Goodbye wooden bridge

This bridge no longer exists.

Wooden bridge

Longtime readers might remember that I explored all of the old alignments of US 50 across Indiana in 2010. This wooden bridge, built in about 1920, was on an original alignment of that highway in Jennings County, just west of North Vernon, until it was demolished this month. These photos are from my 2010 trip; read about my encounter with this bridge here.

Wooden bridge

This bridge carried what is now Base Road over CSX railroad tracks. I gather that the old bridge was actually owned by the railroad, and when it needed repairs CSX was slow to get to them, leaving it closed for long periods and making nearby residents go far out of their way to reach their homes. Commissioners in Jennings County weren’t sad to see it go. A new concrete bridge was built about a quarter mile to the east.

This demolition is part of a larger project to build a US 50 bypass around North Vernon. This bridge was near the bypass’s western end.

This bridge was a good example of the kinds of bridges railroad companies built at that time – and one of just a handful left in Indiana.

See photos of North Vernon, including a now-endangered US 50 shield, here.


18 responses to “Goodbye wooden bridge”

  1. gpcox Avatar

    Our last wooden bridge was replaced about 4 years ago – I miss them! They used to add character to an otherwise drab and monotonous neighborhood.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Absolutely. I know the plain concrete bridges being built today are cost effective, but they aren’t very pretty.

  2. dmswriter Avatar

    Those old wooden bridges add such charm to country settings. I know the new concrete bridges are much safer, but there’s something about an old squeaky bridge that just says “country.”

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Let’s drive over as many as we can while they still exist!

  3. Denny Gibson Avatar

    I’m pretty sure that being surprised that it was still standing in 2010 disqualifies me from being surprised that it’s gone in 2013 though I am a little sad. Thanks for sharing the news and thanks for the original post that allowed me to see — and hear — and experience the bridge myself.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      That’s a good perspective – that we got to keep it as long as we did is a bowl full of win.

  4. davidvanilla Avatar

    In agreement that these old things are more interesting than the replacements; still, I prefer driving over the new ones!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Yes, this old bridge creaked and popped heavily with every vehicle that passed over it. The noises did not inspire confidence.

  5. Thestrugglershandbook Avatar

    Judging by the looks of it, it’s probably a good thing there’s only a handful of them left. That was a bridge I would drive very quickly over.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      If you did it eastbound, you’d suddenly find yourself smack in the middle of US 50 and its traffic!!

  6. Bernie Kasper Avatar

    And coming face to face with traffic on 50 can be pretty scary Jim !!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Especially coming airborne of fan old wooden bridge!

  7. Steve Miller Avatar
    Steve Miller

    Used to be a couple notable examples in Bloomington & environs. Your recent drive east on SR 45 would have been enhanced by a drive over the railroad bridge near Unionville. The bridge had an initial section that probably rose by 15%, a flat middle section, and then a descent similar to the approach. This is lost in the mist of time, but memory suggests the overall length of the thing was about double the bridge you’ve pictured here.

    In town, there was another wooden bridge on N. Rogers over rail tracks just south of a severe jog. In essence, you either made a half-block ess, or you plowed into someone’s front yard retaining wall…

    Both these bridges were over Illinois Central tracks. There was supposed to have been a very,very, very long bridge near Unionville, in the vicinity of the back end of Lake Lemon. In fact, an examination of Google maps will show some long cuts made in preparation for the bridge. More sensible heads did prevail, and the tracks were re-routed to the south before bridge erection began.

    Seems to me there was a “Trestle Road” running north-south someplace in that area. Guess there be little work completed in my office this afternoon.

    BTW, IU Bloomington’s master plan document shows SR 45/Tenth Street being re-routed, too. Rather than making two tight turns on Tenth under a badly-decaying concrete bridge*, the road will continue NNW parallel to the rail tracks, eventually terminating into Walnut someplace about today’s 14th or 15th streets.

    *IU’s Campus Bus drivers used to compete to see who could pass under the bridge quickest, fastest, or highest — that’s the driver’s not the busses. It was pretty hard to catch air with a 40′ GM motor coach.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks for all this info. Interesting about the plan for 10th St.

      I’d like to find a Bloomington city map from when 45 and 46 still went through town. I think I know their routes but would like that confirmation.

  8. Lone Primate Avatar
    Lone Primate

    I’m sorry to see you guys lose something iconic like a wooden bridge… scarce commodity in the 21st century. But Jim, you bagged it; you’ve got it on record for the future to see. And that’s something, at least. :)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I figured you’d appreciate that, given your proclivities!

  9. Dianalee Prime Avatar
    Dianalee Prime

    I remember that old bridge and going over it in dad’s pick-up when I was 5 or 6 years old. Now I am 61 living in Wyoming. Glad to see it is still there. We use to go into Wheeler to have breakfast at the diner or to go to the 5 and dime store. Thank you for the memories!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Sadly, the bridge was removed in 2013 as part of a project to build a US 50 bypass around North Vernon. :-(

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