Monday, April 30, 2007

Sandusky Bay Bridge Linked Two Counties

On February 2, 1929 the Sandusky Bay Bridge was dedicated, providing a direct route for automobiles across the bay, between Erie and Ottawa Counties. The project was authorized by acts of Congress and the Ohio legislature. The bridge was privately financed by the Sandusky Bay Bridge Company, but the State of Ohio took ownership of the bridge in 1936.

At the time of its construction the Sandusky Bay Bridge was the longest bridge and causeway in Ohio. The construction firm was “A. Bentley and Sons” from Toledo and the engineers were “Harrington, Howard and Ash” from St. Louis. Steel work was done by the Mount Vernon Bridge Company.
(For more pictures of the construction of the Bay Bridge, see the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library's "Images in Time" website.)

To commemorate the opening of the bridge, a luncheon was held at the Sandusky Junior High School. Ohio Governor Myers Y. Cooper addressed an audience of 1,600. He began with “I assure you it is a very deep satisfaction to me to come to Erie County and the progressive city of Sandusky to celebrate with you the consummation of a great business enterprise which will be of incalculable benefit to the citizens, not only of this county, but of Northern Ohio.”
Congressman James T. Begg, who had been instrumental in the Sandusky Bay Bridge project presided as toastmaster. Just before the luncheon twenty carrier pigeons were released, through an arrangement with the Sandusky Register. The pigeons carried a message from Gov. Cooper and were sent to other Ohio newspapers, Chambers of Commerce, and Auto Clubs.

Shortly after 3 p.m. on February 2, Governor Cooper shook hands with Toledo Mayor Jackson as the imaginary ribbon was cut, and the bridge was formally opened to traffic. The oldest person in Erie County, Mrs. Christina Heim, age 101, and the oldest person in Ottawa County, Robert Meacham, age 90, took part in the ceremonies. The Ackley Band played, and there was a 17-gun salute. Ohio’s Adjutant General sent three airplanes which flew over the bridge dropping aerial bombs in honor of the occasion. A chief from the Chippewa nation presented Gov. Cooper with a headdress, as he became an honorary member of the Chippewa tribe.

An estimated 3,000 to 4,000 automobiles crossed the bridge that day. Tolls were not charged until midnight. Fees were charged for crossing the bridge until 1946.

By the 1960’s the state of Ohio as widening Route 2 into a four lane highway. The four lane Edison Memorial Bridge was constructed parallel to the Sandusky Bay Bridge. Both bridges were used from 1965 until the mid-1980’s when the State of Ohio removed the steel center of the old bridge, because of the high cost of maintenance. Now the two ends of the Sandusky Bay Bridge are used as fishing piers.


Anonymous said...

I can remember when the traffic was so heavy in Bay View that they
had to direct traffic on hot summer
days in the weekend, when everyone
was heading to the lake over the
old Bay Bridge!

Anonymous said...

Any pictures of the ceremony exist? Just found out that Christina Heim was my great-great grandmother and was told the story about this ceremony.

Sandusky Library Archives Research Center said...

"Any pictures of the ceremony exist?"

Not in the Sandusky Library's collections, unfortunately. It would be nice if there were pictures of the ceremony available somewhere.

Denny Behrman said...

D. Behrman
Does anyone remember that shortly after the toll booth was closed, one or two men broke into the booth to keep warm. Soon after, cars started stopping to pay their tolls. The men gratefully collected the money until a State Patrolman arrived and put a stop to it. 2-24-14

Anonymous said...

Did anyone ever go off the bridge when it was open? I remember as a kid being terrified every time we had to go over it on our way to East Harbor, because someone had said that had happened. I'd like to know if my fears were based on a reality or just a story! The photograph of the bridge gives me a knot in my stomach just looking at it! lol!

Anonymous said...

yes i remember a car that went off the bridge, it was so sad.My family and i was out in a boat when they pulled the car up and out of the water. That is something i will never forget.