Taking advantage of a warm sunny November day, I went for a run on the Little Miami Trail north past Ft. Ancient. Appearing in the distance over 250 feet above the trail loomed the construction site of the new I-71 bridge. I looked up to see a center section of the North span had been removed.
I paused to snap few pictures, and a rush of memories from 50 years past came over me. I recalled the day a group of kids from Morrow helped dedicate the then-new steel bridge.
The bridge is actually a set of twin two-lane spans supported by a steel truss underneath the deck. It opened for traffic in 1965, running a length of 2,224 feet--about half a mile--and rising 240 feet over the Little Miami River. It carries about 60,000 vehicles a day, serving as a major freight corridor between Columbus and Cincinnati.
At that time I was a 4th grader in Mrs. Hadley's class at Morrow Elementary. Our school, being named for the first governor of Ohio Jeremiah Morrow, was invited to attend the opening ceremonies and ribbon cutting. My classmates and I were excited to have a special day out of school, and proud that this huge creation carried the name of our small town.
The event took place on the west bank of the river under the bridge and was attended by then-Governor James Rhodes. We sang the "Train to Morrow" song*, speeches were given, and ribbons cut. We boarded the buses and went back to school with a sense of pride and accomplishment.
As I turned back to head home down the trail, the new and old bridges disappeared behind me. With an expected lifespan of 75 to 100 years this new bridge will no doubt outlast me. But whenever I pass under those new state-of-the-art concrete spans, I will also see a friend from the past--the old bridge--through the eyes of that 8-year-old boy.