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.
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.
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.
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.