Sunday, July 15, 2012

Swartz Bridge Loop

I like to think of my bike as a time machine. Not in the literal sense but because I like to ride my bike to visit historic sites around Ohio it often feels as if it is transporting me back in time.  Saturday morning I chose a loop again towards the west to visit a very old and interesting structure.

Once past a small set of rolling hills things flatten out to the west.  There is not a lot to see out here mainly just agriculture -corn, soybeans, wheat and repeat.  Pedaling across these vast glacial plains it seems like I'm hardly moving as nothing goes by very fast except the road under my wheels.

A great feature of the recumbent seat besides the fact that it's a comfortable chair for all day riding is that the seat back is a good place to hang gear.  I have two seat back bags, a large and a small.  These bags are perfect for day tours.  They do not require a rack for mounting and easily carrying all the gear I may need.  The bag in the photograph above is the small size and it sees the most use on my bike.  Inside I keep two spare tubes, a 26" and a 20", a mini pump, tools, an extra bottle of energy drink and a bag of snacks.  In cooler weather there is still room for jacket, hats and gloves.

At the top of the bag is a grab handle where I attach my Road ID and a couple other things I might need in a hurry.  The square object is my camera case and I can easily reach back and grab it, shoot a photo and replace the camera all one handed while under way.  At the far right is a can of pepper spray for bad dogs who don't stay in their yards.

It took me  a couple hours to cross my county and into the next before my goal came into view.  The Swartz Covered Bridge was built in 1878 by Moses Weymouth and is located in eastern Wyandot County, Ohio.  The design is a Covered Howe Through Truss and spans 94.2 feet across the Sandusky River.

Although the design is considered obsolete the fact that the bridge is still standing 133 years after it's construction is testament to the craftsmanship and common sense design of times past.  I went down below to take a picture of the underside of the structure which is amazingly all built of wood.

In this photo the original sandstone foundation blocks can be seen.  On the opposite bank which is on the outside bow of the river the bridge abutment is reinforced with concrete to combat erosion.

I rested and had a snack in the shade of the north end of the bridge and snapped this picture looking east upriver.  I find it very interesting to sit and contemplate all the different people who may have come and gone across this bridge hidden away in the quiet countryside.  For the first few decades of it's existence the only traffic to cross the span was horse drawn carriages and wagons, pedestrians and maybe an occasional bicycle.

The ride home was uneventful.  The forecast called for a 50/50 chance of thunderstorms and while it did cloud up and look threatening a couple times it never did rain and the cloud cover provided welcome relief from a hot afternoon sun.

Railroad tracks in this flat country always provide an interesting point of view.

I passed this wood carving of a buffalo and couldn't continue on without a picture.  Little things like this is why I love bicycling so much.  Exploring out of the way places and finding unique stuff is a great way to spend an afternoon and one of my favorite activities.

Swartz Bridge Loop

Bike:  HP Velotechnik Street Machine
Distance:  50.16 miles
Ride Time:  3:40:36
Average Speed:  13.6 mph
Max Speed:  23.3 mph



  1. Nice 50 mile ride and a pleasure to work you the other day on 40 meters! Hope to hear you more often now that I know we're in "radio range". 72's

    1. Hi John, happy to have you in the logbook. I figured we'd run into each other sooner or later. For an indoor antenna your signal was doing great -S8 to 9 and I even had someone keying down very near our frequency and your signal was still very readable.

      About your comment about lack of flat roads in your area -I guess I'm pretty lucky as a cyclist. If I feel like riding hills I go east and to ride the flats I head west.

    2. I usually get into your area very well Mike. It's the HF bounce off the gold dome of the state capitol building. Hihi

  2. I really think you should become some kind of chairman for the Ohio Tourism Board. Apart from doing some family genealogy on a line of my family, I had never really thought of Ohio as being such a great place to see so many great things! I am really enjoying your virtual tours of fun to see places and you do a great job of recording and describing features. I think the buffalo looks really nifty too. Just out of curiosity, do you know if the overhang on the bridge is for decorative or utilitarian purpose?

  3. Thanks Nate! Great question about the overhang. It's my guess that the whole purpose of the bridge's "cover" is to protect the timbers from the elements. I think maybe the reason for the overhang at each end is for added protection where the wood structure meets the stone foundation blocks. That's not a place you want moisture and rot weakening the wood. I'm no architectural engineer but that makes sense to me! This bridge was restored in the early 1990's. Don't know what they did but probably replaced siding and roof material and painting. It just amazes me that the structure has lasted as long as it has. A very cool piece of Ohio history.