By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- In the Led Zeppelin song, "The Crunge," singer Robert Plant lyrically asked: "Has anybody seen the bridge? Have you seen the bridge? I ain't seen the bridge. Where's that confounded bridge?"
Plant wasn't inquiring about the Old Stone Bridge at Youngstown State University. However, Paul McFadden, YSU's chief development officer and a Led Zeppelin fan, found the bridge on campus during a jog a few years ago.
"I stopped in my tracks and said, 'Hey, this is it. This is the bridge,'" he said.
McFadden was jogging in the area just east of Maag Library and spotted the stone top of the bridge.
McFadden said he is often asked by university alumni about the bridge. Until the day he saw the stones, he would tell them he'd never seen the bridge.
"I travel all over the country, and I would tell our alumni that there's no doggone bridge," he said.
As part of YSU's centennial celebration in 2008, the Old Stone Bridge, nearly covered with dirt for 40 years, is being dug up. John White, professor emeritus of anthropology and sociology, is leading a team of about 12 volunteers, including five YSU students, to uncover and restore the 26-foot-long bridge, which is perhaps 8 feet high at its tallest point.
There is a minimal cost involved in restoring the bridge, McFadden said.
"It's a part of YSU's forgotten history, and it's only appropriate that we try to return it to its original grandeur and share it with today's generation of students, faculty, staff and friends of the university," he said.
The bridge is between the library and Wick Avenue, and was once part of the driveway to the Henry C. Wick Mansion on Wick Avenue. Officials don't know how old the bridge is, but photographs in YSU yearbooks from the 1930s show students sitting and walking across it.
"I've talked to couples who were engaged on this bridge, who met friends on the bridge and who walked across the bridge on their way to Jones Hall for commencement," McFadden said.
At some point in the 1960s, the bottom portion of the bridge was filled with dirt for an undetermined reason, leaving only a few inches of the stone top above ground, McFadden said.
"As YSU prepares to bridge another century, it's only appropriate that we work to restore and celebrate this campus landmark," said David C. Sweet, the university's president.