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St. James Road Bridge

St. James Road Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber

Bridge Documented: May 15, 2008 and August 12, 2012

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
St. James Road (CR-141 East) Over Olentangy River
Location
Rural: Marion County, Ohio: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
By Builder/Contractor: Unknown

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
1987
Main Span Length
188 Feet (57.3 Meters)
Structure Length
193 Feet (58.8 Meters)
Roadway Width
28.5 Feet (8.69 Meters)
Spans
1 Main Span(s)
NBI Number
5132428

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

This bridge is in storage!

Bridge Status: This historic bridge is in storage in Michigan, and it is uncertain if and when it might be reused.

View Archived National Bridge Inventory Report - Has Additional Details and Evaluation

This bridge had a 1937 construction date for it listed, and an unusual plaque on the abutment also lists 1937. It is assumed that this actually refers to a rehabilitation date. While pin-connected Parker truss bridges such as this might date to as late as 1915, by 1937 pin-connected truss bridges were a thing of the past. Unless this is a bizarre, late example of this bridge type, it is assumed the construction date is unknown.

Otherwise, this is a traditional example of a less common truss type and it appears to retain good overall historic integrity. Its arched shape and extensive use of v-lacing on its built-up beams makes this a particularly beautiful truss bridge, despite lack of architectural embellishment.

The replacement for this genuine historic truss bridge with a wooden covered bridge. To replace a genuine historic bridge with a modern bridge that attempts to mimic a different historic bridge type is a rather blatant acknowledgement of the strange and really quite ridiculous approach that the United States takes with historic bridges. Across the United States, nearly every historic wooden covered bridge has been preserved, while historic metal truss bridges, many with a greater level of significance than most covered bridges, are being demolished, with only a tiny sliver being preserved. The St. James Bridge was lucky because a third party stepped in to save it. If they hadn't this historic truss bridge would have been demolished. To demolish a historic truss and replace with a "fake" modern covered bridge is like putting salt in the wound. It serves only to further the common misconception among the general public that wooden covered bridges are the only type of bridge that is "historic." Furthermore, Marion County's claims that a replacement wooden covered bridge would last over 100 years is highly questionable. Many historic metal truss bridges utilize wooden decks. Wooden decks are replaced many times over the service life of a bridge. This illustrates that wood is a temporary construction material, while iron and steel is much more permanent. Furthermore, in the 1880s, metal replaced wood as the preferred bridge material, as engineers, contractors, and government agencies, in their wisdom, cast aside wood for more reliable iron and steel. Wooden covered bridges were susceptible to rotting and destruction by floods. They also are much more susceptible to fire damage. Most historic covered bridges remaining today have very little original material remaining because the original wood rotted and had to be replaced. They also often have extensive fire suppression systems.

Information and Findings From Ohio's Historic Bridge Inventory

Setting/Context

The bridge carries 1 lane of a 2- lane road over a stream at a T-intersection with Whetstone River Road in a rural area of active farms. The geometry is poor because the 1-lane bridge is at an intersection with a 2-lane collector road, and the narrowness of the truss bridge restricts turning movements. There is no stacking room on either road.

Physical Description

The 1 span, 193'-long, pin-connected Parker thru truss bridge is traditionally composed of built-up box sections for the upper chords and inclined end posts. The verticals are also built up using channels and lacing, and all connections at the panel points are with pins. The floorbeams are connected to the verticals above the lower chord pins. The bridge is supported on concrete abutments.

Integrity

Railings replaced. Possibly relocated here in 1937.

Summary of Significance

The ca. 1905 pin-connected Parker thru truss bridge ranks as 1 of the 2 oldest examples of the Parker or Camelback design in Ohio [NB -- the oldest (SFN 07XXXX1, 1893) in Belmont County over the Ohio River Back Channel (owned by WVDOT) is slated to be demolished later this year]. It is technologically significant as one of Ohio's most complete ,surviving examples of a sloped-chord, long-span, pin-connected highway truss bridge with typical period detailing (Criterion C). Although the truss bridge is dated 1937 by a plaque, the bridge's steel truss superstructure actually dates ca. 1900 by style, design of its members, pin connections, and its 16' deck width. According to county records, the bridge was relocated here from State Route 4 (Marysville-Marion Road) over the Scioto River in 1937. Marysville-Marion Road was taken into the state highway system as State Route 115 about 1911 and renamed State Route 4 about 1921. County highway maps from 1914 and 1919 show a bridge crossing the Scioto River at that location. The truss bridge was in all likelihood originally a county bridge prior to being taken into the state system in 1911. It was returned to county ownership when it was relocated in 1937. The salvage and relocation of old truss bridges was (and still is) a common practice, and this portability was one of the "selling points" of the technology. The original date of construction and fabricator are not noted by available records. The Parker design, with its polygonal upper chords, which save material and concentrate depth at the center of the center of the trusses where it is needed, is used because of the nearly 200' length of the span. With the exception of replacement railings, the truss retains the integrity of design and materials needed for technological significance in comparison to the statewide population of bridges of similar type/design and age. The relocation of the truss in 1937 does not impact the eligibility evaluation since the bridge's significance is derived from its technology and the integrity of design and materials of the truss superstructure has been retained.

Camelback and Parker trusses are members of the Pratt-family of trusses with sloped top chords. Technologically, Camelback and Parker trusses differ only in the number of top chord slopes (Camelbacks have exactly five slopes, and Parkers have more than five slopes.) The sloped-chord trusses provide the greatest depth at midspan where it is needed to accommodate the stresses, meaning that less material is needed in their construction as compared to a parallel chord truss of similar span, but fabrication is made more difficult due to the varying lengths of the members. The sloped-chord trusses are often associated with longer spans where the savings in material is great enough to be worth the additional fabrication costs. The practice of sloping the top chords dates to at least the 1840s and appeared early in the development of metal trusses. As with other truss designs, pin connections were used from the 1870s to 1900s, and mostly phased out during the 1910s. Rivet connections were being used by the early 1900s and were prevalent from the 1910s to 1940s. Standardized rivet-connected Camelback and Parker designs were used by many state highway departments, including the Ohio State Highway Department. There are 24 trusses (8 Camelback, 16 Parker; 7 pinned, 17 riveted) in the Ohio inventory dating from 1893 to 1959 (Phase 1A, 2008).

Justification

The pin connected thru truss bridge is one of 13 extant examples of bridges with polygonal upper chords and/or subdivided panels in the state that date from 1888 until 1923. It is of moderate significance given that the numbers in the population.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes

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Photo Galleries and Videos: St. James Road Bridge

 
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Maps and Links: St. James Road Bridge

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