The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Covered bridge series

May 9, 2009

Forgotten crossings escaped documentation

Many of Ashtabula County’s covered bridges are well documented, making a list of 48 legacy bridges, including the 12 that have survived.

However, there is scattered throughout newspaper articles and advertisements for bids, the mention of bridges that have otherwise escaped documentation and the assignment of a number by the World Guide to Covered Bridges.

A local history on file in the Platt R. Spencer Special Collections and Archival Department makes note of a bridge on what was once Miller Road (now Rome-Rock Creek Road). The writer shares the story of a pregnant woman, Birney Evans, who was traveling through the bridge in a horse-drawn sleigh when the sleigh tipped over and she tumbled out. She and the child, born later that spring, were uninjured.

This same writer claimed knowledge of a covered bridge over Rock Creek on Sirrine Road “at the foot of Putnam hill, east of Sirrine’s farm.” Another undocumented bridge mentioned by this writer was on Laskey Road over the Grand River. The neglected bridge eventually fell in to the river and never was replaced. Although condemned for public use, loggers and farmers continued to use it because it greatly shortened the travel between Hartsgrove and Rome.

“Many times they unhitched at the edge of the bridge, drove the teams across and then, with long chains stretched back, hooked to the load and pulled that across. ... they did not dare put the full weight of teams and loads all on the bridge at the same time. Any use of it at all was their own risk.”

A photograph of the Gallagher Bridge, which had vertical siding, is in the Ashtabula County Historical Society’s files. The bridge spanned the Shenango River, long before the Pymatuning Reservoir was built. The bridge evidently linked Ohio and Pennsylvania at Simon, a community submerged under Pymatuning Lake.

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