Disaster upon disaster upon disaster—this accurately sums up the troubled life of the Fassett Street Bridge. Structural collapses, ship collisions, bad weather, ice, and fire—all plagued it during its 65-year life span.
Some of the highlights/lowlights from this bridge’s adventuresome story:
-- The bridge’s troubles began almost literally from day one. Upon its completion in 1896, the city of Toledo wound up being unable to pay the last $8,000 of its bill. Miffed at getting ripped off, the contractor removed a part from the bridge’s swing span so it couldn’t swing (1975 issue of the Toledo Blade).
-- Toledo residents were leery of the long, fragile-looking bridge right from the beginning. The city fire department had to stage the Fassett Speed Test, in which a horse-drawn fire wagon raced over the bridge as fast as possible, to reassure the nervous public that the span was safe.
-- Ice floes took out the swing span in 1906.
-- The bridge had to be repaired again in 1928 and 1933.
-- A strong windstorm knocked down three deck truss spans on September 30, 1935. The bridge stayed closed for three years until three more heavily built spans were installed in 1938, with funds partially provided by the Works Progress Administration.
-- The weight limit was demoted to 5 tons in 1940.
-- In 1945, engineers recommended that the bridge be closed for good—Toledo ignored this advice.
-- A Great Lakes freighter hit the bridge in 1946, forcing it to shut down for two months.
-- More repairs were undertaken in 1951.
-- The Canadian freighter "Forestdale" hit the bridge on April 17, 1954, knocking the swing span out of alignment.
-- The freighter Champlain destroyed three spans of the bridge in a collision during a blinding thunderstorm on April 5, 1957, leading to its permanent closure.
-- During its demolition in 1961, a span tilted and dumped a construction truck into the Maumee River.
-- And finally, the west end of the bridge was ravaged by fire in August 1961.