SIDNEY — A year minus one month from the dedication ceremony for the Zenas King bowstring bridge, the Ohio Historical Marker erected at the site was dedicated. The ceremony was marked by beautiful weather, an appreciative audience, and seven speakers.
As was the case with the bridge dedication ceremony, Sidney Mayor Mike Barhorst played the role of master of ceremonies. He noted that each of the speakers had “wittingly or unwittingly, played a role in securing Shelby County’s fifth Ohio Historical Marker.”
It is the third such marker located in Sidney. Others are located at the People’s Federal Savings & Loan Association building and the Shelby County Courthouse.
Shelby County Historical Society’s 2019 Historian of the Year Mary Ann Olding spoke about her efforts to enlist support for saving “the last known remaining example of a Zenas King bowstring bridge in Ohio.” In her remarks, Olding mentioned the important role that retired Auglaize County Bridge Engineer Dan Bennett had played in saving the bridge, praised Tim Hemmelgarn’s willingness to donate the bridge to the city of Sidney, and signaled out Barhorst for special praise.
Hemmelgarn’s remarks were brief. He and his wife Debbie purchased the farm that for many years had been owned by the Bernard Brandewie family. He mentioned Tom Brandewie and his wife, who were in attendance representing the Brandewie family.
Sidney’s Parks and Recreation Director Duane Gaier praised Sidney’s civic leaders who were responsible for the existence of Tawawa Park, and the efforts that have been made by today’s leaders to continue to enhance the park’s features, mentioning the bridge, the inclusive play area, and the extension of the Canal Feeder Tail that will eventually connect the park with the Great Miami Riverway.
LJB Senior Bridge Engineer Daniel Springer spoke about the project, and then presented Barhorst with the 2021 Historic Bridge Award. The award, presented jointly by the Federal Highway Administration, The Ohio Department of Transportation, the State Historic Preservation Office, and The County Engineers Association of Ohio, was presented in “recognition of the outstanding efforts for the rehabilitation of the Zenas King Historic Bridge in Tawawa Park.”
Springer also presented Barhorst with The American Council of Engineering Companies of Ohio 2021 Engineering Excellence Award for the year’s Outstanding Small Project. Springer pointed out that “small projects” were those under one million dollars.
Doug Miller, vice president of the Ohio Historic Bridge Association, spoke on behalf of the association. He addressed the historic importance of Zenas King’s design and its’ impact on the westward expansion of the country.
“Zenas King was among a handful of 19th Century bridge builders whose bridges received wide acceptance across the United States,” Miller said. “As the head of Cleveland, Ohio’s King Iron Bridge & Manufacturing Company, King developed his tubular bowstring bridge in 1859. King patented the design in 1861 and renewed the patent in 1867.
“King’s square tubular members were simple to fabricate and ship to distant locations in pieces for assembly on site,” Miller said. “Knowing that an arch has inherent strength, King’s design used less raw material than wooden bridges and enjoyed wide popularity until the introduction of steel bridges in the 1880s.”
“King’s tubular bowstring design stimulated widespread enthusiasm for iron bridges,” Miller told those in attendance. “By 1880 the King Iron Bridge & Manufacturing Company was among the largest manufacturers of highway bridges in the nation. Unfortunately, this is one of two examples remaining in Ohio, and certainly the best preserved.”
Laura Russell, Ohio History Connection’s Historical Markers coordinator, spoke about the application process required to secure an Ohio Historical Marker.
“The application for an Ohio Historical Marker requires a local sponsor,” Russell said. “That local sponsor can be a local historical society, a civic organization, or local government. The local sponsor submits an application, is responsible for the cost of marker, the installation of the marker, and the ongoing maintenance of the marker after it is installed. Once an application has been accepted into the Markers Program, Ohio History Connection Local History Services confirms the historical significance of the subject, ensures the marker text is historically accurate, and collaborates with the local sponsor to finalize the text as it will appear on the marker.
“In the case of the Zenas King Bridge, the City of Sidney was the local sponsor, with the Ohio Historic Bridge Association providing significant funding,” Russell said. “Ohio Historic Bridge Association President David Simmons worked with Mayor Barhorst on the wording for the historical marker. After carefully footnoting each fact contained on the marker, the text was further edited by me, resulting in the final text contained on the sign.”
Russell then called Barhorst back to the podium to present him with a commendation for the city of Sidney from Ohio History Connection “for furthering the knowledge of our state’s heritage by placing an Ohio Historical Marker to tell the story of Zenas King, his Bowstring Bridge and their place in Shelby County history.”
Russell then presented Barhorst with a commendation from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted for erecting the Zenas King Bowstring Bridge Historical Marker.
“On behalf of the state of Ohio, we welcome all those gathered for the placement of the Ohio Historical Marker. Historical markers reflect and honor the people, places and events associated with our state’s rich history, and through this reflection, encourage appreciation for our past as we look to our future,” the commendation read.
Barhorst then called forward those who had participated in the project to unveil the Ohio Historical Marker, including Russell, Olding, Tim and Debra Hemmelgarn, Gaier, Ohio Department of Transportation District 7 Deputy Director Randy Chevalley, Councilmember Liaison to the Parks and Recreation Board Ed Hamaker, Park & Recreation Board Member Amy Zorn, Tom and Pam Brandewie, Zachrich Construction President Stephan Zachrich, Sidney Engineering Manager Randy Magoto and Bennett, who volunteered his time to complete the required engineering work necessary for the rehabilitation.
Before concluding, Barhorst then asked Bennett, Chevalley, Olding, Gaier and Tim and Deb Hemmelgarn to move to the other side of the walkway to unveil a bronze plaque mounted to a large boulder that read: “In appreciation to Tim and Deb Hemmelgarn for donating the bridge designed by Zenas King to the City of Sidney and for those who assisted with this project, especially Mary Ann Olding, Dan Bennett, Duane Gaier, David Simmons, and the Ohio Department of Transportation.”
“It was the Ohio Department of Transportation that provided the bulk of the funding for this project through a Transportation Alternatives Program Grant,” Barhorst reminded those in attendance. “Hopefully we’ll be able to secure a couple more grants to rescue other bridges, and relocate them to the park.”