May 30, 2013

5/25/13 - Covered Bridges in Ohio

Ashtabula County calls itself the "Covered Bridge Capital of Ohio".  There are 18 covered bridges in the county, including the longest and the shortest in the US.  Before you read further, see how much you know about covered bridges.   

(Answers Below) 
1.  Why are covered bridges covered?
          a)  To make good tourist attractions
          b)  To prevent ice from forming on the flooring
          c)  To protect the trusses in the ceiling
2.  How long will a covered bridge last?
          a)  20 years
          b)  100-200 years
          c)   Don't have a clue, but probably indefinitely.
3.  What are covered bridges made of?  (Don't cheat and look at the pictures!)
          a)  stone
          b)  wood
          c)  concrete and steel

 We went on the self-guided bridge tour.  That means George drove the "tour truck" and I read the Covered Bridge Tours Guide out loud.  We checked out 10 of them, including the longest, but not the shortest in the US.
The historical ones had Town Lattice construction and were built with big wooden pegs. 

Most of them have been renovated, adding laminated arches, like this one.  Or maybe concrete piers.  If I'm going to drive on a 150-year-old bridge, I prefer it renovated so it doesn't fall down while I'm on it.  (Oh, wait!  We did drive on these bridges.  None of them even creaked.)
Oddly enough, they're not all from the 19th century.  It seems that Ohio is still building covered bridges.  I don't know about other states. 
Netcher Road Bridge, built in 1999, 110' long, clearance 14'6"
 You can't drive across this one anymore, but you could have a picnic inside.

Graham Road Bridge, built in 1913, 97' long

And here's the longest covered bridge in the US. It was built in 2008(!)  Engineering and structural design was done by the former County Engineer, and architectural design by the current County Engineer.  Personally, I think they just like building bridges and their hobby is paid for with taxes.
Smolen-Gulf Bridge, 613' long
 1.  c)  To protect the trusses in the ceiling.  What they really want to protect in a covered bridge is the superstructure--the trusses. Made of heavy timber before the days of treated lumber, these are the expensive part of the bridge.  If they rot due to exposure to the weather, the bridge falls apart.  One of the jobs of a bridge tender was to shovel snow ONTO the bridge surface so that horse-drawn sleighs could cross. 
2.  b)  A covered bridge will last 100-200 years, maybe more.  An uncovered plank bridge will last only 10-20 years.  Depends on the weather, how many heavy trucks cross, and whether some adolescent plays with matches.
3.  By now you've seen the pictures, so you know they're made of b) wood, whatever kind was handy where they needed a bridge.

Go here for all 10 of the covered bridges we saw.  Ashtabula County Covered Bridges

Post a comment.

Post a Comment

Please leave comments here: