For Sciotoville residents, the train bridge is a landmark that stands as a testament to 100 years of history. The bridge is such an iconic structure that it is even celebrated with a display and model at the Scioto County Welcome Center.
The Chesapeake and Ohio railroad bridge crosses over the Ohio River, spanning a total of 1,550 feet. At the time of its construction, the bridge was the largest continuous riveted truss bridge in the world. According to information provided by the Welcome Center, it took three years and 13,200 tons of fabricated steel to built.
Engineers did their part in building it efficiently for the period. Engineeer Gustav Lindenthal also designed the “Hells Gate” bridge that crosses the Hudson River from New York to New Jersey. Unlike other engineers of the time, Lindenthal designed all of his bridges differently. He was able to save 20 to 30 percent in materials on the Chesapeake and Ohio Bridge by using a design that allowed the bridge to be constructed in large portions without support. Engineer David Barnard Steinman, who also worked on the project, became a leader in the field for his method in stress analysis used in construction of the bridge. During his career, Steinman worked on nearly 400 bridges.
In addition to being a monster for its time, the bridge was also built with no fatalities. In a time when the profession was far more dangerous, it was uncommon for all workers to survive such a project.
After years of work, on July 31, 1917, the first coal train crossed the tracks of the bridge. The bridge, currently owned and operated by CSX, has remained open since.
The commemorative model, celebrating the bridge’s anniversary, was built in 2016. The steel O scale bridge is 11 inches wide, 32 inches high, 32 feet long, weighs 400 pounds and has over 15,000 pieces. Each piece is welded together. It took builder Harold Woods, Jr., a member of the West Michigan Railroad Historical Society, two years to complete.
The model can be viewed at the Scioto County Welcome Center, located at 342 Second Street in Portsmouth.
Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931.