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North Coast Inland Trail - Sandusky River Bridge


LS&MS - Sandusky River Bridge

Photo from old postcard


BH Photo #469281


Warren deck truss bridge over Sandusky River on LS&MS RR
Fremont, Sandusky County, Ohio
Now part of North Coast Inland Trail
Built 1899
- Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad (LS&MS)
- New York Central Railroad (NYC)
- Penn Central Railroad (PC)
Two Warren deck truss spans with all verticals (Fishbelly configuration) and two deck plate girder spans
Also called
LS&MS - Sandusky River Bridge
NYC - Sandusky River Bridge
Conrail - Sandusky River Bridge
PC - Sandusky River Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+41.33971, -83.11156   (decimal degrees)
41°20'23" N, 83°06'42" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
17/323324/4578620 (zone/easting/northing)
Inventory number
BH 88800 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • July 18, 2022: Updated by Paul Plassman: Added category "Painted green"
  • February 27, 2022: Updated by Paul Plassman: Added photos & categories "Riveted", "8-panel truss", "Stone piers", "Fishbelly Deck Truss"
  • December 22, 2021: Updated by Paul Plassman: Added truss types and approach span designs
  • December 21, 2021: Updated by John Marvig: added build date
  • September 7, 2021: New photos from David Case
  • March 31, 2020: New photo from Geoff Hubbs



North Coast Inland Trail - Sandusky River Bridge
Posted December 22, 2021, by Paul Plassman

Interesting. I hadn't realized that riveted railroad trusses were built that early; most that I have seen date to the 1910's so I was a little surprised to see one with a pre-1900 date. From the railroad reports I was able to dig up a little info about the 1868 bridge here that was destroyed in 1883: https://bridgehunter.com/oh/sandusky/bh95541/. Nothing new on the history of the current bridge though.

I visited this bridge several years ago and I don't remember seeing any plaques either on the trusses or the girders; however, I didn't actually crawl around underneath it and I may have missed one. It wouldn't surprise me if the stone piers date from the previous bridge, however--maybe even from the 1868 span.

North Coast Inland Trail - Sandusky River Bridge
Posted December 21, 2021, by John Marvig (marvigj27 [at] gmail [dot] com)


Both types of spans appear to be typical for an 1899 bridge. The remaining riveted deck trusses lack the heavily laced members typically seen on railroad trusses. However, riveted spans were beginning to show up for railroad use around the turn of the century, mainly for shorter spans at the time. It seems pretty certain that the riveted spans were built in 1899.

This is an example of similar sized spans built around the same time: http://bridgehunter.com/mi/delta/cnw/

An example of an older "lattice girder":


The pinned spans appear to have been 80' long, rather short for a railroad truss. It is possible a disaster destroyed them, or that they were eventually replaced. I cannot find anything on these spans. Perhaps one day I can get to the replacement girders and look for plaques. It is also possible that those spans are older than the 1899 date.

North Coast Inland Trail - Sandusky River Bridge
Posted December 21, 2021, by Paul Plassman

Some thoughts and theories, which I admit are more educated speculation than factual:

The information on this Flickr photo--which appears to be a zoomed view of the postcard--mentions an older bridge here that was destroyed in 1883: https://www.flickr.com/photos/72988954@N00/12347968783

Is it possible that the parallel-chord deck truss visible in the postcard dated to 1883/1884 and was thus older than the fishbelly trusses? Alternatively, could the bridge have been built in 1899 completely as a parallel-chord truss, with two spans being later replaced with the fishbellies that exist today and the other two being supplanted with girders later? As you said, 1899 seems extremely early for riveted trusses, and the date you narrowed down for the postcard makes the 1913 flood a likely culprit for one or more of these changes.

North Coast Inland Trail - Sandusky River Bridge
Posted December 21, 2021, by John Marvig (marvigj27 [at] gmail [dot] com)


I am wondering the same thing. The remaining trusses are fairly heavily built, while the other span was pin connected. Perhaps it was replaced at a later date?

The postcard lists this as a LS&MS bridge. The bridge in the background (Wheeling & Lake Erie) was reportedly built 1911/12. LS&MS was merged to form NYC in 1914. I assume the postcard may be from between those dates. The deck girders may very well be 1920s or 1930s spans. The fishbelly spans are unique, and also likely very old. At approximately 105' long, these spans were likely among the earliest riveted railroad trusses.

North Coast Inland Trail - Sandusky River Bridge
Posted December 21, 2021, by Paul Plassman

Wonder if this was originally a four-span deck truss and two of the spans had to be replaced with girders because of flooding or some other disaster.

Those "fishbelly"-style trusses are rather unique.