June 17, 2024

Second Street Iron Lift Bridge



A May 3, 1877 article in the Delphos Herald states “The frequency of accidents occurring on the steep approach to the canal bridge on South Main Street (now Second Street) should lead the authorities to adopt some protection. Only last week, a wagon and pair of horses were precipitated down the embankment, the driver narrowly escaping severe injury.”  One has to love the way they said things.

Whether this was the catalyst for building an iron lift bridge some 20 years later is questionable.  More likely it was the appearance of the automobile or plans for the Interurban, an electric trolley car which ran from Lima to Fort Wayne, passing through Delphos on tracks that ran down the middle of Second Street and thus over the bridge.

The original structure and another on Third Street were built by the Massillon Bridge Company and stood for many years.  According to the May 31, 1930, Delphos Herald, local scrap dealer “Nathan Liff, of Delphos, was given the contract by Allen and Van Wert county commissioners for the wrecking of the overhead framework of the Second and Third street canal bridges. Workmen started at the Third Street bridge Thursday. Removing the counter-balance weights there is no small task. These are sheet-iron boxes filled with many tons of concrete. While the work is going rather slowly, they expect little difficulty at the Second Street bridge.”

The museum recently received a working model of the Second Street bridge, complete with counter-balance weights and a chain pulley to lift the bridge and allow canal boats to pass.  This model was made and donated by Bill Hemker who worked from several pictures of the structure. It makes a nice addition, allowing visitors, especially children, to see how lift bridges actually worked.

The Canal Museum is open every Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m. and every Thursday from nine to noon or by appointment.  Come see the bridge and how it worked.

Reprinted from the Delphos Herald, October 12, 2012


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  1. i love history and love to talk history but it seems no one around to talk enough about it i could spend hours on the subject

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