Tuesday, March 13, 2001

Historic Warren bridge now just rubble

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        OREGONIA — The oldest bridge in Warren County is but a memory and a heap of twisted steel.

        The one-lane bridge over the Little Miami River, closed to vehicles since 1990, collapsed early Monday, the county engineer's office said.

        The Old Oregonia Truss Bridge was closed to foot traffic three weeks ago after a county inspector noticed a crack in one of the stone abutments had worsened.

        The county had hoped to restore the 118-year-old bridge for its historic value, Assistant county engineer Kurt Weber said Monday. It was thought to be the only Berlin Lenticular Truss bridge still standing in Ohio and one of just four left in the nation.

        “It was a pretty significant bridge from that standpoint — a rarity,” Mr. Weber said. “It's amazing that it lasted over a hundred years. It was a good design.”

        Richard Miller, an associate professor of engineering at the University of Cincinnati, agreed the bridge's staying power was impressive.

        “Fifty to 70 years is considered pretty good, especially in Ohio, where we throw salt on everything,” Mr. Miller said.

        The Berlin (Conn.) Iron Bridge Co. built the bridge of steel in 1883, after the industry made the switch from cast iron. Steel is less brittle than iron, Mr. Miller said, so steel bridges are more durable.

        The bridge design was called a Lenticular Truss because the trusses were in the shape of an eye, or a football, with the ends meeting at each abutment.

        The bridge crossed the Little Miami in the tiny community of Oregonia, about 5 miles east of Lebanon. With the opening of a new bridge 500 feet upstream in 1994, the Old Oregonia fell idle. In recent years it was a dive board, nearby resident Jim Masters said.

        “A lot of teen-agers would gather there on a warm day and have a lot of fun jumping into the river,” Mr. Masters said.

        The engineer's office will move quickly to remove the bridge, Mr. Weber said, so canoeists can use that section of river.


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