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Old Zoar Bridge

Old Zoar Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber

Bridge Documented: August 1, 2007 and October 30, 2016

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Old CR-82 Over Tuscarawas River
Near Dover: Tuscarawas County, Ohio: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1883 By Builder/Contractor: Wrought Iron Bridge Company of Canton, Ohio

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
Not Available
Structure Length
Not Available
Roadway Width
Not Available
3 Main Span(s)
NBI Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

This bridge is one of the most unusual bridges in Ohio, and it has a very high level of historic significance due to its rare design. The bridge is in overall design a traditional pin-connected Pratt through truss, and with an 1883 construction date, is significant as an early example. However, it is a three span continuous bridge, making it an extremely early and highly unusual example of a continuous truss bridge. It is also rare as an example of a pin-connected Pratt truss bridge that is continuous. The pin-connected Pratt truss bridges which became a traditional standard and were built across the country during the last two decades of the 1800s were nearly always built as simple spans. The Old Zoar Bridge is a noteworthy deviation from this. It is unclear why the Wrought Iron Bridge Company built this bridge as a continuous structure.

Fortunately, the future of this historic bridge appears secure. The bridge has been preserved and is now in use as a non-motorized crossing.

The bridge has lattice sway bracing where each span meets, and on these sections, if you look closely, you can see that some of the lattice is made of angles, and where they were, they were bent and flattened at the ends to fit in between back-to-back angles. This is an interesting detail to note.

Overall, the preservation of this bridge appears to have been executed in an acceptable manner. However, there is one issue to note in the hope that future bridge preservation projects will not repeat a serious error. Original railings do not remain on the bridge. The most problematic issue with the quality of the preservation of this bridge is the current railings which are thick wooden boards. This type of railing has been a serious problem because so many truss bridges use this in a preservation project. This should be considered an unacceptable installation because there are numerous alternatives that provide a reasonable amount of safety while also not obstructing the view of the historic superstructure.

Information and Findings From Ohio's Historic Bridge Inventory


Access bridge from Eberhart Rd NW.

Physical Description

The 3 span, pin-connected Pratt thru truss bridge has built-up compression members and eyebar or rod tension members. It has the cast connecting pieces at the upper chord-end posts connections through which to thread the diagonals, so typical of Wrought Iron Bridge Co. bridges of this period. There are lattice portal bracing with lattice brackets and builders plaques. The available photo appears to show the truss to be continuous over the piers, a very unusual practice for 1883.

Summary of Significance

The 1883 pin-connected Pratt thru truss bridge on old CR 82 was bypassed prior to 1976. Although there was some threat of removing the bridge in the mid 1980s, it was eventually rehabilitated for use as part of the Zoar Valley Trail in 2004. It is a very technologically significant example of its type/design with details associated with the Wrought Iron Bridge Co., a prominent Ohio fabricator. The eligible recommendation of the prior inventory remains appropriate.

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. Significant unaltered examples of riveted-connected Pratt trusses date from ca. 1900 to 1915.


The bridge is one of over 150 extant pin-connected truss bridges dating from 1874 for pony trusses and 1876 for thru trusses. Twenty six predate 1888 and represent the era of experimentation that evolved into standardized designs by about 1888. This example has moderate significance because the genre and the fabricator are so well represented in Ohio.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes

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


Photo Galleries and Videos: Old Zoar Bridge

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Bridge Photo-Documentation
A collection of overview and detail photos. This photo gallery contains a combination of Original Size photos and Mobile Optimized photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
2016 Additional Unorganized Photos
Original / Full Size Photos
A supplemental collection of photos that are from additional visit(s) to the bridge and have not been organized or captioned. 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
2016 Additional Unorganized Photos
Mobile Optimized Photos
A supplemental collection of photos that are from additional visit(s) to the bridge and have not been organized or captioned. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer


Maps and Links: Old Zoar Bridge

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