This bridge is the only known example that isn't in New York State of a "Whipple Arch" which was a cast iron bowstring and pioneering iron bridge design in America patented by famous engineer Squire Whipple. This bridge was originally located in Coshocton County and relocated here in 1998. It has an interesting backstory. Apparantly, its builder, Coshocton Iron Works was a company created in 1871 by Squire Whipple's nephew, James W. Shipman. This was the first bridge the company built. It was also supposedly the last when shortly after the bridge was built a boiler in the foundry blew up putting the newly formed company out of business.
The bridge is nationally significant as an early iron bridge, and for its association with Squire Whipple. It is one of the most significant historic bridges in Ohio.
Information and Findings From Ohio's Historic Bridge Inventory
The bridge carries a bike/pedestrian path over a stream on Ohio State University's Newark campus. It was previously located on TR 144 in Coshocton County.
See HAER OH-95.
Relocated in 1998.
Summary of Significance
"The Rodrick Bridge is a bowstring truss bridge constructed of cast-iron segments with a lower chord of wrought-iron chain. Built in 1872 by the Coshocton Iron Works, a company managed by James W. Shipman, nephew of Squire Whipple, it is believed to be the only surviving example, outside the State of New York, of a bridge based on the bowstring design patented by Squire Whipple in 1841 (from HAER OH-95). The bridge was NR listed in 1998 prior to being moved to the Ohio University's Newark campus. The bridge's relocation has not compromised its integrity, since its significance is technological and the rehab was sensitive to design and materials. It is a rare bridge based on the design of one of America's most famous bridge engineers. Its level of significance is national. 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 exceptional significance within even this distinguished population because it is the design developed by Squire Whipple and fabricated by his nephew.
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes
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