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 bridgehunter.com, 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.
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 original latticed railing, or a reasonable facsimile thereof, was even restored.
I wanted to show my sons this great old bridge, and on a lazy early-August Saturday we drove up to see it.
We climbed down the bank to see under the bridge.
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 bridgehunter.com 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.