7 votes

Toledo Terminal - Upper Maumee River Swing Bridge


Photo taken by Thomas Good

License: Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike (CC BY-SA)

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BH Photo #244840


Street Views 


Although this bridge was designed as a movable bridge, it is believed that a mechanism to operate the movable span was never installed, as navigation had all but ceased on this part of the river.

1974 research indicated the swing span was noted as being purchased as a surplus bridge section and was never intended to be used as a working swing bridge at this location. It had been built for another railroad and became available as surplus after the original plans were cancelled for its intended location.


Derided by some as a blight, but also eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, a trackless former railroad bridge next to the Ohio Turnpike’s Maumee River bridge is to be torn down next year.

The Wood County Port Authority, which acquired what was once the Toledo Terminal Railroad’s Upper River Bridge five years ago from CSX Transportation, says engineering studies have determined the rusting, 114-year-old hulk to be so unsound that it can’t be renovated for use as part of a bicycle and pedestrian trail along abandoned sections of that railroad.

“It appears that the costs, uncertainties, and future maintenance issues with rehabilitating the existing structure make it the least desirable alternative,” Claude Brown & Associates, a Toledo-based engineering consultant, wrote in a March, 2012, report to the port authority.


Pratt through truss bridge over Maumee River on Toledo Terminal RR (abandoned)
Maumee, Lucas County, Ohio, and Wood County, Ohio
Closed to all traffic
Future prospects
Slated for demolition 2017: http://www.toledoblade.com/local/2016/06/20/114-year-old-for...

Mr. O'Reilly said his goal for the existing structure is to document it thoroughly and preserve its center swing spans, which an ODOT report declared were the only part of the bridge that qualifies for historic status.

ODOT's Office of Environmental Services reported in 2009 that the swing spans, but not the five spans on either side leading up to them, were Register-eligible “as a surviving example of an uncommon type of bridge technology.”

While designed to be able to open for tall-masted vessels, the ODOT report noted that no such openings are known to have occurred, and no evidence exists of any motors or controls on the structure. The parallel turnpike bridge's construction in the early 1950s rendered such capability moot.

But it's the swing spans, which are actually a single, double-cantilevered structure of the Pratt truss design, mounted on a pivot, and their associated pier and end rests that are the bridge's “only significant elements” justifying historic preservation, ODOT said.

The bridge-demolition proposal calls for the swing spans to be saved and made available for some sort of unspecified reuse. Even restoring the swing spans alone, and keeping them and the center pier as part of an otherwise new bridge, would cost nearly $6 million, which is more than double the price to salvage them and replace that portion of the bridge with a modern structure, according to a report prepared for ODOT last year by DGL Consulting Engineers of Maumee.

Built 1902, last used March 1982 when a derailment damaged the structure
- American Bridge Co. of New York
- Waddell & Hedrick of Kansas City, Missouri
- Toledo Terminal Railroad (TT)
Pratt through truss center swing
Length of largest span: 250.0 ft.
Total length: 1,450.0 ft.
Approximate latitude, longitude
+41.58091, -83.60621   (decimal degrees)
41°34'51" N, 83°36'22" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
17/282740/4606527 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Inventory number
BH 51949 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • July 18, 2018: Updated by Alexander D. Mitchell IV: Bridge description updated with more history
  • December 17, 2016: Updated by Luke: Added photos from Gary
  • October 17, 2016: New photos from Janis Ford
  • June 20, 2016: Updated by Alexander D. Mitchell IV: Demolition announced for 2017; draw span available for reuse
  • January 19, 2016: New Street View added by Douglas Butler
  • December 6, 2015: New Street View added by Douglas Butler
  • April 25, 2015: New photo from Rick McOmber
  • August 26, 2013: New photo from Douglas Butler
  • December 20, 2012: Photo imported by Luke Harden
  • April 4, 2012: Added by Frank Hicks



Toledo Terminal - Upper Maumee River Swing Bridge
Posted February 19, 2017, by Nathan Holth (nathan [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Swing spans are hard to classify and in my experience 99% do not follow the textbook appearance of any common truss configurations, and in addition they may not always display forces matching a particular truss (diagonals must be in compression with a Howe, and in tension with a Pratt). My understanding of swing spans (and explanation for atypical member arrangements) is the issue is reversal of forces in the truss... because when the span is closed (bearing on the ends with wedges in place) forces are arranged in one fashion, and when the bridge is swung open, the ends must cantilever from the tower/pier.

Toledo Terminal - Upper Maumee River Swing Bridge
Posted February 19, 2017, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

That smaller X braced center panel over the center pier (and above the swing mechanism) certainly has a Howe look to it CV.

Toledo Terminal - Upper Maumee River Swing Bridge
Posted February 18, 2017, by Clark Vance (cvance [at] dogmail [dot] com)

Anyone else see a Howe truss on the swing span?

Toledo Terminal - Upper Maumee River Swing Bridge
Posted February 15, 2017, by Ed Pohlman (elpmlp [at] aol [dot] com)

Nice Photos. Believe it or not as a child I lived right next to that bridge (Toledo side). I saw the train the day it derailed in early 1982. Spilled corn all over the place that reeked for weeks.

I also walked that bridge a couple times and when the river froze over walked under that massive center span looking up. Many years ago.

I saw on the upper tressel (sic?) a plate that said "1902" on it.

Across the street (River Rd. Toledo) between the turnpike and the tracks back in the forest was the remains of a foundation for a small station that probably was a stopover for train engineers. When that RR bridge was constructed that area was nearly all wilderness. The first homes did not appear until the 1920s.

Sorry to hear the bridge will be demolished this year. Happy to hear that Metroparks Toledo will be converting some of the land where the tracks ran into a trail for walkers and cyclists.

Toledo Terminal - Upper Maumee River Swing Bridge
Posted December 21, 2016, by Dylan VanAntwerp (dylan_vanantwerp [at] live [dot] com)

I agree with the others. These are beautiful pictures of a large and impressive structure. Nice job Gary!

Toledo Terminal - Upper Maumee River Swing Bridge
Posted December 19, 2016, by Nathan Holth (nathan [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Gary, wow having visited this bridge twice myself, those are EXCELLENT photos... Its a hard bridge to photo from the Maumee side... looks like you were on the Perrysburg side? Did you have any trouble accessing the bridge from that side? I've never tried it from that side.

Toledo Terminal - Upper Maumee River Swing Bridge
Posted December 17, 2016, by Luke

Very nice photos, Gary!

Toledo Terminal - Upper Maumee River Swing Bridge
Posted December 17, 2016, by Gary (engineer9 [at] aol [dot] com)

Recent (October 2016) pix of the Toledo Terminal Upper Railroad Bridge...

Toledo Terminal - Upper Maumee River Swing Bridge
Posted June 20, 2016, by Nathan Holth (nathan [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

While this bridge may be eventually doomed, it is premature for this Newspaper and/or any officials to make the statements they have in this article. This bridge is under Section 106 and Section 106 has NOT been completed yet. http://www.toledoblade.com/local/2016/06/20/114-year-old-for...