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* News Release *
Wednesday, September 22, 1999
For Immediate Release


The Butler County Engineer's Office reports that restoration of the historic Black Covered Bridge is nearly complete. Crews reconstructed the two trusses, refurbished the siding and flooring, replaced numerous support beams, and installed a new roof with cedar shingles.

"All that's left is to build a new approach on the Corso Road side and shore up the pier a bit," said Butler County Engineer Dean Foster. "The existing ramp leading up to the bridge is steep so we will reduce the slope by extending the ramp outward. Work on the pier should proceed rapidly since water in the creek bed is very low right now." The Oxford Museum Association will landscape around the bridge in the Spring after which they plan to hold a dedication ceremony.

The County Engineer was pleased with the way the project has turned out. "I'd like to commend everyone involved for helping to preserve this historic treasure --- the Save Our Span Committee, Oxford Museum Association, the contractor W.M. Brode, and our BCEO staff. It has turned out to be an excellent project."

Work to rehabilitate the Oxford Township bridge began in mid-1997 when the Brode Company of Newcomerstown, Ohio was awarded the construction contract. Restoration efforts took longer than expected due to unforeseen damage and difficulty obtaining the special lumber that was required.

Only a few mills, all located in the South, produce the special cut of lumber needed to restore the bridge. Logging efforts were severely inhibited by heavy rains and soggy ground last year at the Louisiana mill selected to cut the order. Ant and termite infestations, dry rot, and damage from fire were also discovered during construction. This damage could not be detected until the actual bridge members were taken apart. Butler County Commissioners approved payments to cover the additional work.

Historical Review

Built in 1870 and named Pugh's Mill Bridge, it was originally one of 25 covered bridges in Butler County. Now known as the Black Bridge, it one of only two remaining covered bridges in Butler County and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The 206 foot bridge crossing Four Mile Creek is a Long Truss bridge, utilizing a truss design patented in the 1830s by Colonel Stephen H. Long.

It was closed to vehicular traffic in the early 1950s when State Route 732 was improved and rerouted adjacent to the bridge. The structure was eventually closed to pedestrians in 1976 due to its increasingly unstable condition. Though various restoration efforts were ongoing since 1973 with the help of the Oxford Museum Association, by the early 1990s major rehabilitation would be required to save the structure from eventual collapse.

The Butler County Engineer's Office began design and engineering and applied for a grant to help pay for the project. In December 1996, a $226,800 grant was officially received from ODOT's Transportation Enhancement Activities program and construction plans were underway. Another $200,000 grant was received in 1998, and the Oxford Museum Association also raised matching funds to help pay for the $750,000 project.

Photos of Rehabilitation Progress and the Completed Project

Photo 1: Covered Bridge rehab: After removal of old siding and roof
Photo 2: Covered Bridge rehab: Close-up of skeleton bridge
Photo 3: Covered Bridge rehab: Setting of falsework
Photo 4: Covered Bridge rehab: Dry rot damage
Photo 5: Covered Bridge rehab: Roof truss placement
Photo 6: Covered Bridge rehab: Rail installation
Photo 7: Covered Bridge rehab: Work inside bridge
Photo 8: Covered Bridge rehab: General outside view
Photo 9: Covered Bridge rehab: Siding installation
Photo 10: Covered Bridge rehab: Rooftop view of shingle installation
Photo 11: Covered Bridge rehab: Staining
Photo 12: Covered Bridge restoration complete
Photo 13: Covered Bridge restoration complete
Photo 14: Covered Bridge restoration complete
Photo 15: Covered Bridge restoration complete

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