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.
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.
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.
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?
I’ve documented Indiana’s historic Michigan Road extensively. To read all about it, click here.
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