This monstrous cantilever truss bridge was a magnificent structure that was historically and technologically significant as an excellent example of landmark cantilever construction, and included features such as built-up members, rivets, and a complex network of bracing not seen in modern bridge construction. In particular however, the bridge was significant as a pre-1930 cantilever truss bridge. Particularly among highway bridges, pre-1930 cantilever truss bridges are the smallest in surviving numbers, and are also the most significant because they are the oldest. Also, because of the number of large rivers in the country, as well as the cost of bridging such large rivers, there is a very small total number of cantilever bridges of any age in the United States compared to other bridge types, making each example more rare and significant.
The traditionally configured cantilever spans includes two piers that each held a cantilever arm and anchor arm, with a large 12 panel Pratt through truss suspended span in the center. The Pomeroy-Mason bridge was noted for its quite discernable camber that was very gracefully curved and added to the aesthetic appearance of the bridge. The bridge's significance was derived from its cantilever spans, however the structure had a number of small approach spans as well, with all but one span located on the West Virginia side. A detailed diagram of all bridge spans with the
Original plans and postcards show that this bridge was originally known as the Pomeroy Bend Bridge. It also was a toll bridge, and both a historical postcard and the original plans show a beautiful, elaborate toll house was originally a part of the bridge, positioned on the West Virginia side of the bridge. It is not known when the toll house was removed. The postcard shown here was acquired from the Digital Collections of the Columbus Library and on the back of the postcard the description describes that the bridge was acquired by Ohio in 1936, and apparently remained a toll bridge until it was paid off, at which point it became a free bridge.
The Pomeroy Bend Bridge was acquired on November 1, 1936 by the State Bridge Commission of Ohio, appointed by the Honorable Martin L. Davey, Governor of Ohio, for the purpose of making it a free bridge. It is an important link of the Blue and Gray Trail, U.S. Route 33, beginning at St. Joseph, Michigan, crossing the beautiful Ohio River at Pomeroy, Ohio, and extending to Richmond, Virginia. Use this bridge and help make it free.
The Pomeroy-Mason bridge is noted for its extensive network of trusses that are also covered in lattice and v-lacing creating an infinitely complex structure that is a beautiful work of geometric art. The bridge also has a shallow, graceful arch to its deck, that is more defined than in some other cantilever bridges. The bridge features an easily identified suspended span at the center. The suspended span of a cantilever bridge is that section of the bridge that is essentially a single-span truss bridge that is held over the water by the large cantilever arms that branch out from the towers over the bridge piers.
Meigs County, Ohio apparently thinks the new bridge will offer more for people to look at than the existing historic bridge. The county claims on their website that the new bridge "is expected to draw thousands of tourists to view the unique structure that will be both picturesque and efficient for traffic." This clearly represents a lack of awareness about the future of bridges. The historic Pomeroy-Mason Bridge may not be drawing "thousands of tourists" but it is drawing many. HistoricBridges.org is not the only bridge website including it. It is highly unlikely that the new bridge will ever draw "thousands of tourists" because the bridge is not unique as they claim. Indeed, numerous cable-stayed bridges have been built over the past decade, with many more planned or under construction. In contrast, the number of remaining pre-1950 cantilever bridges are dropping in number as they are replaced often by these cable-stayed bridges. Pre-1950 cantilever truss bridges offer much more in the way of beauty and historic value than cantilever bridges built after that date. Pre-1950 cantilever bridges offer riveted and pinned connections as well as built-up members and chords with attractive lattice and v-lacing. They offer unique variations in truss configuration and bridge shape, as engineers tried different ideas based on location, money, and research of the period. If the Pomeroy-Mason Bridge had instead been preserved, ten years from now it might be quite a rare attraction, with an extremely high level of historic value. Instead, the communities of Pomeroy and Mason will be left with a cable-stayed bridge which will most likely be quite a common structure ten years from now. Aside from variations on tower design, location, and number of towers, cable stayed bridges are usually quite plan in appearance. They often feature a simple concrete slab deck, simple concrete towers, and straight cables leading from concrete tower to concrete deck. While minimalist artists might appreciate this design, such a bridge does not offer the intricate geometric art that comes from a network of thousands of trusses. Everyone's opinion of beauty is different, but what is known for a fact is that the replacement Pomeroy-Mason Bridge will be anything but unique.
There has been nearly no efforts at genuine long-term preservation on the surviving pre-1950 cantilever bridges on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. The fate of bridges like the Pomeroy-Mason Bridge emphasize the need to preserve the dwindling number of remaining structures.
Above: Diagram of spans, showing approach spans and span lengths. Click for larger image. Not To Scale.
This historic bridge has been demolished. This map is shown for reference purposes only.
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