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Appalachian Railroad Crossing

Photos 

Screenshot of May 2009 Streetview

I added these screenshots because I don't know how long Google will keep old Streetviews, and I don't like bridges with no photos.

Google Maps Street View

BH Photo #433351

Map 

Description 

Simple steel crossing bridge for the former Nofolk & Western Railroad, was demolished in early spring of 2012 to make room for a road project in 2017.

History of the line & Bridge 

Written by Daniel Hopkins

This simple bridge was once painted a brilliant blue which with time had faded to a sea-foam green coloring. This was all that remains of the Hillsboro Branch which once connected the town to the Nofolk & Western line that connected Cincinnati to Portsmouth and Columbus. The rail was a direct line from the town of Hillsboro to Sardinia and it's twin junction points that lead to the east towards Portsmouth or the west towards Cincinnati and was a preferred route once CSX had bought up other lines in the 1970's.

This bridge was erected somewhere between 1930 and 1940, but no records can be found to when it was officially built, originally it was used to cross a small gully between the natural hills in the area. In the start of it's life it was merely a 50 feet long simple wooden trestle with no special support but in the mid-1950's the major highway later known as Route 32 / James A Rhodes Highway / The Appalachia Highway was beginning it's construction and the bridge was facing problems as it was, so the rail-company ordered it to be replaced so the wooden trestle was transformed into it's steel structure form as the earth underneath was widened to make room for the highway's larger lanes. The builders had accounted for future progress so they had extended the width enough for the future remolding of a double-lane highway (which replaced the 1 lane through-way in 1960) so that the bridge would not have to be rebuilt or reinforced in the future.

In it's heyday (late 1950's early 1980's) at least 4 freight trains would transverse this spot a day. During the late 1960's and early 1970's the traffic through here became negligible at best, the line was turned into a limited-traffic detail and by 1975 only 1 or 2 smaller freight trains would be seen running through here.

Eventually Norfolk & Western merged with Southern Railway to become Norfolk Southern Railway in 1982 (but was not reamed until 1997) the limited traffic line was down to 1 freighter every two days, if that, as most of the shipments were re-routed from Washington Courthouse to Waverly towards Portsmouth via a more direct route that had been purchased from CSX when they disowned a few of their lines. Some trains were also routed south to Midland and across to Cincinnati via a route that had been leased from CSX before being abandoned all together.

During the late 1980's the bridge was seeing close to a thousand vehicles underneath in the span of a month which caused black spots to appear from over land big-rigs and hundreds of gas guzzling cars. It was rebuilt during the early 1980's to account for this and to re-support the failing structure of the original bridge. When this occurred the rail traffic was down to between 1 to 2 trains every ten to fifteen days at a time.

The limit-run line became too costly for Norfolk & Southern to maintain use of the bridge, the company decided it's material could be recycled for repairs of other tracks and to extend more profitable lines towards Cincinnati and Dayton. The decree was sent out but the line ran trains for just a few more years, each year less frequently or smaller freights made their way down from Hillsboro and across the bridge into Sardinia to make their way towards Portsmouth or Cincinnati. The line had it's tracks in such disrepair and the actual traffic down the line was nearly nothing that the bridge was seen as a silent overhead crossing with no purpose.

Finally enough money was gathered that during the early spring of 1991 to late winter 1996 the tracks were pulled up leaving the ground scarred and the memory to fade. The bridge, however, was left standing due to the fact that with the highway being the life line to all lower parts of Ohio at the time, the county would not shut down the road for any length of time to allow for a demolition or deconstruction. It also turned out the bridge was left because the railroad did not own it anymore. The property it was on was currently owned by Sardinia's township at that time and the leaders of the community didn't feel it was necessary or worth their money to rip the bridge down.

This all changed during autumn of 2010 when the Brown County Road Commission voted to remove the bridge for a planned road project that was scheduled for 2017. They raised the money over the next year in order to hire a demolition crew. The next spring of 2012 a demolition team was sent to the site and traffic was routed around that portion of the highway where the bridge was destroyed in less than two days with nary a scrap of concrete or steel left over to show there was ever anything in that spot.

The bridge once stood as a testimony of a by-gone era where freight transit was high and when things were less about money and more about growth. Now the empty spot stands blank with no traces left to prove there was ever anything there to begin with.

Facts 

Overview
Abandoned bridge over James A. Rhodes Appalachian Highway
Location
Sardina, Brown County, Ohio
Status
Formally abandoned, now demolished
History
Built ca. 1955, Replaced 1982, abandoned 1995, demolished 2012
Railroad
- Norfolk & Western Railway (N&W)
Design
Pony plate girder
Dimensions
Total length: 240.0 ft.
Deck width: 50.0 ft.
Also called
Appalachian Gate
Approximate latitude, longitude
+39.01268, -83.79689   (decimal degrees)
39°00'46" N, 83°47'49" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
17/257835/4321905 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Sardinia
Inventory number
BH 47370 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Categories 

Brown County, Ohio (32)
Built 1982 (61)
Built during 1980s (608)
Demolished (8)
Girder (8,835)
Have street view (24,552)
Lost (20,718)
Lost 2012 (317)
Lost during 2010s (2,423)
Modern (2,004)
Norfolk & Western Railway (315)
Ohio (3,009)
Owned by county (19,448)
Plate girder (6,732)
Railroad (14,138)
Sardina, Ohio (1)
Through girder (3,290)
Total length 175-250 feet (3,958)

Update Log 

  • August 19, 2018: New photos from Timothy and Joann Phillips
  • January 1, 2014: Updated by Daniel Hopkins: Bridge was demolished in spring of 2012, updated status
  • December 28, 2010: Updated by Daniel Hopkins: Added original construction year
  • December 26, 2010: New Street View added by Daniel Hopkins
  • December 23, 2010: Updated by Daniel Hopkins: Added street view

Sources 

  • Daniel Hopkins - chimera [at] clovermail [dot] net
  • Timothy and Joann Phillips

Comments 

Appalachian Railroad Crossing
Posted January 1, 2014, by Luke Harden (lukemh9 [at] gmail [dot] com)

According to the NBI, the bridge in streetview was built in 1982: http://uglybridges.com/1396979/

Appalachian Crossing - The Rail Fans Amongst Us
Posted July 18, 2011, by Daniel Hopkins (chimera [at] clovermail [dot] net)

Some tid-bits about this route for Rail-Fans on the site:

The line can be traced by Google Maps Sat/Aerial view by following these cords or if you feel adventurous and feel like making a LONG hike along it - [Sardinia Branch Off] 39.005829,-83.804591, [The Bridge] 39.012736,-83.796856, [Old Creek Crossing] 39.01517,-83.794522, [Some of the old Rail Bed is here] 39.017929,-83.789046, [Site of Original Signal & Siding] 39.026244,-83.776826, [Old Crossing on 321] 39.042195,-83.758072, [Site of the Switch-Track that once routed the trains around to Sinking Springs] 39.077392,-83.749569, [The RR use to cross the road here prior to it becoming County Highway 20] 39.107861,-83.727864, [Currently a field obscures the right of way] 39.135511,-83.699417, [Original Rail Bed w/ Ballast still visible here] 39.144565,-83.692931, [The ROW turns to the east here] 39.171644,-83.683432, [And back to the north here] 39.180568,-83.655269, [Tracks once converged here from an extension branch, but not sure from where/to] 39.190556,-83.647049, [Small S-curve here] 39.196675,-83.64158, [Obscured view here but it cured towards town, parallel to the road] 39.204796,-83.636653, [Then curved into Hillsboro to the east] 39.208664,-83.625015, [The branch line ran until this point, now a set of torn down factories, once a loading depot] 39.203011,-83.61556, [It would have terminated here at the old Rail Yard, now identified by the name Railroad Street] 39.206012,-83.615336, [Another branch once split off from here and followed along past what is now McDowell Street, crossed the alley that now exists, and followed Catherine Street at an angle] 39.207309,-83.611838, [and left Hillsboro to join the Washington Courthouse branch here] 39.2076,-83.606785 .