in a rural setting of farms.

Physical Description

The 1 span, 49'-long, pin-connected Pratt pony truss bridge is traditionally composed of built-up compression members and eye bar or rod tension members. The upper chords are toe-out channels with cover plate and battens. The verticals are toe-out channels with battens. The lower-chord eyebars are heavier in the two interior panels. Rolled floorbeams are suspended by U-shaped hangers from the lower chord pins. The floorbeams, stringers, deck, and railings are modern (ca. 1980). The stone abutments have concrete seats.


Replaced flooring system and railings (ca. 1980). Ball finials in ca. 1980 photos are now gone. Cover plate at end post-upper chord connection has been welded.

Summary of Significance

The ca. 1890 pin-connected Pratt pony truss bridge is attributed to the Smith Bridge Company of Toledo by prior ODOT survey forms, but plaques and finials are now gone. The bridge is similar to three other documented examples in other counties dating from ca. 1885 (55XXXX2, 55XXXX6, 82XXXX5), but it does not have the architectural ornament, tapered verticals, or original fishbelly floorbeams that characterizes those earlier designs. The other surviving examples better represent the significance of the company's work.

The Smith Bridge Company was established in 1870 by Robert W. Smith. Smith had begun building his patented wood-truss bridges in Tipp City in the late 1860s. He relocated to Toledo in 1870, establishing a bridge works, that continued to fabricate the wood trusses, but eventually transitioned into metal-truss fabrication. The company sold bridges throughout the Midwest and was very prolific, sometimes licensing its patented design to other builders. In 1890 Smith sold to new owners who changed the name to the Toledo Bridge Company. Toledo Bridge Company was merged into the American Bridge Company monopoly in 1901. The inventory includes at least 14 bridges built by the Smith Bridge Company (11 covered bridges; 3 pinned Pratt truss) (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.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: No


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