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Lorain’s Black River Bridges

Erie Avenue Bascule Bridge

On September 26, 1940, before a crowd of 50,000, two new bridges opened in Lorain, Ohio. The new Erie Avenue bascule bridge was opened in conjunction with the High-Level Bridge, a central component of a massive $7 million redevelopment of the city’s natural harbor.

The Erie Avenue span was the world’s longest bascule bridge at the time of its completion with a total length of 1,053 feet. Consisting of a Pratt deck truss with girder approaches, the double-leaf bascule opened upward with iron ore and concrete counter-balance weights that were moved by electric motors.

The High-Level Bridge, at 1,704 feet in length, featured a six-span, continuous cantilevered Warren through truss with a main span of 400 feet and side spans of 200 feet and 300 feet in length. The cantilevered method was chosen to construct the truss as it was going to be difficult to erect falsework because of the deep and wide navigation channel.

The Erie Avenue Bridge was rehabilitated in 1988 and the High-Level Bridge was renovated in 1989. Both were later renamed for World War II heroes.

In between the Erie Avenue and High-Level bridges is the Lorain Railroad Lift Bridge which was completed in 1974 as part of a $20 million harbor improvement program that had begun back in 1960. It replaced a circa 1904 swing bridge and offered a substantially wider navigation channel.

Further up the Black River adjacent to an idled steel mill is a pair of bridges that ferried the Lake Terminal Railroad to a connection with the New York, Chicago, & St. Louis Railroad (Nickel Plate) and the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railway. A Pratt through truss was constructed in 1903 and later supplemented with a Warren deck truss.

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