Preservation, Road Trips

The bridge on Holliday Road

At the bridge on Holliday Road

I pass Holliday Road every time I follow the Michigan Road north out of Indianapolis. For a long time a giant Bridge Out sign blocked the road. When the sign disappeared in 2009, I figured that an old bridge back there had been replaced. So I visited, certainly the finest site about US historic bridges, to see what had once stood there. I was delighted to learn that the bridge, a Pratt through truss bridge built in the 1890s and known as the O’Neal Bridge, had been carefully restored.

Even though the bridge was just 20 minutes from my home, I kept not driving up for a visit. But then the Boone County Historical Society invited me to speak about the Michigan Road in the spring of 2011. When I saw that the meeting location was about a mile from the bridge, I knew my time had come. After the meeting I made my way around to Holliday Road, which was of surprisingly rough gravel, and went to see the old girl.

The bridge on Holliday Road

I don’t know the details of the restoration other than what I could observe, which was two new concrete abutments, a fresh wooden deck, and a coat of red-orange paint. I’m sure much more went into bringing this bridge back to life.

The bridge on Holliday Road

The original latticed railing, or a reasonable facsimile thereof, was even restored.

The bridge on Holliday Road

I wanted to show my sons this great old bridge, and on a lazy early-August Saturday we drove up to see it.

At the bridge on Holliday Road

We climbed down the bank to see under the bridge.

At the bridge on Holliday Road

It seems like governments in most Indiana communities want to replace old bridges, believing it’s less expensive than restoring them. The guys over at say that’s often not the case, but I’m no civil engineer and can’t say for sure. I do know that a truss bridge adds beauty to the view and can be a local landmark and a point of pride. Yet so many have disappeared in my lifetime. I’m just glad folks in Boone County saw fit to restore this one.

I wrote this article in 2011. Now I live in Boone County, but somehow still 20 minutes away! But now, at least, whenever I’m on the Michigan Road I can cut down Holliday Road on my way home.


16 thoughts on “The bridge on Holliday Road

  1. DougD says:

    Good work, I even like the color :)

    Those bolts sure aren’t 1890, one thing I love about old bridges is the hot driven rivets holding everything together.

  2. Jerry says:

    There are stories aplenty going back decades on the internets of this bridge being haunted, if you believe that sort of thing.

  3. These are really nice pictures of a wonderfully simple and elegant bridge. Kudos to those that decided to keep it.

    There’s a great bridge in my town that was left to rot, probably as a strategy for getting replacement approval. The (boring) replacement is nearly finished, after years of delay. Pictures here if interested:

    • Your bridge was quite some contraption! I’m sorry it was demolished. It is a strategy to let an old bridge rot past the point of economical repair. Indianapolis is especially good at that.

  4. What did a lot of these bridges in was that they were too narrow for modern farming equipment to use. I remember many in this area that were removed in the 70’s for that reason.

    • Size and weight. A friend of mine lives in rural Hendricks County near a one-lane concrete bridge over a railroad track. She tells me it was finally replaced with a two-lane bridge simply because farm equipment has grown too heavy for that old bridge.

  5. Jerry says:

    A guy like Jim could kill A LOT of time reading back issues of Boone: Your County magazine. I know I did lol. There must be well over a hundred online.

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