By Linda Dillman
Lockbourne thinks big and that vision is paying off as the town prepares to welcome the newest member in its recreation inventory—a nearly $100,000 bridge linking two trail loops named after pioneers connected with early canal history.
The village is partnering with the Franklin County Engineer’s office on the installation of a $96,400 steel truss bridge at the east end of Locke Meadow Park and a smaller rope bridge in partnership with Columbus’ Parks and Recreation Department at a later date.
“We applied for funding through State Senator Tina Maharath, State Representative Rich Brown and State Representative Gary Scherer’s offices in December 2019,” said Lockbourne Mayor Christie Ward. “The project was approved in the Capital Budget in 2020.”
The engineer’s office is preparing the site for installation of the steel bridge, which is fabricated off-site and then trucked into the park. Installation is expected to be complete in June.
Two park trail loops, the Nye and the Maine—each approximately one mile long—will be connected by the bridge and allow hikers easy access to both loops on the Magnolia Trail.
The Maine Loop is named after the last canal boat that came through Lockbourne.
The Nye Loop is named after Pearl Nye who was born in 1872 into a family that operated several boats on the Ohio & Erie Canal. He briefly lived in Lockbourne. In his later years,
Nye preserved canal era music, poetry and stories. His collection is maintained by the Library of Congress.
The Magnolia Trail is named after a canal boat owned by a Lockbourne whiskey distillery, the Monypeny Distillery, which operated in the 1800s and produced 100 barrels of whiskey a day that shipped on the Magnolia and Cruiser canal boats.
Lockbourne plans to connect the two loops with the rope bridge at a location where the canal and a stormwater drain cross. A portion of the Magnolia Trail is part of Columbus Parks and Recreation land. Lockbourne, Metro Parks, and Columbus collaborated to create the Magnolia Trail.
“This project will connect two of the three loops in the Magnolia Trail, which will double the length of the trail,” Ward said. “Residents and visitors will be able to use both loops. The goal is to host cross country meets and this expansion will make that a reality. It should also attract more walkers and hikers to Locke Meadow Park.”