“We hope to be able to raise enough money to where we can bring in a civil engineer who will evaluate the bridge and tell us what needs to be done and how much it’s going to cost,” said Bill Tipton of the Scenic Scioto Heritage Trail. “Then we will be asking the community to help us there. And then we hope to get some grants.”
Former Otway Mayor Georgia Furr has seen the bridge host everything from picnics and weddings.
“It was built in 1874,” Furr said. “It went into the Historical Society in 1974. That’s when they saved the bridge. They were going to tear it down when they put the new road through. So Gladys Riley and Dema Penn and some other older people saved the bridge.”
Furr said the roof needs to be repaired and painted and the missing boards replaced, to begin with.
“We’re going to have to put a guardrail or something up to keep people from driving on it, because later on we’re going to have to work on it underneath. It’s twisting,” Furr said.
Furr said when she first started taking care of the bridge, Miriam Woods, who is over the historical bridges in Ohio, came to see the bridge.
“She said it was the best one in Ohio,” Furr said. “She has been down again a couple of months ago, and they are kind of worried about it. So I told her we were going to get it repaired.”
Plans are already in place to begin work on restoring the structure.
“The Scenic Scioto Heritage Trail is going to do the immediate repairs that need to be done, and that’s the roof,” Tipton said. “The roof needs to be cleaned, repaired and then repainted. Then we’ve got to get the siding replaced, because the main thing with a wooden structure is keep the water out.”
For 10 years Friends of Scioto Brush Creek has sponsored a field trip by fifth-grade students at Northwest in the spring to educate them on the creek and landmarks, such as the covered bridge.
“They have in-classroom instruction prior to the day of the field trip,” said Thelma Shirey, an employee of the Northwest School District and member of Friends of Scioto Brush Creek.
Shirey said members of the preservation group take pride in the bridge and Scioto Brush Creek.
“Scioto Brush Creek is one of the most pristine streams in the state of Ohio,” Thelma Shirey said. “That’s partly because there is not a lot of industry. The biggest pollutants are actually logging and livestock. The main purpose of Friends of Scioto Brush Creek is to tell the young people how important it is to keep our stream clean. But they utilize the covered bridge here. They have for the past 10 years.”
Tipton said one of the ways of raising money is a new T-shirt with a photo of the bridge on it, and the wording — “I helped save the bridge — Otway covered bridge — 1874.”
It will be available at the Oct. 8 event, but may also be purchased through phone numbers listed on www.scenicsciotoheritagetrail.com.
FRANK LEWIS may be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232, or email@example.com.