Reflections: When the bridge went down


By Evelyn Long - The Sentinel



I received a phone call last week from a man who had grown up in Cardington and now lives in another county.

He wanted to donate some old county newspapers to me, which I gladly accepted.

Among them, were two Morrow County papers detailing the demolishing of the East Main Street bridge on Dec. 2, 1948.

That was when a semi-truck accidentally struck it causing the 65-year-old, 99- foot single span bridge to totally collapse on the truck driven by R. E. Cross, 26, driver for Keeshin Motor Freight.

He was following Route 42 which crossed the bridge.

Kent Jones, who donated the papers, grew up in the first house just east of the bridge and saw many floods and accidents but none to match the one that day.

Kent, who was 12 years old, heard the crash about 6 a.m.

that morning and woke his parents. “I looked out the window and wondered how that piece of guard rail got strung across the road and here it was the top of the bridge.”

Jones said they had often talked about the bridge’s

possible collapse. The crash cut the gas and water lines to the village.

It was heard by Mr and Mrs Ray Sperry as they were eating breakfast in their home, just three doors west of the bridge. The Sperry’s owned the Soho Gas station at the east end of the bridge. Cross was uninjured and was not sure what happened although he was sure he had not struck it. He was just crawling over the edge of the bridge when the Sperrys approached.

The bridge was completed August 1, 1883. The east abutment was rebuilt in 1900. It was located on the third heaviest traveled federal highway in Ohio, carrying as many as 3,000 vehicles daily. Last official inspection

was made in 1945. A complaint had been filed by Cardington village council

regarding its condition on Aug. 17, 1948. Drop from the bridge floor to the surface of Whetstone Creek, which was dammed a few feet north, was approximately 15 feet. Depth of the creek under the bridge was nine feet.

Gas and water service were quickly restored. Helping to remove the wreckage of the truck was a wrecker from Myers and Strain Co., Mount Gilead and one of those workers was Cardington’s Dean Graham.

Jones said he remembers as a kid, being one of 11 or more boys jumping from the bridge to swim in the nine feet of water beneath. “I wouldn’t do that today,” he said with a chuckle. He also recalls as many as seven accidents in one day on that bridge.

Jones went to school one half day on the day of the collapse and his mother wrote a note asking him to be excused the other half but instead he received two weeks detention.

On a personal note I remember going with my classmates to the scene of the accident later that day.

Another aside- my father was timekeeper with the State Highway Department for 14 years working from the Marion office.

Although he was no longer with the department at the time of the collapse, the officials named in this story were those with whom he worked.

Pictures taken by Independent photographer, Hayes Ulery, were printed in several national publications.

The bridge was replaced by March, 1949. Going to school for Jones and others meant a detour, sometimes over the frozen creek but when the water was flowing, he had to detour through the cemetery and down through

town.

The story of the bridge collapse will be around for a long, long time. We are just thankful it did not take any lives.

August of 1926

The last covered bridge in Morrow County gave way when a Morrow County truck passed over it. The bridge was located in

Peru Township.

Augus of 1936

Cardington was making plans to celebrate its Centennial in October. The village was founded in 1836.

August of 1946

C. C. Buell of Fulton and D D.Buell of Cardington were preparing the building previously occupied by Cardington Machine Shop into a shop for the contracting of precision machine work under the name of Buell Tool & Engineering

August of 1956

Preparations continued for the Morrow County Fair. Lois Betts had been named Morrow County Junior Fair Queen.

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By Evelyn Long

The Sentinel

Reach us at mcsnews@civitasmedia.com

Reach us at mcsnews@civitasmedia.com