This bridge is a rare example of a Pratt bedstead truss bridge, with its legs encased in concrete. The truss retains excellent historic integrity, including an original builder plaque. Sadly, the plaque does not convey a construction date. The bridge has been abandoned. The bridge should be restored, either in place or relocated, most likely for non-motorized traffic. The preservation of bedstead truss bridges should come without thinking. They are small and thus inexpensive to restore, and in addition that are an unusual and rare form of bridge.
Field inspection of bridges suspected to be bedstead truss bridges is of high importance. Vertical endposts do not automatically mean the bridge is a bedstead. It is only a bedstead truss if the endposts extend below the bottom chord to act as supports. This bridge throws a curve ball. At first glance it appears to be a pony truss with vertical endposts. However a close inspection of the abutment reveals a large crack, and part of the endpost is visible running inside the concrete downward below the bottom chord, proving that this bridge is indeed a bedstead truss with its legs encased in concrete. If there had not been concrete deterioration on this bridge, another way to tell would have been to observe that there is no bearing where the end post meets the abutment, which would also show that the endpost did indeed continue downward into the concrete itself.
The finding of this bridge in the Historic Bridge Inventory as Not Eligible is extremely troubling and HistoricBridges.org strongly disagrees with this finding. In the discussion, the reviewer does first rightly note that the bedstead design with vertical members is not common, although "extremely rare" would have been a more accurate wording given remaining examples both in Ohio and nationwide today. However, after noting the bedstead design and recognizing it as uncommon, they then go on to compare it against all pin-connected Pratt pony truss bridge including the typical inclined end post pony truss bridges. In determining significance, Bedstead truss bridges should not be compared to inclined end post truss bridges. Although bedstead truss bridges are the same type "pin-connected Pratt pony truss" bridges, the vertical end post "bedstead" design stands on its own as a bridge design, and bedstead bridges should be evaluated as a separate category. Bedstead truss bridges were an innovative design that was developed with an eye toward reducing substructure costs by allowing the end posts to be vertical and extend below the deck allowing them to also function as bents. In the long-term they proved to be unreliable bridges in many situations, because the integral legs were susceptible to flood damage. However they are important from a historical perspective because they are evidence of different priorities and needs in terms of bridge design, costs, and materials. They are extremely rare today, and surviving examples that retain the majority of their original design and materials should be considered eligible for the National Register under Criterion C as rare examples of this creative engineering design.
Information and Findings From Ohio's Historic Bridge Inventory
The bridge originally serviced a one lane rural road. The bridge is closed and the road is overgrown. The bridge was closed in 2002.
The one span, 50'-long and 16' wide, 4-panel, bedstead design, pin-connected Pratt pony truss bridge is supported on concrete or stone encased abutments. The truss lines are traditionally composed with built up upper chords and verticals, including the vertical end posts, and the diagonals are eyebars.
There is damage to upstream side lower chord and considerable impacted rust to the upper chords and end posts. There are also repairs to the verticals.
Summary of Significance
The bedstead design Pratt pony truss bridge with standardized details was fabricated by the Bellefonte Bridge & Iron Co. It dates stylistically to ca. 1895. While the design with vertical end posts (a detail that provides stiffness) are not common, the bridge exhibits no innovative or distinctive details. It is a later example of a pin-connected Pratt pony truss bridge in a state that has many, complete early examples. The bridge is not historically or technologically significant. The Bellefontaine Bridge & Steel Co. of Bellefontaine, Ohio, was one of the many Ohio bridge-fabricating companies that served the regional market in steel highway bridges during the early 20th century. Its designs of this period are not distinctive in and of themselves but reflect the increasing standardization of detail that was the hallmark of rivet-connected highway truss type/design. The ODOT inventory includes five documented examples of the company's work dating from ca. 1895 to 1916 (July 2009).
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: No
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