"S" Stands for Bridge


S-bridges are a unique feature of the National Road. Folklore abounds as to why they were built. One story suggests the s-shape forced drivers to slow their horses, reducing the chance of accidents. Some said the bridges were originally built around huge trees, while others claimed they were the result of inebriated bridge builders. However, there is a logical explanation for Ohio's crooked bridges. The National Road seldom encountered streams and rivers at a direct 90-degree angle. In order for bridges to be constructed so as to cross these bodies of water at 90 degrees while maintaining the direction and location of the Road, an S-shaped design was selected as the solution. The S-shape easily accommodated slow-moving droves of animals and horse and oxen-drawn wagons, but with the advent of higher-speed automobile traffic they became a hazard. Most were soon bypassed, although at least one - near Hendrysburg - was straightened in 1933 and continued in use for several more years.

S-bridge at Hendrysburg, Ohio
S-bridge at Hendrysburg, Ohio straightened in 1933.

Old National Road bridge, Bridgewater, Ohio, demolished
Old National Road bridge, Bridgewater, Ohio, demolished

S-Bridge west of Middlebourne
S-bridge west of Middlebourne showing the alignment of original Road (on left) crossing the bridge, U.S. 40 at upper right.

  Follow this link to the Blaine Bridge Community Preservation site