This bridge is one of a number of unusual pony truss bridges built by the Champion Bridge Company in Preble County well after the truss bridge era had come to a close in most of the country. They are noted for their use of modern design such as rolled beams and omission of any built-up beams, while continuing the older, traditional use of rivets for connections. The riveted connections are a contrast to the welded truss bridges that were built in Ohio around the same time as these bridges and continue to be built in the present day. The riveted connections add to the visual qualities of the bridges, compared to the plain-looking welded connections.
The 1950s and 1960s were the final home run of a transition from aesthetic bridge design to "purely functional" bridge design, where the "art" in bridge building came to a close thus ending a tradition of beauty in bridges. As a result, this bridge, with a 1958 construction date, represents the end of this transition. While it still has aesthetic value, mainly in the old-fashioned rivets, it is quite plain, with its rolled i-beams.
Preble County has a number of these unusual mid-20th century truss bridges remaining in the county. This is the oldest of them, with the somewhat unimpressive date of 1955. This bridge is also the second largest example of these bridges, with a length of 83 feet. The only other one longer is the Wesler Road Bridge, but it is actually the newest of the Preble County examples, with a 1964 construction date. As a result, it is appropriate to consider the Smith Road Bridge the most historically significant of all the other Champion Bridge Company bridges in Preble County, given its combination of length and construction date.
This bridge has a simple name plaque attached to the top chord, in addition to the standard plaques on the end posts. None of the other Champion Bridge Company bridges in Preble County had this top chord plaque. This may be because this is an older bridge, and they were still putting these plaques on back then.
Information and Findings From Ohio's Historic Bridge Inventory
Summary of Significance
The one span, 83' long, Warren with verticals pony truss bridge is riveted, and the 1981 ODOT bridge survey indicates it was fabricated for the county in 1955 by the Champion Bridge Company. The truss members are all rolled section and they are connected by rivets at the panel points. The bridge has no distinctive or innovative details, and is basically the same bridge built for decades. The Champion Bridge Company of Wilmington, incorporated in 1878, was among a handful of Ohio's bridge-building companies that survived into the latter part of the 20th century. Extant examples of the company's bridges from the 1940s and 1950s all have the traditional riveted shop and field connections. The firm continued to fabricate and erect steel bridges with most of the work in Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky. Champion reported that it had a reputation among county engineers for its quality work and knowledge of older truss bridges and ways to repair or strengthen them economically, "thus stretching limited county funds."
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: No
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