I was headed east on Interstate 70, having left Columbus, Ohio in the rear view mirror, when the GPS unit started telling me I had arrived at my destination. Knowing the covered bridge was definitely not on the interstate, I glanced to my right and could see the covered bridge down the embankment and a short distance away. Despite the GPS informing me to “turn right and go off road,” I decided to continue to Buckeye Lake/Newark exit before making my way towards the covered bridge I sought. Following Route 79 southward, I passed through the community of Buckeye Lake before turning right onto Canal Road.
Driving along Canal Road, the old Ohio and Erie Canal, with waters that appeared to flood over the road at any moment, was on my left and there were open fields on my right. Roughly a mile after turning onto Canal Road, I spotted the covered bridge on the left, but there was no parking nearby for it. I debated pulling into the grass at the fish hatchery which was on the opposite side of the road, but as I neared the drive into the hatchery grounds I noticed a person getting into a vehicle just beyond the interstate. Driving under the interstate, I discovered a small parking area for the Canal Greenway Trail.
The portion of the trail I walked on was mostly grass with a worn path where others had trod and in a couple minutes I was standing at the covered bridge. The total length of the trail is just shy of three miles and expands from Route 79, also known as Walnut Street, near the intersection with Canal Road to Canal Park in Hebron. The trail mostly parallels Canal Road for its entire length.
Note: The path reminded me of an old railroad bed, but I’m not one hundred percent sure if it was or was not a railroad bed at one time. I’ve found newspaper articles saying it was the old Penn Central Railroad and other articles stating it was the old canal path. I’m not sure which is correct, though it is possible both of them are correct – it may have been a tow path and then railroad bed.
Although it is considered a historic bridge, the Canal Greenway Covered Bridge is a modern covered bridge, having been erected in the early 1990s with a span of seventy-five feet. The design is a Town’s Truss, which is also referred to as a Lattice Truss, a type of design patented in 1820 by Ithiel Town.
The bridge crosses over a small unnamed stream (or at least I could not find a name for it) that is almost completely hidden by the tall grasses. A short distance away, near Canal Road, the stream joins with waters coming from the canal and flows through the grounds of the fish hatchery before emptying into the South Fork of the Licking River.
As I passed through the bridge I was saddened by the amount of graffiti within. The bridge, which is in a very beautiful spot, is only marred by the thoughtlessness of others. On the other side of the bridge, the path begins to parallel the canal. I walked a short distance before returning back to the bridge for a couple of pictures.
After finishing some pictures, I made the short distance back to the vehicle to continue my journey. If passing through the area, it is worth the short detour to get out and stretch your legs during the drive – just don’t try to get there from the Interstate like the GPS will tell you to do.
Note: If there is a downside to the bridge – other than the vandalism – it is the smell of the area. The stagnant waters give the area a smell that is similar to the rotting vegetation smell of a marsh or swamp.