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Helena Street Bridge

Island Park Bridge

Helena Street Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber

Bridge Documented: June 6, 2014

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Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Helena Street Over Great Miami River
Dayton: Montgomery County, Ohio: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1926 By Builder/Contractor: Wiley Construction Company of Dayton, Ohio and Engineer/Design: Smith - Chamberlain
Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
97.0 Feet (29.6 Meters)
Structure Length
308.0 Feet (93.9 Meters)
Roadway Width
32.2 Feet (9.81 Meters)
3 Main Span(s)
Inventory Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

This bridge no longer exists!

Bridge Status: This bridge was demolished and replaced.

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

This is a bridge that is historically significant for its ornamental details. It includes handsome sculptures at the abutments, and on the spandrel walls at the center of the bridge. Aesthetics likely played a major role in the design of this bridge because of its proximity to Island Park, and the bridge's use as an access to that park.

The contractor for this bridge, Wiley Construction Company, is assumed to be related to Wiley-Maxon Construction Company of Dayton, Ohio which was the builder of the Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge in Pennsylvania.

Dayton at one time had an impressive collection of concrete arch bridges, one of the finest in Ohio. In 2006, HistoricBridges.org made a bad decision to bypass Dayton's bridges in favor of bridges elsewhere in the region. Since that time, Dayton has demolished half of its historic concrete arch bridges. As of 2015, the remaining three face a future that is no brighter.

Information and Findings From Ohio's Historic Bridge Inventory


The bridge carries a 2 lane street over the Great Miami River at Island Park, a Dayton municipal park that dates to before 1900.

Physical Description

The 3 span, 308'-long reinforced-concrete arch bridge was built in 1926 and, according to a local history, had its sidewalks reconfigured in 1949. The bridge has sculpted shields above the piers and horizontal scoring in the spandrel walls. The scoring is repeated in the parapets, which appear to date to 1949 and are not believed to be original. At the abutment corners are pedestrian refuges sculpted to appear as amusement park boat rides with waves, seahorses, tridents, etc.

Summary of Significance

The 1926 deck arch bridge has uncommon architectural and sculptural details in deference to its park setting, illustrating the attention to setting and aesthetics that was a trademark of the best work of the state bridge bureau during the mid 1920s to 1930s. The eligible recommendation of the prior inventory remains appropriate. The 2007-08 ODOT Historic Bridge Inventory Update (Phase 1A) has identified more than 225 extant, reinforced-concrete, closed-spandrel arch bridges dating from 1896 to 1959. Fewer than 30 examples date to before 1910. These tend to represent innovative technology or early attempts at exploring the aesthetic qualities of the moldable material; earlier examples tend to have higher historical and technological significance than the later examples. Use of the reinforced-concrete, closed-spandrel arch technology reached its height during the 1910s and 1920s with more than 80% of Ohio's surviving examples dating from those two decades. The later examples generally do not represent innovative technology, although they sometimes have high aesthetic merit or significant settings/contexts."Closed spandrel arch bridges are the most basic of reinforced concrete bridge types. Closed spandrel means that the area between the deck and the arch ring was filled in. The spandrel wall actually serves as a retaining wall in the bridge, holding the fill material. Live loads are borne by the fill material and by the spandrel walls. The arch may be constructed either as a single structural element (barrel) or in separate parallel longitudinal ribs. The barrel arch design has some structural and visual similarities to stone arch bridges. The barrel arch is also sometimes faced with brick or stone, making it appear similar to a masonry arch bridge. This type of bridge is suitable for short span lengths. Closed spandrel concrete arches predate open spandrels, as the closed spandrel type harkens back to the stone arches that the earliest forms imitated. This type was not built for long as engineers realized that significant material could be saved and a reduction in weight could be achieved by eliminating the filled section. Hence, open spandrels were born. Filled spandrel concrete arches date primarily from the earliest decades of reinforced concrete (1890s through 1920s). They are not as common as many of the standardized bridge types built during this same era, such as concrete slabs and girders. They are significant because they are not common and represent the evolution of concrete technology. To be considered significant, filled spandrel arches should have integrity, through the retention of their character-defining features: arch ring, barrel, spandrel wall, railing or parapet, end posts, piers and/or abutments and wingwalls." [From: A Context for Common Historic Bridge Types by Parsons Brinckerhoff, October 2005]


The bridge is one of over 210 extant examples built in the state starting in 1897. It was during the first decade of the 20th century that the bridge type gained currency, and in Ohio the golden age of reinforced concrete arches was the two decades following World War I when over 140 of the remaining examples were constructed by cities, counties, and the bridge division of the state highway department under the leadership of J.R. Burkey and D. H. Overman.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes


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Maps and Links: Helena Street Bridge

This historic bridge has been demolished. This map is shown for reference purposes only.

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

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HistoricBridges.org Bridge Browser: View listed bridges within 10 miles (16 kilometers) of this bridge.

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

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