Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Rainbow Arch Bridge on Old Route 20

While on one of my rare trips to Elyria a few weeks ago (looking for fall color and checking out the Rural King store) I came home on old Route 20. I hadn't driven by the old rainbow arch bridge in many years, and was curious to see how it was surviving.

Well, it's still there, but in rather sad shape – which is a shame. It's a real piece of roadside history. Here's its story (below), which appeared in the Chronicle-Telegram back in late January 1990. It was written by C-T Staff Writer Jeff Mohrman. The photo accompanying the article is by Gene Krebs.

Bridge to nowhere
Closed rainbow arch bridge on old Route 20 is historian's delight

C-T Staff Writer

CARLISLE TWP. – When the county inherits Oberlin-Elyria (old Route 20) from the state, it will inherit a bridge which due to safety reasons is never to be used again. But any attempt to tear it down might meet resistance from historians.

The 120-foot, two-lane rainbow arch, or "bow-string" bridge, is located between Russia and LaGrange roads. It was built in 1923, according to John Hamilton of the county engineer's office.

A new bridge has been constructed for traffic. The county is due to take over control of the road (from Parsons Road to the Elyria city limits) in late 1991, he said.

The concrete rainbow span is blocked off from the new section of road by a guard rail.

County engineer Ken Carney said, "When the new bridge was constructed, the Ohio Historical Preservation Society chose that it be put on the historical register.

The society wanted it left in its present state, he said.

The bridge is based on a French design. The first such bridge was built in 1904 in France and the first one in Ohio was in Cincinnati in 1910.

But Hamilton said that due to its deterioration, "it's also a liability, if someone gets hurt."

Said Carney, "it could be an attractive nuisance."

Want to find out more about rainbow arch bridges? Click here to see a variety of them from all over the United States on the website. The website even has a page devoted to the one on old Route 20.

I always liked this bridge, and remember driving over it. It's strange to see it bypassed and stranded off to one side. But, at least it hasn't been demolished.

1 comment:

Drew Penfield said...

I can't look at that bridge without imagining Model T's driving across it.