SIDNEY — Plans for the unveiling of the Ohio Historical Marker that will be placed near the Zenas King Bowstring Bridge were announced by Sidney Mayor Mike Barhorst. The dedication is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 18, at 2:30 p.m. Barhorst applied for the Transportation Alternatives Program Grant that made the project possible.
“Because of the uncertainty as to whether our application for an Ohio Historical Marker would be accepted,” Barhorst said, “we proceeded with the dedication of the bridge last year. Had our application for a marker not been accepted, we thought it would seem a bit odd to be dedicating the bridge more than a year after it had been put in use. In fact, we received word that our application had been accepted on Oct. 22, about a month after the dedication ceremony.”
The application for an Ohio Historical Marker requires a local sponsor. 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.
“We wrote several different versions of the text before the final draft was approved,” Barhorst said. “There is a maximum number of words allowed, and in addition, the marker does not allow the names of any living person. We originally credited Tim and Debra Hemmelgarn, who donated the bridge to the city of Sidney, with their donation in the text. Removing their names from the text was one of the first revisions, but certainly not the last.”
“Every line in the text had to be footnoted,” Barhorst continued. “Fortunately Ohio Historic Bridge Association President David Simmons, who has written a great deal about Zenas King, was able to assist with not only the final text, but the twelve footnotes the text required.”
Side 1 of the sign reads: “Zenas King (1818-1892) was a 19th century bridge builder whose iron bridges received wide acceptance throughout the country. He developed his tubular bowstring bridge in 1859, patented the design in 1861, renewed the patent in 1867, and founded King Iron Bridge & Manufacturing Company in 1871. Based on an arch’s inherent strength, King’s design used less raw materials than wooden bridges and the square tubes were simple to fabricate and ship for on-site assembly. His Cleveland-based company soon built so many patent bowstrings across Ohio that it set a design standard. (Continued on other side)”
Side 2 reads: “(Continued from other side) King’s tubular bowstring design created widespread enthusiasm for iron bridges and by 1880 his Ohio company was among the largest manufacturers of highway bridges in the nation. This bridge, built in 1879 as part of two spans crossing Loramie Creek near Fort Loramie, is one of two Zenas King bowstring bridges extant in Ohio. When the Great Flood of 1913 severely damaged the bridge’s abutments, it was sold and relocated to a privately owned farm. Donated to the City of Sidney, the bridge was restored and relocated to Tawawa Park during Sidney’s bicentennial celebration in 2020.”
Once the text was finalized, the production of the marker was authorized. Ohio Historical Markers are produced by Sewah Studios in Marietta, Ohio, then shipped to the location. Sidney’s marker was received in May.
It was at that point that a smaller bronze plaque was cast recognizing Tim and Debra Hemmelgarn’s donation to the city of Sidney. In addition, the plaque contains the names of others whose significant contributions made the project a reality. That plaque is currently being mounted to a large boulder at Nickol Monuments in Versailles. The boulder will be placed near the Ohio Historical Marker.
The project has received several awards. LJB Senior Bridge Engineer Daniel W. Springer is expected to attend and present two of the awards to the City of Sidney. The public is invited to attend.