This bridge is a classic example of a Wrought Iron Bridge Company pin-connected Pratt through truss. The prolific bridge builder went through an evolution of bridge designs. This transition bridge shows a movement away from its earlier patented designs to a more standard design, yet is not one of the later designs found in the 1890s. This bridge has been preserved in its original location for pedestrian use. An unusual detail on this bridge is the riveted channel railing on the bridge which is not known if it is original. Modern Armco style guardrail is also present below the channel.
Information and Findings From Ohio's Historic Bridge Inventory
The bridge has been by-passed and converted to pedestrian-only use. It is located in Gilboa.
The 1 span, 139'-long, pin-connected Pratt thru truss bridge is traditionally composed of built-up compression members and eye-bar or rod tension members.
Summary of Significance
There has been no significant change in the truss bridge's status since the prior inventory. It has been bypassed and preserved as a pedestrian facility. ODOT reports that the bridge is NR Listed (status field) as a contributing resource in the Gilboa Main St. HD. This is an excellent and early example of the dominant highway truss type/design of the late 19th century. It is among the 10 oldest pin connected Pratt thru truss bridges remaining in the state. 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design of the last quarter of the 19th century and continued to be built into the 20th century, although eventually superseded in popularity by Warren trusses.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. It is among the 10 oldest Pratt thru truss bridges in the state.
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes
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