WINGETT RUN-Only nine covered bridges remain in Washington County, a reminder of the bygone days when horse-and-buggies were the only way to travel.
The Rinard Covered Bridge, located about 22 miles outside of Marietta, is one covered bridge that remains standing at the Junction of Ohio 26 and Tice Run Road, in Ludlow Township.
The bridge joined the National Registry of Historic Places on Oct. 8, 1976.
AMANDA NICHOLSON The Marietta Times
The Rinard Covered Bridge was built in 1876 to replace a bridge that had washed out during the summer of 1875. The bridge joined the National Registry of Historic Places on Oct. 8, 1976.
Times file photo
The Rinard Covered Bridge washed out in the September 2004 flood.
County Engineer Roger Wright said covered bridges are great for the area.
"Covered bridges are wonderful for tourism, but they are difficult to maintain," he said, adding that the wood is what makes the maintenance difficult.
In spite of that, Wright said the county is maintaining the bridges to the best of its ability.
About the Rinard Covered Bridge
Location: Junction of Ohio 26 and Washington County 406, Ludlow Township.
Size: 128 feet.
Joined the National Registry of Historic Places on Oct. 8, 1976.
The bridge was washed downriver in 1913 and 1938, but was still intact and able to be put back on its piers.
The bridge was closed to traffic around 1991.
Around 1993, work was done on the bridge and gaps were removed from between the wood.
The bridge washed out in 2004 and was severely damaged. It had to be rebuilt at a cost of about $570,000, and the gaps were put back into the design.
The new bridge was rededicated in 2006.
Washington County still maintains the bridge, even though it is closed to traffic.
"We inspect them, even if they're closed to traffic," he said, adding that the Rinard bridge is closed and is in decent condition, especially since its rebuild in 2006 after flood waters destroyed most of it in September 2004.
Tice Run Road resident Walter Rinard, 82, said when the bridge was renovated around 1993 changes made to it contributed to its 2004 demise: gaps between the wood planks were removed and made the bridge nearly solid.
"I told them 'You're just building a boat,'" he said. "(In 2004), water couldn't get through and the pressure just got so great (the river) just took it."
During reconstruction, the gaps were placed back in the bridge, so that if the river rises again, the water will be able to flow through the bridge.
Rinard said he is impressed with the finished bridge.
"The people who built it back did a fine job," he said, adding that the bridge looks "just almost identical" to the original except the runners for cars were not put back on.
Rinard said back when the structure was built, a bridge was needed for residents to cross the river.
David Simmons, president of the Ohio Historic Bridges Association (OHBA), said the 128-foot bridge replaced one that had been built around 1871 and washed out in 1875.
Since it was built in 1876, the Rinard Covered Bridge has had a rocky relationship with the Little Muskingum River, over which it rests.
When the 1913 flood came through, devastating the area, the Rinard bridge was washed downstream from its piers, but remained intact and was able to be put back on its foundation.
When flood waters surged in 1938, again the bridge washed off of its piers, and was still sturdy enough to be repositioned on them.
Rinard said that also in 1938, the approach span, or entry to the bridge, was removed and though many couldn't use the bridge, his father still did in order to get home.
"My dad would park the car (at the foot of the bridge) and he had a ladder he'd climb," he said.
Simmons said the approach spans are something that make bridges along the Little Muskingum so unique.
"It was required that you had short approach spans on either end," he said. "This is the only place in Ohio you find those."
Simmons bridges remaining intact after a flood was not unusual for the times.
"A bridge is wood; if it's lifted off of its abutments, it floats," he said.
Simmons said many bridges around the area were later tied down to prevent them from floating away when the water got too high.
"Some county bridges are actually tied down with iron rods," he added.
Jean Yost, OHBA member and local historian, said all the covered bridges around the county appear to be in really decent shape.
"We went around on a bridge tour last year, and I think they're pretty excellent," he said. "They're all, from what I saw, in incredible shape.