The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Covered bridge series

March 21, 2009

Covered-bridge adventures along Rt. 322

Expensive diamond ring lost in crash at Wayne Township bridge

The sites of former covered bridges offer little in way tourism draw; however, the spot where the Wick bridge crossed Pymatuning Creek on Route 322 would be of interest to treasure hunters.

According to a 1930 newspaper article, a diamond ring valued at $700 was lost at this location, one of three along Route 322 where covered bridges stood a century ago.

The Wick bridge, number 35-04-34, stood between Hayes (Wick community) and Creek roads in Wayne Township. Three tributaries converge to form Pymatuning Creek just a few hundred yards south of this site, a low wetlands.

According to a Mrs. Don Dillon, who was interviewed for Alice Bliss’ 1960s series on the county’s covered bridges, crossings over Pymatuning Creek were in short supply in Wayne Township’s early years, thanks to this swampy obstacle.

One crossing, built in 1813, was on Underwood Road; the second was a ford a mile north of where the covered bridge would later stand. An early attempt to build a bridge at this spot met with only partial success — $14 was allocated from the county fund to build a structure of timbers and poles, but the approach from the west was not built until after the new bridge had rotted away.

It would appear, therefore, that the “bridge to nowhere” concept predated Alaska by more than a century.

Excavation from an old beaver dam eventually was used to cover logs buried in the muck and create a corduroy road on the west side. An open-truss bridge was built, the predecessor to the covered bridge.

Bliss dates the covered bridge to 1860 and its builder as a man named “Bentley.” The bridge cost $1,000. While the bridge was under construction, a temporary bridge, built by the residents, was used.

“The story is told that one Saturday afternoon Fred Hart’s father, Jerry Hart, then a boy of 15 or 16, started to Andover to get his father, David, who was doing some carpenter work there,” wrote Bliss. “Mr. Bentley refused to let him cross the temporary bridge, so Jerry had to turn his team around and go up the Hayes Road and go to Andover by the present Route 6. This disturbed David as he knew the preacher from West Williamsfield would have to use the bridge when he came to Wayne to preach on Sundays.

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