Monday, September 7, 2015

Bridge Planning from Valuation Maps

The Adena Railroad branchline stretched twenty and a half miles from Adena to Neffs near Bellaire, Ohio. Over that distance the Adena Branch packed in some remarkable features including two tunnels, one being the longest on the W&LE system, and thirty six bridges. Three of those bridges were some of the most impressive spans on the entire Wheeling system. They are the Maynard Bridge at MP 10.01, the Jug Run Bridge at MP 10.91 and the Route 9 Bridge at MP 12.68.

The three big bridges were all in a row within three miles of each other as the railroad snaked from the valley of Cox Run and Wheeling Creek to the Jug Run valley. I hope to model all three or at least two of them in some form.

The Adena Railroad Bridge 10.01 took the W&LE from Maynard over the B&O(CL&W) and Wheeling Creek and onward to St. Clairsville. This was the first and biggest (507 feet) of the three mentioned. 12-19-2012 Chris Ellis photo
In order to get a better feel for how these bridges would fit in the layout space and at what scale could they be built at I decided some mock ups needed to be made.

Last year I discovered Belmont County's excellent GIS department had scanned and uploaded the W&LE's Valuation maps along with other area railroads within the county borders. They also have some excellent aerial photography for their county, between these sources I naturally felt like I'd hit the mother lode of historical data.

Using the PDF valuation maps and Adobe Photoshop I was able to cut out the section of map I needed.

The PDF valuation map of Adena Railroad Bridge 10.01  I'm not sure if this bridge had a name called by the railroad men or locals. I've ended up calling it the Maynard Bridge. If you know differently please let me know.
I rotated it and cropped it further to achieve something that can be printed reasonably without consuming a ton of ink or paper.

Rotated and cropped, ready for printing.
From the Adobe Reader software, I printed the bridge map on "poster mode" at 100% to get a test print. Taking a HO scale ruler I measured a part of the bridge, the 153' Through Truss Bridge, and found it to be only 93' long. Luckily my recent College Math classes helped with an equation to find the proper scale to print at.

 x=5100/31 or about 164.5 which I rounded up to 165 and then printed a new tile set at 165% scale.

The printed 153' long truss bridge section was perfect against the ruler and quickly became a live lesson to my son as to how math is important beyond the classroom.

Here's two of the bridges printed out to HO scale, the Maynard Bridge at top and the bottom one is the third big bridge, the 336 foot long Route 9 Bridge near St. Clairsville (now part of the National Road Bikeway and nicely restored, Google Maps link here). Again I'm not sure the real name for this bridge, so if you know please drop me a comment.

Printing to scale a success!
As much as I would love to make each of these to scale, they are pretty big. The Maynard Bridge if made to exact scale in HO would be almost six feet long! Some amount of compression will be needed when these get modeled.

For now I have some scrap 1/2" pink foam I'll mount these paper bridges to so I can move them around my basement and get a feel for how big is too big.


  1. This is a fantastic article! I thoroughly enjoy reading your blogs. All the years I've studied that same stretch, I've never ran across an actual title for the bridges other than the numbering you've used. Being from Maynard, it's great to see the interest in my community!

  2. Thanks for reading! Glad to see people from the area stumble upon my blog.
    Not all bridges have names but I felt these three were big enough to possible be named something, at least to the locals and railroad workers. The Jug Run Bridge is the only one I've seen called just that in papers, the others I've only taken a reasonable guess at. For instance the bridge at Maynard could've been just as easily been called the Wheeling Creek Bridge.
    If anybody knows for sure let me know!