Zoar Valley Trail

As I had to have bloodwork drawn at the doctor’s office, I decided to head north just a bit, to Bolivar, Ohio, and run on the Zoar Valley Trail.

I picked up this trail at Fort Laurens. This is a historical site-the only Revolutionary War Fort in Ohio.

Apparently the Zoar Valley Trail is also combined with the Ohio&Erie Towpath Trail at this point also.
Canals were popular in the early 19th century to get people and goods faster than horseback. This was before trains. There were quite a few canals dug and built in Ohio. Most were finished around the time of the railroads-which pretty much killed their business. There was a big flood in 1913, which destroyed many canals.

Well, for anyone not from the Ohio area, horses or mules pulled the canal boats. The animals walked on the “towpath” right next to the canal. Many of these towpaths have been converted into recreational systems. Some have asphalt surfaces, some are a crushed limestone. The towpath I was running on was a bit rougher.
I passed three of the locks. These locks were due to a change of elevation. The canal boats would enter the lock, and the water would be either lowered or brought up so the canal boat could continue. (Don’t ask me how this worked.)
As I ran, I also noticed the “blue blaze” on the tree. The Buckeye Trail also shares space on this trail.
I got almost to my turn around point, where I noticed the historical marker for the Zoarville Station Fink Truss Bridge. Well I had to go and look at it! Pretty cool bridge.
The Zoarville Station Bridge at is the only Fink Through-Truss bridge known to exist in the United States. Well, of course, I had to find out why this was a big deal.
The Zoarville Station Bridge is a rare survivor of the earliest period of iron bridge construction in the United States, an era when unprecedented railroad expansion gave American bridge builders an international reputation for innovation. German immigrant Albert Fink first developed this truss design for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad in the early 1850s.
Because it is the last of its type, features unique engineering, uses Phoenix columns in its structure, and is ancient with an 1868 construction date, this is a bridge that is rivaled by few in terms of importance.

The bridge features the highly unusual Fink truss configuration. These endposts are vertical and utilize a modified Phoenix Column. Phoenix columns are also used for the top chord and vertical members. Phoenix columns were a special patented type of built-up member. Very few examples of them remain today.

The bridge is also noteworthy for its high levels of aesthetic value. Most notably, the portal of this bridge has a very unique and stunning design to it that makes standing before this bridge quite a visual experience.

Wow! This apparently is a big deal. This is only one section of the bridge. There was originally three sections, and it spanned the Tuscarawas River in Dover. It has been reassembled and restored, and now is over the Conotton Creek.

It was a nice little find out there. Fort Laurens is right off I-77, at the Bolivar exit. This entire trail is actually 20 miles long. It’s non-hilly. It’s almost flat. This might be a good training trail for some “safe” winter miles.

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