EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is another article on Findlay area history adapted from a series written from 1959 to 1974 by the late R.L. Heminger, publisher and editor of The Courier. This is the fourth of eight articles dealing with evidences of the past that still existed in the community in 1971.
In the old days, before engineering in bridge building had progressed very far, spans across waterways were built so as to cross the streams at right angles regardless of whether this changed travel directions.
One such was the original bridge across the Blanchard River just east of Findlay at the so-called “three-mile bridge” site.
The abutments of the old bridge still stand. They are to be found just east of the present bridge, on both sides of the stream. The bridge itself went down in the 1920s when struck by a motor vehicle. There was a loss of life in the accident. The present span was then constructed without changing the direction of the highway, crossing the river diagonally. The old bridge crossed at right angles, requiring users of the road to alter their direction at this point to get across the waterway.
THE FIRST BRIDGE at this location had historical significance. It was built at the same time that the first bridge was constructed across the Blanchard within the city of Findlay.
In March 1842, the Hancock County commissioners took action calling for the erection of two new bridges across the river, one on Findlay’s Main Street and the other on the New Haven (Carey) Road (Ohio 568 now). These were to be the first bridges ever built by the county and thus the first bridges to span the Blanchard.
The commissioners did not act, however, until they had “sounded out” public opinion. They instructed the assessors to take an informal vote of the people on the subject of building the two bridges and levying taxes for the projects. In those days, assessors were elected by the voters at the polls. There was an assessor for each township and one for each ward in the city. Their duties were to put property valuations on all real estate within their respective areas, keeping the valuations at the proper levels and adding any new properties that were built.
The assessors made the rounds of their areas once each spring. Under the instructions of the commissioners, they were to ask each voter, when they went around, how he felt about the matter of building the two bridges and paying the necessary taxes.
There is no official record as to the “vote” as tallied by the assessors, but it was favorable, for in March 1842, the county commissioners passed a resolution to open bids on the two bridge construction projects on April 1. This was done and contracts awarded.
The work on the Findlay bridge evidently did not proceed as the commissioners thought should be the case, and they ordered the county auditor to sue the contractor if the work was not finished shortly. Evidently matters cleared up, because no suit was filed.
The Findlay bridge was a wooden structure, known as a trestle bridge, the superstructure being supported by wooden trestles placed some 20 feet apart. There was no paint. Many bridges built in those days had a cover, but this one did not. Later on, a covered bridge was built across the river in Findlay.
The Dr. Jacob A. Kimmell history of Hancock County says the bridge east of Findlay was one finally known as the Marvin Bridge.
AN INTERESTING STORY is told with regard to the three-mile bridge. When the present structure was built in the 1920s, there were articles in papers hereabouts that a new “three-mile bridge was being constructed east of Findlay.” Some people in Michigan read about it and got the idea that a bridge three miles long was being built here. They drove here, only to discover what the real facts were, namely that the three miles referred only to the distance from Findlay.
It is interesting that now, more than 125 years after the first rural bridge across the Blanchard River was built, a companion bridge only a short distance away is being built across the waterway. This, of course, is the new bridge which forms a part of the new outer belt highway around Findlay’s eastern area.