Snow is on the ground as I write this and my next road trip is months away. To slake my road-trip thirst during these cold months, I’ve slowly been writing a full trip report of last spring’s tour of Ohio’s National Road. (You can see my other long-form trip reports here). In the process, I’ve found photos from a few great places that I overlooked when I blogged about the trip last summer. Two of those sites are well-preserved S bridges, a few miles apart from each other on either side of the Guernsey and Muskingum county line in eastern Ohio.
These bridges were built in S shapes because it allowed the bridges to cross their respective creeks at right angles, which made them less expensive to build and maintain. In those days, traffic moved along the road at essentially a walk. But traffic speed increased considerably in the automobile age, and cars had to slow way down to negotiate these bridges. They were both bypassed by the early 1930s in the interest of speed and safety.
The first of these bridges stands almost exactly between Cambridge and New Concord and is known as the Cassell S Bridge. You can see its lithe S shape on the left in the aerial image below. I would not be surprised to find that Township Highway 4174, in the upper right, is part of the road’s original alignment leading up to the bridge.
Here’s the bridge on the ground. It is original to the road, built in about 1828 when the National Road was extended through Ohio. It was restored in 2006.
The brick deck was probably originally laid in the 1910s.
Someone needs to come out here with some Roundup and a weed whacker.
The Fox Creek S Bridge, which stands on the west end of New Concord, was also built in about 1828. It’s easy to miss. I was looking for it, and I only caught it out of the corner of my eye as I sped past. I had to turn around and come back to it.
Isn’t it a beauty? I think I like this one a little bit more than the Cassell bridge.
This photo from the Historic American Engineering Record shows the bridge in the early 1930s. Notice how US 40 already bypasses it on the left.
Here’s the deck. A short segment of the brick road extends west beyond the bridge, and you can drive on it to access a small parking area.
This bridge’s restoration added a narrow path that lets you get close and even walk under the bridge.
It’s not very often you can get personal with the underside of an old bridge!
This milestone, probably a reproduction, stands nearby.
I’ve driven the National Road from its beginning in Baltimore, MD to its end in Vandaila, IL. To read everything I’ve ever written about it, click here.
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Last updated on 14 March 2020 by Jim Grey