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Beach Road Bridge

Beach Road Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Rick McOmber

Bridge Documented: June 20, 2010

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Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Westerville Bikeway Over Alum Creek
Westerville: Franklin County, Ohio: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1888 By Builder/Contractor: Columbus Bridge Company of Columbus, Ohio
Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
173.0 Feet (52.7 Meters)
Structure Length
179.0 Feet (54.6 Meters)
Roadway Width
16 Feet (4.88 Meters)
1 Main Span(s)
Inventory Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

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

This bridge is rare as a Whipple truss, but is even more rare as a surviving example of a bridge built by the Columbus Bridge Company, a local bridge builder. Only a couple other examples of this company's work appear to remain in the country. This bridge was relocated from Beach Road over Big Darby Creek on the Madison County line.

The historic integrity of the bridge remains good even after this relocation, although the original railings are missing. On the note of railings, the current railing system on the bridge is very heavy and is welded directly to all of the compression vertical members. Further, it is not evident that there are any expansion joints installed on this railing. Because these railings are so massive, because this is a long pin-connected Whipple truss, and because no expansion joints are apparent, these railings may be freezing the bridge up and interfering with the bridge's ability to function correctly. Pin-connected truss bridges are not supposed to be rigid; their members are intended to move and flex. When they cannot move, this tends to present as bowing in the bottom chord and other tension members. While it is not apparent if this is occurring, it was noted that the railing itself appears to be warping, possibly under the stress of the bridge tying to flex as it needs to.

When the Charlotte Highway Bridge was restored, far more lightweight railings were placed on the bridge, yet even with these, expansion joints were specifically installed on the railings to allow the bridge to flex as needed.

Information and Findings From Ohio's Historic Bridge Inventory


The bridge carries a pedestrian trail/bike path over a stream in Westerville.


Relocated from Beach Road over Big Darby Creek in 1999. Relocated to City of Westerville in 1999. Award October 31, 2000.

Summary of Significance

The pin-connected double-intersection Pratt thru truss bridge was relocated in 1999. It retains its integrity of design and materials. It is a technologically significant example of its type/design, fabricated by a local bridge company. The eligible recommendation of the prior inventory remains appropriate.

Double-intersection Pratt trusses, also known as Whipple or Murphy-Whipple trusses, were among the most successful of long-span thru truss designs (up to 300' long) of the 1860s to 1890s for both railroad and vehicular crossings. Surviving examples are uncommon nationally and considered technologically significant; Ohio with at least 14 identified examples dating from 1881 to 1898 (Phase 1A survey, 2008) has a very high number in comparison to most other states. The truss design is characterized by diagonals that extend over two panels. In 1847, Squire Whipple, one of America's foremost bridge engineers, developed the design figuring that the double-intersection configuration increased the depth of panel without altering the optimal angle of the diagonals, thus allowing for increased span length. His design was further refined in 1859 by John W. Murphy, the talented chief engineer of Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley RR, who substituted wrought-iron pins for cast-iron connecting pieces, thus developing the connection detail that would prove to be advanced construction practice for this and other truss designs for the next several decades. Ohio's surviving examples, which mostly date to the 1880s, were not cutting edge for their time, but they show how the form had evolved into the preferred long-span thru truss design of the period. Most have documented associations with prominent Ohio-based fabricators.


There are 13 examples of the bridge type important to the development and maturation of the pin-connected thru truss bridge. They date from 1881 and concentrate in the 1880s. Even though there are more than 12 extant examples in Ohio, each built in the 1880s has high significance based on overall scarcity (everywhere but in Ohio) of the design. This is a major and technologically significant bridge type. The bridge has high significance.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes

View PDF Historic Bridge Inventory Sheet

This bridge is tagged with the following special condition(s): Reused


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Maps and Links: Beach Road Bridge

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2021 National Bridge Inventory: View listed bridges within 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) of this bridge.

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