A Record-Setting Bridge is Opened in Ohio

October 11, 1910

In Ohio’s Cuyahoga County, a recently completed bridge was dedicated in the Cleveland region. The new structure, carrying Detroit Road over the Rocky River, was the fifth bridge built at that location to connect the cities of Rocky River and Lakewood.

Construction on this version of the Detroit Rocky River Bridge began in 1908 in response to the need for a more modern structure that could adequately accommodate streetcars traveling through the area. The new bridge was designed by civil engineer Alfred Felgate. Wilbur Watson served as consulting engineer for this project. Their joint efforts resulted in an arched bridge that was an early example of the two-ribbed, open-spandrel type.

The fifth incarnation of the Detroit Rocky River Bridge also had at least one other claim to fame, namely the fact that its central concrete span of 208 feet (63.3 meters) was not reinforced with steel. This set a new record at the time of the bridge’s completion for the longest section of unreinforced concrete in the world.

The dedication of the bridge was characterized by a great deal of fanfare, not just due to the structure’s record-setting status but also because the event happened to take place during the centennial year for Cuyahoga County. The dedication featured the performance of band music and also a parade of hundreds of automobiles.

A state senator named Thomas P. Schmidt proclaimed to those in attendance that the new bridge was “typical of the inventive genius of the age.” Another speaker at the ceremony maintained that the structure “demonstrated that no longer did American engineers have to go to Europe for ideas on bridge construction.” The bridge remained in service until the early 1980s, when it was replaced by a new structure built nearby and then demolished by dynamite.

Additional information on the version of the Detroit Rocky River Bridge that made its debut in 1910 is available at https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/231

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