When crossing the Y-Bridge of Zanesville, Ohio, it’s best to believe your GPS when it instructs you to take a left in the middle of a river.
Located at the confluence of the Licking and Muskingum Rivers, downtown Zanesville has long sought a solution to its watery woes. Since 1814, engineers have determined that a unique, y-shaped bridge construction was the answer. So remarkable is the design that pioneering aviatrix Amelia Earhart even remarked that it made Zanesville ”the most recognizable city in the country.”
The bridge that stands today is the fifth to feature such a literally unparalleled design. In 1979, a team of consultants reported that the fourth y-bridge was too damaged to be saved, and “that it is deteriorating rapidly and becoming a serious hazard.” Stalwart as ever, Zanesville stuck to what it knew best, and built the fifth y-bridge up to spec, replete with an intersection in the middle of the water, where traffic from U.S. Route 40 (Main Street and West Main Street) meets Linden Avenue.
Regardless of the construction, one delightful fact has remained true since the early 19th century: Zanesville’s charmingly strange bridge stands among just a few bridges in the world that can be crossed without changing sides of the river.