Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Vinton Iron Furnace Bridges

Photos: Heinz Raidel, 2008

These photos show a pair of Pratt pony trusses located over Elk Fork near the Vinton Iron Furnace historic site in Vinton County. The road and bridges are abandoned and deteriorated on land owned by Mead Timber, Inc. They are accessible by walking from the bypass road (TH-7).

The Vinton Furnace started production using the charcoal process to produce pig iron in 1854. The charcoal furnaces later switched to use coal in the original furnaces. In 1873 a “modern” plant consisting of 24 ovens was constructed on the site. It ceased operation in 1883 presumably as a result of high sulphur content of the local coal. Parts of the stack and foundations still exist but there is a lot of overgrowth that threatens these remains.

The bridges appear to be younger than the 1883 closing date of the Vinton Iron Furnace. Likely they were not abandoned because of closing of Vinton Furnace but as a result of a subsequent repositioning of Mead Road (also called Stone Quarry Rd and TH-7) to a more circuitous route to the east in order to avoid crossing Elk Fork. Examination of a road map shows the bridges are on the more direct route likely taken by the original road.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Precht Bridge

Photo: Anne Ellis 2007

The bridge is an abandoned Pratt pinned through truss bridge of the style built by the Massillon Bridge Co. about 1900. It is located in the Mary Jane Thurston State Park near Napoleon in Henry County and crosses North Turkeyfoot Creek on a dirt trail that goes to the nearby abandoned Showman-Edwards Cemetery.

There is a metal plaque attached to the bridge memorializing William H. Precht who died there in a 1931 tractor accident. This may have contributed to the belief that the site is haunted. Read more about that at Grave Addiction - a website documenting cemeteries.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Warren Deck Truss Simulation

This bridge is a computer model designed using free software called West Point Designer, which is available from the US Military Academy website.

The software lets you build a virtual bridge, calculate its cost and test its strength with a dynamic load. Get it wrong and the bridge collapses! You can submit your successful design to the USMA website to see how your bridge compares to the designs of others based on cost. It's a great way to learn how bridge truss configuration contributes to strength.