Some sources listed this bridge with an 1887 construction date, although it is not known for sure if this is accurate. This small and altered bridge may not be a very visually appealing bridge, but it is rare as the only known example of an unusual patented bridge design. As shown in the patent, the full name of the person who held the patent was Evrett S. Sherman, and he lived in Galena, Ohio at the time. His bridge design as patented functions as an inverted Kingpost truss. Intended only for short spans, it uses diagonals that connect between end posts and a floor beam at the center of the short span. This would allow for deck stringers to be more shallow than if the bridge was built as a steel stringer bridge. As such it was a way to reduce materials costs.
The Utz Road Bridge appears to have been built as one of these patented bridges. As it is the only known surviving example, it is a highly significant bridge. That being said, the bridge is highly altered from its original construction. The deck stringers, although old, are not original. They bear "Jones and Laughlin" brand. Jones and Laughlins dropped the "s" in "Laughlins" in 1905, so these beams date to after 1905. Furthermore, they do most of the load-bearing these days, so that the bridge really functions as a steel stringer, and the inverted Kingpost portion does little to support the bridge anymore.
Information and Findings From Ohio's Historic Bridge Inventory
The bridge carries a 2 lane road over a stream in a rural area of active farms.
The 1-span, 21'-long bridge, although functioning as a steel stringer, incorporates remnants of a combination timber and iron truss bridge that matches the specifications of an 1877 patent by Evrett S. Sherman of Galena, Ohio. The 2-panel, inverted king post trusses have timber upper chords with a housing of galvanized sheet metal. The upper chords rest on rolled I-section end posts, which are not original, and were probably timber in the first iteration of the bridge. Cast-iron blocks at the ends of the upper chord beams provide bolted connections for paired, threaded diagonal iron rods that pass through the upper chords. At the other end of the diagonals are loop-welded eyes that support a pair of stirrups for the bridge's only floorbeam. The floorbeam is a rolled I-beam that is not original, and was probably timber. One of the truss lines has a timber vertical post at midspan, but the vertical has been lost from the other truss. The steel stringers and wood plank deck are not original. The bridge is supported on stone abutments.
The truss lines retain the form of the Sherman patented truss, but original materials appear to be the hardware, diagonals, and perhaps the timber upper chords and remaining vertical.
Summary of Significance
The bridge's technological significance is a very rare survival of a composite (wood and iron), short-span pony truss that matches the patent specifications of Evrett S. Sherman's patent of 1877 (No. 191,552). This patent was for short-span bridges, and was typical of the innovative period of truss development and the search for economical, easy-to-construct bridges that came in an almost infinite variety reflecting the inventors' choice of materials, web patterns, and details for connecting the members. Sherman, who haled from Galena, Ohio, claimed in his patent that "the construction and parts of this bridge are extremely simple, cheap, and as such require no skilled mechanics in bridge-building to erect." Although once common in the late 19th century, these type of short-span, composite pony truss bridges have all but virtually disappeared from the American landscape. The bridge has lost original fabric and is no longer functioning as intended, but retains sufficient original materials, including the iron hardware, to convey its technological significance as a very rare survival.
The bridge is rare example of a composite design and has high significance. It is also a rare design.
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes
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