Preservation, Road Trips

The bridge on Prince William Road

I made two trips to Delphi, a Wabash River town in northern Indiana, in 2010 to promote the Historic Michigan Road Byway. Not only is Delphi a charming small town, but the drive up from Indianapolis is pleasant too, all of it on two-lane US 421.

On my first trip, I noticed two places where a road improbably named Prince William branched off US 421. The way it angled in about four miles south of Delphi, and then back out again just inside Delphi, said to me that Prince William Road was once the primary road, and that this part of US 421 had been built on top of it. I didn’t have time to explore it on the way home on the first trip, but I made sure I had time on the second.

Prince William Road is so named because it once led to the now-extinct town of Prince William, which was named after a son of King George II of England. I guess British royalty fascinated us as much in 1835, when the town was founded, as today. At any rate, the road itself ran flat and straight as it passed by lots of farmland. About five miles in I started to think that maybe this side trip wasn’t going to be all that exciting. But then the road began to run downhill, and as it suddenly curved around this great bridge swung into view.

Bridge on Prince William Road

According to bridgehunter.com, the best historic bridge resource on the Internet, the Indiana Department of Highways built this bridge in 1931 along some other road. Then, for reasons not explained, it was moved it here 1945. It was restored in 2006, and looked as fresh as a daisy on the day I drove by four years later.

Bridge on Prince William Road

Parker through truss bridges like this one were once as common as pennies in Indiana. I’m sure many, many of them were demolished as Indiana improved its highways – these bridges tend to have 20-foot-wide decks, which is narrow by modern standards. Several of them still serve the highways on which they were built, though. I’ve driven over many of them; they always make my day.

Bridge on Prince William Road

And a few, like this one, were saved by being dismantled and reassembled on a country road. If you drive over a bridge just like this one on a state highway, it seems narrow; out here in the middle of nowhere this bridge seems massive. Really, this is a lot more bridge than little Prince William Road needs. But so what? It looks great.

The sun was shining bright this August afternoon and I had my camera with me. I spent a half hour here enjoying and photographing this bridge and the way the sun played through it, casting shadows on the deck.

For me, there’s nothing better than unexpectedly coming upon a great old bridge. One of my favorite finds is this stone bridge on the Michigan Road.

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8 thoughts on “The bridge on Prince William Road

  1. versakay says:

    Such bridges are bridges to the nostalgic past and blessed are those that carefully rehabilitate and relocate them lovingly.

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  2. Lone Primate says:

    I would have thought naming anything after a member of the Royal Family a generation after the War of 1812, south of the Lakes, would have gotten you tarred and feathered. :)

    That is a magnificent bridge, especially with the overhead latticework — and fascinating that it was moved. I’m personally a fan of the little one-lane pony truss bridges that used to proliferate all over southern Ontario, which largely evaporated in the Toronto area in the 50s and 60s… I’m hoping to go see one out by London on the weekend.

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    • Several bridges of this style still exist in Indiana. There used to be way more, but on the more major highways they tended to get demolished as traffic increased. These bridges are narrow by modern standards.

      Here are four more Parker through truss bridges I’ve photographed. Click through to see them larger on Flickr.

      Steel truss bridge near Poland, IN

      Steel truss bridge, Mill Creek

      US 36 Wabash River bridge

      Old US 31 Bridge, Peru, IN

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  3. Rush Rox says:

    In your research you surely noticed that this bridge is called “Xenia”. Many (if not all) of the locals pronounce it like “zany”.

    I spent a great deal of my childhood in Delphi and I’ve explored many unique and interesting out-of-the-way places there. There are a number of other roadgeeky things and historic bridge sites in and around Delphi that I believe would interest you. Check out Wilson Bridge over Deer Creek east of town when you get a chance. Maybe you’ve seen the segment WFYI did on Wilson Bridge in an episode of “Saving Places”?

    These days I reside in Lebanon, an interesting place in its own right, but for me it lacks the luster of my childhood hometown. I’ll not get into it here, but there are some semi-noteworthy old alignments around Delphi – one that you probably wouldn’t divine from a Google Earth image.

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    • Thanks for chiming in! I can tell from Google Maps that many major roads around Delphi have been rerouted. One of these days, I’ll get up there to explore it all thoroughly! Delphi does have an unusual charm among Indiana towns.

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