The Zoarville Station Bridge is located over Conotton Creek in Zoarville Station, Ohio. It is the only known Fink through truss in the United States. The restored crossing carries the Zoar Valley Trail, the Ohio-to-Erie Trail, the Buckeye Trail and the North Country Scenic Trail. It also gives access to the Ohio-Erie Canal Corridor and the tow path trail.
The Zoarville Station Bridge, constructed in 1868-69 by the Smith, Labrobe & Company of Baltimore, Maryland over the Tuscarawas River on Factory Street in Canal Dover, was a three-span modified Fink through truss with Phoenix columns manufactured by the Phoenix Bridge Company of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. 1 4 It was one of three crossings in the vicinity.
The new iron bridge succeeded two wood bridges. 4 The first, a toll bridge built by the Dover Tuscarawas Bridge Company, opened on June 7, 1819. An ice jam destroyed it in 1827. It replacement was completed in 1833 at a cost of $4,000.
The crossing was vital to the region, as it was the only direct link between the county seat, New Philadelphia, and Canal Dover. 4 Canal Dover, located at the intersection of the Ohio and Erie Canal and four railroads: the Cleveland, Tuscarawas Valley & Wheeling, the Cleveland & Pittsburgh, the Cleveland & Pittsburgh Tuscarawas Branch, and the Marietta, Pittsburgh & Cleveland, was an early industrial and mining hotspot.
Increasing demands on the wooden bridge prompted the county to explore options on its replacement in the mid-1860’s. County commissioners were at first hesitant towards a new bridge across the Tuscarawas River but decided to accept bids for a new wood or iron crossing. 4 Robert Rue submitted the lowest bid for the stonework, with a contract signed on January 29, 1868. Bidding on the superstructure was delayed until mid-February when a contract was awarded to the Smith, Latrobe & Company. Another contract to build earthen approaches was let on June 16 to Jacob Wegley.
Work on the new abutments was completed by September 23. 4 Construction on the superstructure began shortly thereafter.
Testing of the new wrought iron Fink through truss was completed on May 21, 1869. 4 The old wood bridge and its stone piers were sold for a few hundred dollars on June 30.
By the 1900’s, the iron crossing across the Tuscarawas River was considered too narrow and congested to handle the growing demands of the region. The county accepted a bid for a new, wider concrete bridge by Edward J. Lander of Canton, Ohio 1 3 on January 18, 1905. 4 As part of the contract, Lander received the old iron bridge, which was dismantled after the new concrete crossing was completed.
Later in the year, the county rejected a bridge replacement proposal across One Leg Creek, now Conotton Creek, at Zoarville Station. It instead accepted a bid by Landor for a remodeled wrought iron bridge for $2,900. 4 Landor used one of the three spans of the original Canal Dover crossing to replace an existing wood crossing.
The remodeled iron truss remained in operation until the 1940’s when it was abandoned. Charles Lebold purchased the then-abandoned bridge for $50 in 1969. 1 4 The Camp Tuscazoar Foundation purchased the bridge from Lebold for $1 in 1996. 1
Work to restore the Zoarville Station Bridge began in mid-1998 when six tons of unoriginal steel and decking was removed, which was completed in August. 1 Grubbing and clearing around the bridge site and roadway was finished by C&L General Highway and Bridge of Dover in August 2000. The bridge was dismantled that August and September and stored in a warehouse.
New approaches were graded to the bridge site in 2001. 1 Work to rebuild the repaired and repainted bridge began in mid-2007. The reassembled span was lifted into place on new approaches on July 27. The restored Zoarville Station Bridge was reopened to pedestrian traffic following dedication ceremonies on September 15. 1
The American Council of Engineering Companies recognized the Zoarville Station Bridge restoration project with an Outstanding Achievement Award in February 2008. 2