Endangered: 1925 pony truss bridge on southern Indiana’s Dixie Highway

This is one of my favorite old highway bridges. It’s tucked quietly away on a short old alignment of Indiana State Road 37, the old Dixie Highway, just south of Martinsville. Here’s a photo from my first encounter with it, in 2007.

Pony truss bridge

My friend Dawn (standing on the bridge below) and I visited it together one autumn morning in 2012. We saw few cars here, as modern SR 37 bears the traffic burden just 500 feet to the west.

Pony trusses

But on our return visit a few weeks ago, we found that this bridge no longer carried cars at all. I’ve known for a couple years that the bridge had been closed, but nevertheless it saddened me greatly to see it.

Abandoned bridge on Old SR 37

It’s remarkable, isn’t it, how quickly nature begins to reclaim our built environment when it is no longer used and maintained?

Abandoned bridge on Old SR 37

Not that this bridge had received very much maintenance in its later years. At its last inspection, its superstructure was rated in Serious condition and its substructure in Poor condition. That was enough to see it immediately closed to traffic.

Abandoned bridge on Old SR 37

She does look a little battered. But I’ve seen bridges in worse apparent condition still carrying traffic. What do I know? I’m no civil engineer.

Abandoned bridge on Old SR 37

I’ve read that this bridge is slated for replacement, but I’m not sure I believe it. The only properties on this mile-long old alignment are south of the bridge, and all anyone has to do to reach them is enter the alignment at its south end.

Abandoned bridge on Old SR 37

The north end of this old alignment is likely to be dead ended when the current project converting SR 37 into I-69 is complete. At least, that’s how I read the plan maps.

Abandoned bridge on Old SR 37

If so, here’s hoping this old bridge can simply be left in place as a reminder of a highway era long since gone by.

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6 responses to “Endangered: 1925 pony truss bridge on southern Indiana’s Dixie Highway”

  1. Nancy Stewart Avatar
    Nancy Stewart

    I think about how happy people probably were to have that nice new bridge back in 1925, and how many generations of cars ( and people ) have crossed over it over all those years …. and now it seems to be forgotten by most. Would be nice for a walking trail although I’m a little leary of going on one of those anymore with times the way they are.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I think the SR 37 expressway opened in the 1970s, so this bridge carried major traffic for a good long while. The first couple times I visited it, before it closed, it still saw a fair amount of traffic as this road connects to a lot of farmland and it was a major way people reached their land. They have to go in now from the other end of this old alignment.

      This bridge is still open to pedestrians, especially bicyclists. I dunno, crime is lower now than at any time during my life. I’d bike out here. Walking is a different matter — it’s a long, long walk from here to anywhere!

  2. DougD Avatar

    Ever read the Peter Egan article “The Bridge at Leedles Mill”?

    I think I’ve got that one around somewhere , I’ll scan it and send you a PDF

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Nope – new one to me! Look forward to the PDF.

  3. Rhianne (@forthedistractd) Avatar

    Wow the change is quite stunning! I’m quite drawn to run down and overgrown at the moment though, so the second set of photos I find quite compelling, especially against the lines of the bridges design.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Abandoned places are very cool if for no other reason than things get overgrown. But coming upon this particular scene made me sad simply because I remember when this bridge still carried traffic.

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