Lancaster – An article on the history of a more than 100-year old covered bridge located on the Ohio University Lancaster Campus, written by OUL Assistant Professor of History Mark Nevin, has been published in Fairfield Heritage Quarterly. The spring edition of the magazine, produced by the Fairfield Heritage Association, features the article, "A Bridge Through Time," and a picture of the John Bright #2 Covered Bridge on its cover.
Nevin's article tells the story of the man the bridge was named after, how and why the bridge was constructed and how the bridge came to be located on the Ohio University Lancaster Campus.
"I was surprised and pleased by how much information I could find on the bridge," said Nevin.
The bridge is listed with the U.S. Parks Department on it Registry of Historic Places and is a significant part of Fairfield County's history. Ohio and Fairfield County were leaders in covered bridges. More than 270 wooden bridges of all types were located in Fairfield County in the late 19th century.
"The most interesting aspect of the research was looking at county commissioners' records at the Ohio Historical Society archives in Columbus," said Nevin. "I was able to view microfilmed copies of the original hand-written notes from the 1880s, which detail the specifications, costs, and builder of the bridge."
The John Bright #2 bridge now spans Fetters Run. It was moved to the O.U. Lancaster Campus 25 years ago as part of a preservation effort. The bridge was built in 1881 by August Borneman. It originally spanned Poplar Creek near Carroll.
"Information about bridge building and repair is all over the records from that time, suggesting how important bridges were to county economic development in the late nineteenth century," said Nevin.
The John Bright #2 has some architectural features that are very unique. It has a reverse bowstring style truss, which is a very rare bridge design.
"It was interesting to learn that Ohio, and what's more Lancaster, was home to some of the most innovative bridge-builders at the time, including John Bright #2 builder August Borneman," said Nevin. "This is another reason why we should care about John Bright #2: it is a monument to the creative genius of Borneman who made Lancaster his home."
There are only about 20 covered bridges left standing in Fairfield County. The John Bright #2 was closed to pedestrian traffic this winter after it was damaged by fire in January. But, repair work has been completed and it is now open again to the public.