S Is For Bridge

May 1932 by Jacob Gayer for Nat Geo

Ever seen the likes of this before? Not me. Not around these parts. Maybe it’s a Northern thing. This S bridge in Hendrysburg, Ohio was built with “manholes,” or safety niches where a pedestrian could get out of the way of a runaway team of horses. While many S bridges were generally used for crossing curving streams with uneven banks, this one served a more unique purpose. Motorcars eventually made the bridges obsolete.

12 thoughts on “S Is For Bridge”

  1. I assumed it was going to be some traffic calming measure, forcing people to slow down. I never would have guessed that the purpose of those curves was for people to jump out of the way of horses. That was a really specific thought process the engineers went through.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right? It must have happened enough time for them to create bridges that way. I don’t hear a lot of history about runaway horse teams. You visited all the historic places, so they would have told you if that happened.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting tidbit from the “Ohio History Central” website:
    The reason for the unusual shape was to make construction easier for the workers. When the National Road crossed a creek or stream at an angle, the workers built the bridge’s supporting arches at a right angle to the stream. This process allowed water to flow through the arches more easily and also allowed workers easier access to build the bridges from each side of a creek or stream. Some people claim that the S-Bridges were designed to stop runaway horses, but there is no supporting evidence for this claim. A total of five S-Bridges existed along the National Road in Ohio.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is odd. That is not what the National Geographic article said. But it is over 80 years old and perhaps more information has been gathered since what was available to them at the time.

      Liked by 1 person

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