The Silver Bridge. The Cinderella Bridge. The Castle Bridge. The Walt Disney Bridge. It has been called all of these things. Strictly speaking, its name is the Suspension Bridge. For those of you who are not from Youngstown, Vindy.com has a wonderful video of the bridge in its autumn glory. Whatever you call it, it is truly one of the magical features that make Mill Creek Park the special place it is for all of us who call Youngstown home.
I learned that Volney Rogers, who helped establish Mill Creek Park, intended it that way. He wanted “fanciful entrances” to the park, and this bridge, the oldest in the park, clearly lived up to his expectations. It was designed by Charles Fowler and built by the Youngstown Bridge Company in 1895. The total length of the bridge is 89.9 feet and the deck width is 20 feet (32 feet with walkways). It is characterized as an “eyebar suspension” bridge. But what makes it stand out is the silver paint job, the decorative spires and arches and metal work. It is a favorite wedding picture location and any of us who have photo albums probably have a picture of the bridge somewhere. Perhaps some of the most gorgeous pictures are those taken after a big snowfall in the winter, when it looks like the central feature in a winter wonderland.
The bridge spans Mill Creek north of Lanterman falls and before it flows into Lake Cohasset and links the west and east sides of the park. In high school and college, I loved to cycle through the park and sometimes stop just to think and try to sort out life. One of my favorite spots was the rock formation on the west side of the bridge. I loved to clamber up on the rocks, which were shaded by trees and take in the bridge, the stream and surrounding area. There are so many places like that in the park and this was one of my favorites.
There is an open meadow on the east side of the bridge that we called The Flats. Coming off the bridge, the road bends to the right, with Mill Creek on one side and the meadow on the other. When I was a teenager The Flats was a favorite gathering place for young couples who wanted to sit in the sun, guys playing frisbee, and probably more than a few smoking weed!
The bridge is a functional bridge, open to traffic. In 2007, it went through a major rehabilitation project to restore its appearance and structural integrity. DOT Construction Corp of Canfield did the restoration work, important in safeguarding this river crossing in the park as well preserving its structural beauty. The Mahoning Valley Historical Society, Youngstown State University, and the Ohio Historic Preservation Office all consulted on the restoration. It was posted on the National Register of Historic Places on October 29, 1976. Truly a jewel!
What are your memories of the Silver Bridge? Do you have a favorite time of the year to photograph the bridge?