Down the Road

Roads and life and how roads are like life

Old Michigan Road photos

12

I recently bought a book that sketches the history of Burlington, Indiana, a town about 20 miles south of Logansport on the Michigan Road. The 1978 book is heavy on photos, light on text. But oh, the photos! I’ve been hoping I’d find some good old photos featuring the road, and this one was so good it about made my heart stop. I only wish the print quality were better.

Southbound Michigan Road leading to Burlington

Southbound Michigan Road leading to Burlington

Notice the covered bridge in the photo. The book says it was demolished in 1919 to make way for a concrete bridge, meaning that this photo is from no later than 1919. It looks to me as though the road surface is dirt or gravel.

This photo is the new bridge under construction. It seems unfathomable today that the Highway Commission would have demolished an existing bridge, thereby closing the road, before building a new one, but that’s just what the book seems to be saying happened. Today, INDOT would probably build the new bridge alongside the old and, upon completion, reroute the road to the new bridge and then demolish the old. The book says that a flood in 1920 destroyed the arch forms that were being built, setting the project back considerably. The new bridge didn’t open until 1923, meaning drivers had to detour for four years.

Wildcat Creek bridge under construction

Wildcat Creek bridge under construction

Here’s the finished bridge. It’s style is typical of what the Indiana Highway Commission was building in those days. Many bridges of this style built around the same time are still in use around the state, such as this one on the National Road in Vigo County.

Wildcat Creek bridge north of Burlington

Wildcat Creek bridge north of Burlington

The book described the 1923 bridge as “narrow,” which certainly isn’t true about the current bridge. This photo shows it; look for the sunlit pavement and the guardrail. Could the 1923 bridge be lurking underneath there? Or was it demolished for a newer bridge?

Northbound, Burlington

12 thoughts on “Old Michigan Road photos

  1. jim gutknecht

    AH, the old 1 lane bridge north of rochester. I was beginning to think I was the only 1 who remembered it. My great uncle was in a head on crash on the bridge in the fog that left him paralized. He once told me he could smell the gasolene for the rest of his life. Yes, I think ther abutment is from the old bridge. It was still in use when i was a kid. I have tried everywhere i know to find some pictures of it. It seems long forgotten. jim

  2. Jim Post author

    Jim, my dad used to call that bridge a “pain in the pratt” because you’d have to sit and wait at the light at either end. Hard to believe that bridge lasted until the early 1980s. As your uncle sadly learned, it was an accident waiting to happen.

  3. hoosier reborn

    Nice find with the Burlington book. The newer bridge looks like a Luten, like Plymouth’s. Possible the superstructure is underneath.

  4. Jim Post author

    HR, the understructure of this bridge looks a lot like that of the bridge in Plymouth. One of these days when I drive through Burlington, I need to stop and see if I can walk along the river bank to see what’s under there.

  5. Tammy

    This weekend September 17-September 21 is the best time to take a drive through Burlington, as they will be celebrating their annual Fall Festival. What a great time to see this wonderful community that I grew up in.

  6. corey

    you can get under the bridge at any time. in fact a site has been done on the North West side of the road for canoes to enter water. i thought it was funny that the last picture here of the current road was taken very close to my home!

  7. Jim Post author

    Yes, Corey, there I was standing out in the middle of the highway near your house taking pics of the road! I did stop at the bridge a couple weeks ago and walk down the hill (on the southeast side) to see that it is all modern, an unremarkable structure.

  8. corey

    Jim. next time your inthe area give me a yell on here and i can show you some of the high points and historical facts on the bridge

  9. Russell Rein aka ypsi-slim

    Jim – What is the name, author, publisher of this book? If this bridge is on IN 29 then this too is the Dixie Highway (Western Branch) in Indiana.

  10. Jim Post author

    Russell, it’s called “Our Town Then – Now” a staple-bound book published for Burlington’s 150th anniversary in 1978. It was printed specially for the celebration and has presumably been out of print since then. I found mine on eBay and I have seen a couple pop up there since. Search on “Burlington, Indiana.”

  11. Patrick

    Jim, great find for me. Was wondering if you had any more info on the “Michigan Road”?
    I’d love to hear from you.
    Thanks,
    Patrick

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