This is a very old railroad truss bridge that was relocated and reused as a highway bridge. It has Trenton NJ brands on some of its members, as well as unusual portal bracing design and unusual built-up vertical members. These are all indications of a very old railroad bridge perhaps dating to ca. 1880. It was moved here and turned into a highway bridge ca. 1919.
Information and Findings From Ohio's Historic Bridge Inventory
The bridge carries a 1 lane road over a railroad track in a rural setting. At the west end of the bridge is the T-intersection with SR 644. The rail line crossed by the bridge was established ca. 1845 by the Cleveland & Pittsburgh Railway (C&P). The C&P was incorporated in 1836 in the state of Ohio, but incorporation in Pennsylvania was delayed nearly a decade before construction began. The C&P's main line connected Pittsburgh to Cleveland by way of Rochester, Pa. and Steubenville, Oh., with branches to Bellaire and New Philadelphia, Ohio. The line was absorbed into the Pennsylvania RR system in 1871. About 1919, the Pennsylvania RR regraded and double-tracked the old C&P line in the vicinity of Summitville, Ohio. The original line had curved to the east following Brush Creek Fork through the village of Millport. The new straighter alignment adopted in 1919 cut through the hills west of Millport, rejoining the original line near the Columbiana-Carroll county line at McKaig Road. The Columbiana Board of County Commissioners had previously authorized the railroad to change its grade and that of certain highways on Aug. 27, 1917. As a result, the railroad was obliged to build a bridge where its new cut intersected Yellow Creek Church Road, a previously existing county road. The through truss is the bridge placed by the railroad about 1919.
The 1 span, 107'-long, pin-connected Pratt thru truss bridge is supported on concrete abutments. The bridge has eyebars for the lower chords and diagonals. The upper chords are built-up sections of toe-in channels with cover plates and lacing. The verticals are built-up sections of toe-in channels with lacing. The floorbeam hangers in the end panels are paired eyebars with Z-plate web. The upper lateral bracing are an unusual built-up configuration of channel with battens riveted to the flanges. There are angle brackets at the portals and the interior upper laterals. The built-up floorbeams are framed into the vertical with angle plates above the lower chord pins. The wrought-iron end posts are rolled with the makers mark of "Trenton" for the Trenton Iron Works, Trenton, N.J.
The bridge has integrity of design and materials. It was relocated here ca. 1919.
Summary of Significance
The ca. 1880 pin-connected Pratt thru truss is technologically significant because it is an early example of its type/design that was originally designed for railroad loadings (Criterion C). It has several unusual details, characteristic of the era prior to standardization of design in the 1890s, including the Z-web in the floorbeam hangers and the composition of the upper chord and end posts. The "Trenton" mark in the iron members indicates they were rolled at the Trenton (N.J.) Iron Works, established in 1846 and widely recognized as the first mill in the United States to roll structural iron shapes like I beams and channels. In the late 19th century, the works did a variety of production, including making wire and fabricating bridges, but it is not known whether this bridge was fabricated at Trenton or whether it merely used Trenton-made sections. The works was absorbed into the U.S. Steel Co. in 1904. The style/design of the truss dates ca. 1880, but it was not placed here until ca. 1919. This reflects the typical challenge that railroads faced as increasing steam-locomotive weights drove the evolution of truss bridge design promoting innovation and frequent replacement of bridges to meet the increased loads. Pin-connected truss bridges, because of the problems associated with stress reversals under heavy loads, became a particular concern, promoting the transition from pinned to riveted connections starting the mid 1890s to 1900s. Older truss bridges were not uncommonly re-used as highway overpasses where loads were not so great. The original location of this bridge is unknown. According to county atlases and records, the bridge was placed ca. 1919 by the Pennsylvania RR as part of a project to improve its line that served as a freight route between the upper Ohio Valley and Cleveland. The construction of the cut to maintain a steady grade necessitated the construction of an overpass where the line intersected Willard Road northwest of Millport. Pratt trusses were undoubtedly the most popular truss design of the last quarter of the 19th century and continued to be built into the 20th century, although eventually superseded in popularity by Warren trusses. The design, which initially was a combination of wood compression and iron tension members, was patented in 1844 by Thomas & Caleb Pratt. The great advantage of the Pratt over other designs was the relative ease of calculating the distribution of stresses. More significantly, it translated well into an all-metal design in lengths of less than 200'. Significant surviving examples of all-metal Pratt trusses mostly date to the last quarter of the 19th century, and they are found with thru, pony, and the less common bedstead configuration. Prior to about 1890, a variety of panel point connections were in widespread use (including bolts, cast-iron pieces, and pins), but engineering opinion was coalescing around pins as the most efficient and constructible. Many of the connection details were proprietary and associated with individual builders or companies, and thus earlier examples are generally taken to be technologically significant in showing the evolution of the design. Later post-1890 Pratt trusses show a progression toward less variation in their details such that by 1900 the design was quite formulaic with few significant differences between the designs of various builders. This marked the end of the pin-connected Pratt's technological evolution and, in fact, it was soon waning and eclipsed in the highway bridge market by more rigid, rivet-connected truss designs, particularly the Warren but also riveted Pratts. The transition to riveted connections, which happened even earlier with railroads than highways, was in no small part due to concerns about stress reversals at the pins under heavier loads and improvements in pneumatic field riveting equipment in the early 1900s.
The bridge is a rare example of an early railroad bridge. It has high significance.
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes
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