The first Sunday in April was spent touring covered bridges, and a few other sites in Fairfield County.
The first bridge we found was the Hartman Bridge in the Lockville Canal Park. The bridge is a queenpost truss-style bridge that now spans the prism between Locks 11 and 12, having been moved from its original location over Pleasant Run on Wheeling Road in 1967.
The park consists of three locks that were once a part of the central section of the Ohio and Erie Canal, a 308-mile highway of water that connected Lake Erie at Cleveland to the Ohio River at Portsmouth.
The locks at the park include Locks 11, 12 and 13 that are open to the public, while locks 14 through 17 remain on private property. These seven locks, situated within the village of Lockville, comprise one of the longest series of intact locks yet remaining in the state.
After this we passed Rock Mill Bridge. Built in 1901, the Rock Mill Covered Bridge stands on its original abutments over a striking gorge just before the falls of the Hocking River. Spanning 37 feet and featuring a queenpost truss, the Rock Mill Bridge was one of the last bridge in Fairfield County to carry vehicular traffic. The bridge’s position next to the 1824-built Rock Mill grist mill makes it one of the more iconic locations in Fairfield County.
As we continued we passed an old family cemetery in the surrounded by a circular stone wall of massive stones. It is called the President’s Half Acre, as the founder of the cemetery deeded the property to the President of the United States forever, in hopes that they would take an interest and would care for it. Needless to say, none has. Supposedly the Ohio Historical Society cared for it for many years, but it was a very non-descript place, with locked gates.
Further south in the county we passed the Hanaway Bridge, built in 1881. This bridge still spans Clear Creek in its original location, sitting on its original sandstone abutments. The 85-foot long historic bridge is unique among Fairfield County’s remaining covered bridges because it has a canopy on only one side. Since the Hanaway Covered Bridge was constructed on a curve, this single canopy allowed those entering the bridge to watch for traffic approaching from the other direction and safely exit the bridge.
The nearby Johnson Bridge is the county’s longest covered bridge still resting on its original abutments. At 99 feet long, this historic structure features Howe trusses with two full-length canopies on both sides of the bridge, making the trusses easily visible from the outside.
The last bridge visited in southern Fairfield County was the the Mink Hollow Covered Bridge in Arney Run Park. This bridge rests on its original sandstone abutments over Arney Run, a tributary of Clear Creek. Built in 1887 at a span of 51 feet and features a multiple kingpost truss with a central X-brace and canopies on both sides. The Mink Hollow Covered Bridge actually lies in Oil Mill Hollow, a name that came from a nearby mill that pressed oil from flaxseed. This geographic landmark, as well as the name of Borcher’s Mill, a local grist mill, led to the bridge’s official name, which is the longest name of any covered bridge in the United States: The Mink Hollow Covered Bridge in Oil Mill Hollow Over Arney Run Near Borcher’s Mill.
Our last stop in the southern part of the county was Cross Mound, Cross Mound Park gets its name from the unique ancient earthwork structure situated in the shape of a plus-sign, or cross, composed of four identical arms each about 12 feet wide, three feet high and 45 feet long. The cross sits at the top of a moderate incline just west of Salt Creek, a tributary of the Scioto River.In addition to the cross-shaped earthwork, the park contains a small stone mound and several smaller mounds, possibly of the Hopewell period.
Cross Mound Park also features the Salt Creek Pedestrian Bridge, a picturesque suspension bridge spanning the creek of the same name. The bridge was constructed in 1936 through the Works Progress Administration
Despite extensive hiking up and down the hills we never really got a clear view of the mounds, although it was obviously where some were.
After some serious wandering through little country roads that felt as though we were driving onto the set of Deliverance, and past a correction facility, we arrived at the the Flight of the Hawk Park, south of Lancaster along US Route 33. Throughout this park are life-size metal sculptures of Ohio’s native wildlife. Among the sculptures are a turkey vulture, wild turkeys, white-tailed deer and the expansive 2,500-pound red-tailed hawk perched on its nest 42 feet above the ground. The hawk features a 14-foot wingspan and is composed of 3,000 torch-cut pieces that were carefully shaped and welded into place
By this time it was lunchtime, so we went into Lancaster to the Cherry Street Grill. I always remember this place as a small little dive bar, but the current owners have made it into a nice little restaurant and pub.