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Dean Road Bridge

Dean Road Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber

Bridge Documented: June 24, 2007

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Dean Road Over Vermilion River
Location
Rural: Erie County, Ohio and Lorain County, Ohio: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1898 By Builder/Contractor: Massillon Bridge Company of Massillon, Ohio

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
1992
Main Span Length
171 Feet (52 Meters)
Structure Length
176 Feet (54 Meters)
Roadway Width
15.4 Feet (4.69 Meters)
Spans
1 Main Span(s)
NBI Number
4734734

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Bridge Documentation

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

This bridge was apparently closed for some time, had minor repairs made, and was reopened to traffic. However, closure or demolition continues to a major concern for this extremely beautiful and significant historic bridge. Located on a non-essential road with a steep grade that keeps trucks off of it, restoration of this bridge for light vehicular traffic makes sense. A restored Dean Road Bridge could continue to carry the light residential traffic that uses this road.

The Dean Road Bridge is significant as an impressive example of an uncommon truss design, the Whipple. The bridge also features unusual portal knee bracing that makes the bridge both unique and beautiful. Perhaps the most unusual feature of the bridge is the fact that while the truss bridge is not inclined, the deck is. Thus, there is more vertical clearance at the north portal than the south portal. Looking at the bridge's elevation, one can clearly see the inclined deck. This makes the Dean Road Bridge particularly rare. The Dean Road Bridge appears to retain good historic integrity. Although modern railings have been added, original pole railings remain on the bridge.

Rod Knight contacted HistoricBridges.org and offered the following additional information about the bridge:

I would like to point out a very special (maybe unique) feature of this bridge, in addition to all of the structural features that make it notable, and that is that the bridge does not span the entire riverbed, but only the river itself, which hugs the cliff at the south side of the riverbed. Traveling north, one enters the bridge from this cliff and travels slightly downhill as described.  Exiting the bridge, the road drops precipitously down a landfill ramp to the riverbed, and then, only after traversing the riverbed, climbs steeply back up the north bank to the other side.

At one time in danger of demolition and replacement, Lorain County and Erie County finally decided to rehabilitate and preserve this unique and beautiful historic bridge. It is a decision they will not regret and can be proud of. These counties deserve to be thanked for canceling demolition plans and instead preserving this bridge.

Information and Findings From Ohio's Historic Bridge Inventory

Setting/Context

The bridge carries a 2 lane road over a stream in a sparsely developed, wooded setting.

Physical Description

The 1 span, 176'-long, pin-connected, double-intersection Pratt through truss bridge has built-up compression members and eyebar tension members. It has lattice portal bracing with arched, latticed brackets. The floorbeams are connected to the verticals well above the lower-chord pins. There are knee braces from the lower chord pins to the floorbeams -- an unusual detail.

Summary of Significance

The 1898 Dean Road Bridge is NR listed (1978). This is a later example of its type/design (Whipple trusses were most popular in the 1870s-1880s) but it has some interesting details and was fabricated by a prominent Ohio bridge company. There has been no significant change in the bridge's status since the prior inventory.

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.

Justification

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 moderate significance because it is a later example of the type/design.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes

View PDF Historic Bridge Inventory Sheet

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Photo Galleries and Videos: Dean Road Bridge

 
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Structure Overview
Original / Full Size Photos
A collection of overview photos that show the bridge as a whole and general areas of the bridge. This gallery offers photos in the highest available resolution and file size in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Structure Details
Original / Full Size Photos
A collection of detail photos that document the parts, construction, and condition of the bridge. This gallery offers photos in the highest available resolution and file size in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Structure Overview
Mobile Optimized Photos
A collection of overview photos that show the bridge as a whole and general areas of the bridge. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Structure Details
Mobile Optimized Photos
A collection of detail photos that document the parts, construction, and condition of the bridge. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Video
Southbound Crossing
Full Motion Video
Streaming video of the bridge. Also includes a higher quality downloadable video for greater clarity or offline viewing.
View Video
Northbound Crossing
Full Motion Video
Streaming video of the bridge. Also includes a higher quality downloadable video for greater clarity or offline viewing.
View Video
Southbound Crossing
Full Motion Video
Streaming video of the bridge. Also includes a higher quality downloadable video for greater clarity or offline viewing.

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Maps and Links: Dean Road Bridge

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