The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Covered bridge series

May 3, 2009

Plymouth Township man recalls construction of Caine Road bridge


The first step in construction was to build a crib, upon which the bridge would be built.

“We built the floor, then the north wall and the south wall (on top of the floor),” Ellsworth said.

Cranes were brought in to raise the walls, starting with the south one. Ellsworth remembers the day well.

“That evening, my father (Austin) died,” Ellsworth said. “He had been there (at the construction site) that day and watched us raise the first wall.”

Ellsworth said the roof trusses were built off site.

“Probably over to Jefferson,” he said. “They were big, heavy things. John (Smolen) thought we were going to be able to push them around by hand, but we had to have a crane.”

The roof of the bridge was originally oak shingles cut by members of the Ashtabula County Antique Engine Club. Ellsworth spent several days treating the oak blocks with anti-freeze in an attempt to preserve the shingles that would be cut from the wood. But the shingles failed and had to be replaced with modern materials in the mid-1990s. The Covered Bridge Festival Committee donated $5,000 to the county engineer for the replacement project.

The bridge, which cost the county $150,000, was dedicated Oct. 12, 1986, at the Covered Bridge Festival.

Visitors to the bridge will notice a pond nearby. Ellsworth says the far wall of that pond marks the bank of the river’s former channel, which was rerouted under the bridge after the construction was completed.

As part of the project, the approach to the bridge was made much straighter, but he personally wishes the engineer had left just a little curve in it so the beauty of the bridge’s sides would be visible as motorists approach the portal.

Ellsworth says he did not leave any marks in the timbers identifying himself as one of the builders, but he knows which parts are his unique workmanship.

“I was the one who fitted all the sheathing on the west end,” he said. “But as far as making a personal mark on it, I didn’t.”

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