You’re standing on the 5th permanent bridge to cross the river in this location. The first lasted from 1819 til 1866. It was destroyed by a flood. The second was a suspension bridge. It was torn down for the countries longest single span bridge. The third bridge was destroyed by the great flood of 1913. The next bridge lasted 80 years. It was widened and repaired a couple of times.
"It is a long wooden tunnel, with two roadways and a footpath on either side of these; there is a tollhouse at each end, and from one to the other it is about as far as from the Earth to the planet Mars," said William Dean Howells, whose prolific writing career earned him recognition as "the dean of American letters."
In 1867, Butler County commissioners decided to erect a wire suspension bridge, inspired by the work of John A. Roebling’s bridge over the Ohio River in Cincinnati. According to the Butler County Historical Society, the suspension bridge cost $85,000.
“It was a nice, sturdy bridge,” Finfrock said, “but it when streetcars got wider, it was too narrow for them to pass, so they built a temporary bridge then cut the cables and dropped it in the river” in 1894.
“They were going to make doggone sure that the city had a big enough bridge,” Finfrock said. “They built the largest single-span truss bridge in the United States at the time it was built.”
Below: The Columbia Bridge circa 1900
Below: Black Street bridge under construction