The Mauthe Bridge Dedication

J. L. Mauthe looks at plaque

Fifty years ago the Poland Municipal Forest Board built a steel and wood suspension bridge over Yellow Creek. Since then a lot of water has passed under what is now called the Mauthe Bridge. Commemorating the 1956 dedication of the Mauthe Bridge, the Riverside Review looks back at the people who made this bridge possible.

First there was Attorney Osborne Mitchell (1886-1973) who was instrumental in creating the Poland Municipal Forest back in 1938. In a 1957 interview he made the following remarks. “I saw a suspension bridge at the Findlay Country Club and was impressed. I suggested to the (Forest) board that we build a suspension bridge to replace the old rustic footbridge that was carried away by high water. The board approved the idea and provided the funds”.
Chairman J. L. “Pete” Mauthe (1890-1967) said that he would donate the materials, while the engineering was provided by H. R. Balph (1889-1983). The bridge, built by a private contractor, is 125 feet long overall. It is 66 feet six inches from post to post. The steel cable, about 1.5 inches in diameter with a strength of 24,000 pounds, is anchored at each end to a deadman which contains 12 tons of concrete buried in the ground. Three yards of concrete were used for each of the four piers. A stone wall along the west bank protects the piers from erosion. The floor of the bridge is nine feet six inches above normal water, which is above any flood stage on record.”

Mr. Mitchell continued by adding, “Our greatest threat to the forest is juvenile destruction. Within a week after the Mauthe Bridge was finished, juveniles went in there and chopped the railing on the bridge. We had to go to their parents and tell them to repair the damage or face the consequences. We are mighty proud of the new footbridge as it opens the upper waters – particularly the bluebell patch – so people can visit the area”.
At the time the bridge was being built, Mr. Mauthe was the president of Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company with a new office building under construction on Market Street in Boardman. He lived at 18 Poland Manor Drive in Poland Village and was active in other community activities. Mr. Mauthe also provided a beautiful recreation park in the City of Struthers on Smithfield Avenue for everyone’s enjoyment. This Struthers Park also bears his name.

In 1959, under the supervision of Mr. Frank B. Thacher, the walking trail in the Poland Forest from College Street to the Mauthe Bridge was improved for auto traffic. On the east side of the creek Mr. Thacher widened the trail from the bottom of Poland Manor Drive, passing the suspension bridge and continuing on to a point near Walker Mill Road. Today this trail bears his name and is enjoyed by all who enter the park at Parkway and Indian Trail. Many other individuals have given of their time and energy on other improvements in the Poland Forest. Special thanks go to Jack Zedaker who built the first park pavilion. Four generations of the Zedaker family have been actively involved. Jack’s son, Robert Zedaker (1914-1970), served on the board with Mauthe while Robert’s son, Robert “Bob” Zedaker II, and his grandson Rob now direct Boy Scout Troop 44 in maintaining the trails and all the bridges throughout the Poland Forest located in Boardman Township but recently annexed to the Village of Poland.