Sunday, February 26, 2017

Along the Way: Canal Greenway Covered Bridge

The Canal Greenway Covered Bridge, Hebron, Ohio
Having left Columbus, Ohio, in the rear view mirror, I set out eastward on Interstate 70 in search of a handful of covered bridges that were on my list of places to visit while in the region. I had spent the afternoon visiting the Camp Chase Cemetery and was excited to leave the city behind and explore the beautiful structures dotting the countryside (more information about it can be found here: Camp Chase Cemetery). Setting the GPS unit to the Canal Greenway Covered bridge near Hebron, Ohio, I had just passed the Lancaster Road exit when the GPS informed me to “turn right and go off road.”

Quickly deciding that this was not the best option I exited at the Buckeye Lake/Newark exit and began making my way towards the covered bridge I sought. Following route 79 southward, I passed through the community of Buckeye Lake before turning right onto Canal Road.

The Canal Greenway Covered Bridge
After driving roughly one mile, my GPS informed me that I had arrived. But there was no covered bridge in sight. On my left was the old Ohio and Erie Canal with waters that appeared to flood over the road at any moment and on the right were open fields. Continuing a short distance, I spotted the covered bridge on my left, but there did not appear to be any parking. I debated pulling into the grass at the fish hatchery which was on the opposite side of the road, but as I neared the drive into the hatchery grounds I noticed a person getting into a vehicle just beyond the interstate. Driving under the interstate, I discovered a small parking area for the Canal Greenway Trail.

The portion of the trail I walked on was mostly grass with a worn path where others had trod. It was level and in a couple minutes I was standing at the covered bridge. The total length of the trail is just shy of three miles and expands from Route 79, also known as Walnut Street, near the intersection with Canal Road to Canal Park in Hebron. The trail mostly parallels Canal Road for its entire length.

The path reminded me of an old railroad bed, but I’m not one hundred percent sure if it was or was not a railroad bed at one time. I’ve found newspapers articles saying it was the old Penn Central Railroad and other articles stating it was the old canal path. I’m not sure which is correct, though it is possible both of them are correct – it may have been a tow path and then railroad bed.

The Canal Greenway Covered Bridge
The Canal Greenway Covered Bridge was erected in the early 1990s with a span of seventy-five feet. The design is a Town’s Truss, which is also referred to as a Lattice Truss, a type of design patented in 1820 by Ithiel Town. 

The bridge crosses over a small unnamed stream (or at least I could not find a name for it) that is almost completely hidden by the tall grasses. A short distance away, near Canal Road, the stream joins with waters coming from the canal and flows through the grounds of the fish hatchery before emptying into the South Fork of the Licking River.

As I passed through the bridge I was saddened by the amount of graffiti within. The bridge, which is in a very beautiful spot, is only marred by the thoughtlessness of others. On the other side of the bridge, the path begins to parallel the canal. I walked a short distance before returning back to the bridge for a couple of pictures.

Looking out through the lattice
Bridge on Canal Bridge in background
One thing I did notice about the area is the smell. Due to its closeness to the old canal, there is an overwhelming smell in the area. The best way I can describe it is that it is very similar to the rotting vegetation smell of a marsh or swamp.

After finishing some pictures, I made the short distance back to the vehicle to continue my journey. If passing through the area, it is worth the short detour to get out and stretch your legs during the drive.

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