A new home for the Houck Iron Bridge

One warm summer Saturday in 2010, my frequent road-trip companion Dawn and I visited as many of the old bridges in Putnam County, Indiana, as we could. We ran out of daylight as we explored the 17th bridge; we had at least five more on our list that we promised ourselves we’d visit another day. That day hasn’t come yet. But the 17 bridges we did visit are documented on this blog. Read about the steel and iron truss bridges, and also about the wooden covered bridges, that we found there.

On that trip we visited the Houck Iron Bridge, a pinned Pratt through truss bridge built in 1913 (or 1920; authorities disagree).

The Houck Iron Bridgw

It looked to us like this bridge had been closed to traffic for quite some time. The road leading to it on either end was overgrown.

The Houck Iron Bridgw

This bridge might look like it’s in the middle of nowhere, but it stands just a mile north of Greencastle on County Road 25, also known as Houck Road.

The Houck Iron Bridgw

Did I say it stands? Well, that’s not true anymore. A few months ago, it was removed and disassembled. The pieces were loaded onto four long trailers and transported 75 miles north to Delphi, a small town on the Wabash River and the Wabash and Erie Canal in Carroll County, where it will be restored and erected on a pedestrian trail at the Wabash and Erie Canal Park there.

Courtesy Carroll County Wabash & Erie Canal, Inc.

The people in Delphi have done an astonishingly good job honoring their transportation heritage. The Wabash and Erie Canal Park is the centerpiece of that effort and is a true gem. I’ve been to the park twice and both times came away very impressed that a town of about 3,000 residents could put together something of that caliber. Now that I know the Houck Iron Bridge is there, I have another reason to visit. Restoration of the parts should take about a year, and then the bridge will be reassembled in its new location. With any luck I’ll be able to visit Delphi while the work is underway, but will make a point of returning when the bridge is finished so I can share photos with you.

I love truss bridges. They’re art in steel.


10 responses to “A new home for the Houck Iron Bridge”

  1. Lone Primate Avatar
    Lone Primate

    What a gorgeous bridge! Do you know if it was a road bridge or a railroad bridge? Looks like it could have been either.

    Not sure how I feel about them moving it. It looked beautiful where it was. I can’t imagine it’s that much cheaper to move something like that than just to put up a modern steel and aluminum frame for pedestrians these days (I could be wrong; I have no idea). On the other hand, if it’ll give a good-looking bridge more acclaim and use, rather than rotting away somewhere or being torn down as a risk to the public, well, that’s a good thing.

    Though there’s something to be said for coming across a sad, beautiful old relic in the woods, too. See? I’m all over the map on this one.

    Wonderful shots, though, no matter what. :)

    1. Jim Avatar

      This is a road bridge. While I would have been happier if Putnam County had done whatever repairs were needed and reopened this bridge to traffic, unfortunately that county doesn’t seem to have the funds for such things. So all things equal I think repurposing this bridge for a trail is a good outcome. The folks in Delphi are going for a historic vibe, so a new bridge on the trail would simply not do!

  2. vanilla Avatar

    As usual, Jim, great pictures. I shall have to roll over to Delphi ere long.

    1. Jim Avatar

      It’s worth the trip. Delphi is a nice little town.

  3. dennyg Avatar

    It’s always good to see a bridge get saved. I’ve passed somewhat near by Delphi on both side (Lafayette & Logansport) but not through the town itself. Look like quite an interesting place and I’ve added it to my to-do list.

    1. Jim Avatar

      Yes, next time you’re in the area, do stop in Delphi. It’s a great little town.

  4. Tori Nelson Avatar

    Woo! Got a little nervous when I saw the pieces-of-bridge pic all disassembled. It’s too cool of a structure to not be restored!

    1. Jim Avatar

      Here’s hoping they labeled the pieces! It’s like a giant Erector set.

  5. Ted Kappes Avatar

    Nice to see that there is some effort to save some of these bridges. Around here the increasing wide farm equipment doomed most of these bridge. Some were still in good shape, however monster tractors and combines couldn’t fit through them.

    1. Jim Avatar

      Wide farm equipment creates problems for bridges here, too. I’m sure that’s a cause of some of our old truss bridges being removed.

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