The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

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Covered bridge series

May 16, 2009

Olin Bridge county’s only extant covered bridge with family name

Olin family members take special pride in bridge, honor ancestor with covered bridge museum

When Barrie Bottorf speaks of the Dewey Road covered bridge, it is always possessively, even though it is a county bridge.

“It’s our bridge,” says Bottorf, who lives along the river downstream from the Plymouth Township bridge.

“It’s an extension of our private property,” adds his niece Julie Grandbouche, who owns property on the east side.

“My entire life, that bridge was there and part of us,” says Bottorf.

The bridge, built from 1873 to 1875, figured into the childhood of many a Plymouth and Kingsville township resident, as under it was one of the best swimming pools to be found along the Ashtabula River.

“In the old days, when I was kid, everybody swam under the bridge,” Bottorf says. “It was basically the community swimming hole. Upriver was another hole, where the boys swam — skinny dipping.”

The swimming hole was courtesy of a dam that has since disappeared. The deep hole underneath the bridge has filled in, as well.

“It was much better swimming, much deeper years ago,” Bottorf says.

“I have jumped off the roof of the bridge, and we used to dive off the bridge through these holes in the bridge where the siding fell off,” he recalls.

Because of the swimming hole, the bridge has been dubbed the “Patron Bridge of Little Boys.” It was also known as the “Second Covered Bridge.”

Family pride

The bridge’s best-known name is simply Olin Bridge, referring to the family that has owned property in this area for more than 150 years. Bottorf’s familial connections to this land go back to at least 1850, when his grandfather Almon Olin was born in a log cabin on the west bank of the river. His offspring have found it difficult to stray far from this scenic section of the Ashtabula River.

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