This is an impressive five span stone arch bridge. Despite its age, it remains in good condition. While the deck and railings are modern, the stone underneath is original and largely unaltered aside from some pier enhancements. The bridge remains the primary bridge in Mt. Vernon and is extremely busy with lots of heavy traffic, a testiment to the quality of this bridge's construction. No modern bridge could hope to serve for this length of time with so few alterations to the superstructure.
The plaque on the bridge lists T.B. Townsend as the contractor, but also states that the stone is from Killbuck Brownstone Company. Brownstone is not just the name of the company, but also a type of stone apparantly used on this bridge. An 1896 Annual Report of Pennsylvania State College included a report on building materials, and included the following information about Brownstone in Ohio:
Brownstone occurs in several places in Ohio, as shown by the samples in
Orton Hall, at the Ohio State University, at Columbus, but the only one known in
the general market is the Killbuck stone. The quarry is located on a hill about
three quarters of a mile above the Killbuck station, on a branch of the Akron,
Cleveland and Ohio railway, which distance the stone is hauled by wagon. The
quarryhas been operated since 1886 by the Killbuck Sandstone Company, and the
stone has been shipped to many towns in Ohio, to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and in
small quantities to other states.
The stone is quite variegated in color, in fact as far as could be ob served, there is no stone of uniform color in the quarry, nor in the buildings in which it has been used. The color varies from dark gray to dark brown. It is coarse grained, even fine conglomerate in places. The thickness of the quarry stone varies from eight to thirty feet in different parts of the quarry; the overlying material consisting of shale and sandstone is 25 to 30 feet thick in the middle of the quarry.
The stone is apparently a strong, durable one, but can never be classed with the finer building stones, because of its variegated color. The drilling is done by hand and the stone wedged or blasted loose.
Another quarry is being opened (1806) about a mile north of the Killbuck station, which is said to have a thickness of 45 feet of stone of more uniform color than the older quarry.
The above report named the company "sandstone company" but the plaque on the bridge (and other sources) show the actual name as "brownstone company."
Information and Findings From Ohio's Historic Bridge Inventory
The bridge carries a 4 lane street over a stream in downtown Mt. Vernon.
The 5 span, 190'-long stone arch bridge has coursed ashlar arch barrels and spandrel walls. Earlier railings were removed and replaced with concrete parapets with tubular handrails in 1969. The bridge has bullnosed stone piers with concrete scour protection added.
Railing replacement (1969). Concrete toe walls/scour protection added around piers, 1969?
Summary of Significance
"The 1892 stone arch bridge has some alterations (railings, toe walls) but maintains it character defining features. There have been no significant changes in the bridge's status since the prior inventory. The eligible recommendation remains appropriate. Stone arch highway bridges and culverts are not uncommon in Ohio with more than 190 examples dating from ca. 1825 to 1940 (Phase 1A Survey, 2008). Significant examples date to the 2nd quarter of the 19th century (fewer than 26 pre-1851) and are often associated with historically important transportation routes such as the National Road and the state's early canals or railroads. Later examples may have significance on the merits of the aesthetic quality/craftsmanship of the masonry work or in association with parks, such as the stone arch bridges in Cleveland's Rockefeller Park (ca. 1897-1904) or Youngstown's Mill Creek Park (ca. 1913). Stone arch culverts have roadways on earth fill atop the arch, which may or may not have headwalls, but they are the same traditional technology as arch bridges that have spandrel walls and parapets. ""The immigrants who settled America came from European countries where masonry arch bridge construction was well established. Our most distinctive collection of stone arch bridges are found on the early, eastern trunkline railroads such as the B&O and Erie railroads. Early turnpikes such as the National Road had impressive stone arch bridges in Maryland. Along the road in Ohio, the famous S-bridges were built. Canals such as the Erie and the Chesapeake & Ohio had stone arch aqueducts. The technology of stone arch construction is ancient. Increased use of metal truss bridges from the late 1800s into the early twentieth century, led to a decline in stone arch bridge construction. The strength and durability of stone arch bridges made them popular. Generally, stone arch bridges built during the nineteenth century are found today in areas where good stone was available. Stone arches were common in the first half of the nineteenth century, and a number of these structures still exist. Stone arch bridges from the late eighteenth and first half of the nineteenth century are highly significant if they retain their character-defining features, which include the arch ring with keystone, barrel, spandrel wall, parapet, headwalls and abutments/wingwalls. Piers may also be a character-defining feature. Many of these stone arch structures possess both engineering and historical significance for their associations with the work programs of the Great 1930s. Stone arch bridges that do not fit within these areas (early, Depression-era, association with parks) generally possess less significance, but are still significant."" [From: A Context for Common Historic Bridge Types by Parsons Brinckerhoff, October 2005]"
A well represented bridge type throughout the state for both bridges and culverts, stone arch bridges date from the mid 1830s and the building of the National Road through Belmont Co. Many are superbly proportioned and constructed by local contractors. They were built through World War I, particularly during the later years in park settings. More than 125 examples remain. This example has moderate significance based on its date of construction, detailing, and historic contexts).
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes
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