This bridge is a cast and wrought iron bowstring truss bridge built by the Champion Bridge Company. Like many companies during the 1870s, Champion Bridge Company designed and patented unique details for bowstring bridges it built. The design that the Champion Bridge Company patented stands out as one of the more unusual designs however, both in terms of technical design and visual appearance. The most unusual and visually distinctive component is the top chord, which is extremely complex in design. It is composed of three curved bars that are held together by pipes, bolds, and cast iron blocks which are specially shaped to fit. The top chord almost has a skeletal look to it, like a spine/backbone of some strange animal.
Another fascinating detail on this bridge is that the vertical members, which are rods, split at the bottom to form a u-bolt. In other words, the vertical members and u-bolt hangers are all one single forged unit!
This bridge was replaced, but the bridge was narrowed to sidewalk width and placed next to its replacement bridge as a pedestrian walkway. Aside from being narrowed, the bridge retains excellent historic integrity. Only three Champion Bridge Company bowstrings are known to survive today. Of those three, this bridge is the only one whose trusses continue to offer a load-bearing function. With the other examples, the trusses were mounted on new bridges and are decorative only. That said, it is interesting to compare this bridge to one of the other examples, which has some different details, particularly with the outriggers and vertical members.
Information and Findings From Ohio's Historic Bridge Inventory
The bridge carries a sidewalk over a stream in a rural setting north of New Holland.
The 1 span, 30'-long, bowstring pony truss bridge has an arch composed of plates held by a zigzag arrangement of braces fabricated by bolts, pipe, and blocks. The bowstring arches are the characteristic patented Champion Bridge Co. design with three iron plates bowed in an arch shape and stiffened by a zigzag web of rods, bolts, and cast-iron connecting pieces. The verticals and diagonals are a cross-shaped section. The diagonals are rods with threaded ends. The lower chords are wrought-iron bars that have bolted splices and that are looped around special cast iron shoes at the bearings. The bridge is supported on concrete abutments.
Moved aside and narrowed as a pedestrian bridge (1984).
Summary of Significance
The 1876 bowstring truss is a rare and technologically significant example of a Champion Wrought Iron Arch, patented by Zimri and Jonathan Wall of Wilmington, Ohio, in 1874. The bridge's flooring system is modern, dating to when it was converted to pedestrian use in 1984, but the truss lines remain intact and continue to convey the bridge's technological significance. The eligible recommendation of the prior inventory remains appropriate.Bowstring trusses are characterized by arched top chords and a trussed or lattice web. They rank among the rarest and most technologically significant of 19th-century metal truss designs since they appeared early in the evolution of iron bridge development and were almost always based on the patents or proprietary designs of bridge builders and engineers. The progenitor of the form was the famed engineer Squire Whipple of New York, who built the first example in 1840 over the Erie Canal at Utica. After the Civil War, Ohio was a center for the development of the bowstring with its concentration of metal bridge-building companies. Companies such Wrought Iron Bridge, Champion Bridge, Massillon Bridge, and King Iron Bridge built their reputations on successful bowstring designs with a dizzying number of variant ways of forming and connecting the truss members. The companies emerged in time to fill the burgeoning demand for an economical, prefabricated bridge for use on American roads. Bowstring trusses thus document this exceptionally inventive and technologically significant period in the development of American metal trusses from the 1860s to early 1880s. The ODOT inventory has identified 22 surviving examples dating from ca. 1864 to 1880 (Phase 1A, 2008).
The bridge is one of the 22 extant bowstring truss bridges that survive in the state. Having so many is remarkable, and even though they are "common" based on their numbers, each is an important and irreplaceable record of the development of the metal truss bridge and the ingenuity associated with the Ohio industrial development. The bridge has high significance.
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes
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