The iron bridge has been closed for years to vehicular traffic. Indeed, a road that once crossed the bridge over the Tuscarawas River at Crystal Springs has become two roads divided by the bridge — Riverside Avenue NW on the south and High Mill Avenue NW on the north. Still, the bridge continues to do its share of connecting things.
The bridge over the Tuscarawas River at Crystal Springs is bottomless. Oh, the bed of the bridge is not completely without support to feet or bicycle tires making their way across it. But, in similar fashion to a sidewalk grating, the iron grid roadway that spans the length of the bridge has abundant openings. If you drop car keys or loose change it’s going to slip through and fall the 20 or so feet to the water’s surface, then eventually find the bed of the river.
The iron bridge has been closed for years to vehicular traffic. Indeed, a road that once crossed it has become two roads divided by the bridge — Riverside Avenue NW on the south and High Mill Avenue NW on the north.
Still, the bridge continues to do its share of connecting things. South of the Crystal Springs bridge, both Forty Corners Street NW and Stark County Park District’s Olde Muskingum Trail run parallel to the Tuscarawas River. North of the metal span, Erie Avenue NW and the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail shadow the waterway. The way to get from one set of the travel paths to the other is the well-worn bridge.
An interpretive sign tells the past of what a Jackson Township website page calls one of the township’s most historic structures.
“The bridge across the Tuscarawas River at this site was destroyed by the 1913 flood. A temporary swinging bridge forced Crystal Springs citizens to cross the river at great risk,” explains text on the sign. “In 1914, this bridge was erected. The wooden floor was replaced by iron grid in the 1940s. In 1995, when Stark County commissioners vacated this bridge, the Jackson Historical Society intervened to save it. As a result, the Jackson Township trustees assumed responsibility for this bridge. In 1996, this bridge and road easement were formally dedicated as the Crystal Springs Bridge Park.”
That park — the bridge and a clearing in the trees next to the Tuscarawas River — is a stopping point for canoeists on the river, as well as bicyclists and hikers on the Towpath Trail.
“LAST STOP CFCL,” announces a sign for Canal Fulton Canoe Livery.
A ramp made of small stones provides a pull-up point for the canoes. Evidence of a couple of campfires lingers in the park. Stand at the bank between the river and the park and you’ll get an unobstructed view of the bridge above.
The view from the bridge itself likely is one of the more peaceful looks at the river offered in the area. Metal girders afford ample points from which to gaze and the river snakes away on both sides of the bridge.
The view — at least the green and growing part of it — comes toward an onlooker. Vegetation is creeping onto the bridge from both sides and below, poking leafy vines through openings in the metal. It is evidence that the bridge is unused by any kind of vehicle that would wear away the overgrowth.
Page 2 of 2 - Guardrails at both ends of the bridge prevent access by cars. Openings between sections of the guardrails, however, seem to welcome pedestrians. “Come walk on this. The view is fine.”
As if cued by this thought, a couple of riding bicycles roll onto the bridge, stopping in the middle to take a picture of the Tuscarawas River at its most picturesque angle.
Crystal Springs Bridge lives on, if only as a scenic overlook.