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Lofton Henderson Memorial Bridge

Henderson Bridge

The Lofton Henderson Memorial Bridge carries OH Route 611 over the Black River in Lorain, Ohio.

The High-Level Bridge was proposed in 1937 as a bypass to the notoriously congested Erie Avenue swing bridge. On August 2, 1938, the federal Public Works Administration approved a grant of $614,052 to help finance the bridge, 6 with the remainder of the funding gap being covered by a bond issue that voters approved overwhelmingly with a 70% margin. 8 The War Department, which had jurisdiction over the navigable waterway, approved plans for new bridges at Erie Avenue and 21st Street on August 5 5 over the objections of the Lake Carriers Association which wanted the proposals declared a menace to navigation. 7

Designed by Wilbur J. Watson & Associates of Cleveland and constructed by the American Bridge Company, the new High-Level Bridge was opened in conjunction with the new Erie Avenue bascule bridge on September 26, 1940. 1 Both were completed at the cost of $3 million, with the High-Level structure costing $1.7 million to complete, 2 and the dedication ceremonies were attended by 50,000 people. 1 The crossings were a central component to the $7 million development of the city’s natural harbor. 3

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.

On June 19, 1941, police were told that a “short, dark man” was photographing the new High-Level Bridge, along with the American Ship Building and Black River docks. 4 It turned out that the “spy” was C. C. Messmore, a Lorain commercial photographer who was on assignment taking pictures for postcards.

The High-Level Bridge was rehabilitated in 1989. In October 1991, it was named the Lofton Henderson Memorial Bridge after Lorain native Lofton Henderson who was killed at the Battle of Midway in 1942. 9 After being hit during a flight, Hendeson crashed his damaged plane into a Japanese carrier.


  • State: Ohio
  • Route: OH Route 611
  • Type: Warren Through Truss
  • Status: Active - Automobile
  • Total Length: 1,704 feet
  • Main Span Length: 390 feet
  • Deck Width: 42 feet
  • Above Vertical Clearance: 15.7 feet


  1. “Lorain Opens New Bridges.” Daily Times [New Philadelphia], 26 Sept. 1940, p. 2.
  2. “Lorain Bridge to Speed Traffic.” Logan Daily News, 10 Aug. 1940, p. 1.
  3. “Lorain Dedicates Two New Bridges.” News-Messenger [Fremont], 26 Sept, 1940, p. 2.
  4. “Spy Scare at Lorain is Without Foundation.” Washington C.H. Record-Herald, 19 Jun. 1941, p. 1.
  5. “Approves Bridges.” Salem News, 5 Aug. 1938, p. 2.
  6. “Grant Fund for Bridge in Lorain.” News-Messenger [Fremont], 2 Aug. 1938, p. 1.
  7. “Lorain Bridge Is Not Manace.” News-Messenger [Fremont], 3 Sept. 1937, p. 14.
  8. Gandee, Linda. “The bridges over Lorain’s Black River.”, 5 Jul. 2016.
  9. “Midway hero to be honored.” Newark Advocate, 18 Sept. 1991, p. 8.

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