LISBON, Ohio (WKBN) – All five of Columbiana County’s covered bridges have been restored, creating a tourist attraction few counties anywhere else can boast.
Bert Dawson — the longest serving elected official in Ohio and a Columbiana County Engineer for 48 years — is the man responsible for preserving history.
“It’s our tie to our past — where we came from,” Dawson said. “I think it’s interesting to a lot of people.”
With the swollen West Fork of Little Beaver Creek running underneath, WKBN spent Friday afternoon with Dawson and his chief engineer Troy Graft touring the McClellan Covered Bridge. It’s southwest of Lisbon — the last bridge in Columbiana County to be restored.
“There’s a hole in here that has a tongue that’s going in,” Dawson said.
The bridge was part of McClellan Road 140 years ago. The road was abandoned, but the bridge still stood — although not much remained at the end.
“It is restored to original and we used as many of the original members as we could,” Graft said. “Not many were salvageable.”
The Sells Covered Bridge is not far from McClellan. It’s located at Lock 24 restaurant in Lisbon and billed as the shortest covered bridge.
Meanwhile, one of the most popular is the Teegarden-Centennial Covered Bridge, which sits south of Salem.
Columbiana County Covered Bridges
Columbiana County Covered Bridges x
The bridge restorations were done with very little cost to the county. The $287,000 for the McClellan Bridge came from a federal grant.
“In fact, I had a little old guy who used to work for me,” Dawson said, “and he and his wife used to ride around on Sunday afternoon and there mission was to go out and find some old barn that he could get the siding off of.”
People like Albert McVay appreciate the effort. He uses the McClellan Bridge to cross Little Beaver Creek and pick mushrooms.
“Oh I love it,” McVay said. “Then they put up a real nice security light — it lights up everything — and you see it real good at night.”
One problem with covered bridges is graffiti. It pops up often.
In fact, someone sprayed graffiti on the new McClellan Bridge, which was cleaned up Friday afternoon.
“I say on these bridges, the people of Columbiana County paid for them 100-125 years ago,” Dawson said. “And we’re still getting — not bridge use out of them — but we’re getting tourism.”
“It’s amazing how many people really like these bridges,” he added.