Road Trips

It’s always a good day when I get to drive across the Astronaut David Wolf Bridge!

I originally published this post in 2013. This year I started a job in a building right by this bridge, so I drive over it frequently. It made me want to dust this post off and share it again.

It is the last steel truss bridge in Marion County (Indianapolis), Indiana, and it’s named after one of Indy’s most famous sons, Astronaut David Wolf. And I love to drive over it!

DavidWolf
David Wolf

The Astronaut. David Wolf was born and raised in Indianapolis, got his undergraduate degree at Purdue University, and earned a medical degree from Indiana University. He then became a flight surgeon in the United States Air Force. Soon he joined the Johnson Space Center in Houston and later the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where was selected to become an astronaut. He’s since spent more than 168 days in space.

True story: My first wife was a photographer in the Indiana Air National Guard when I met her, and had a framed, autographed head shot of David Wolf. The inscription read something like, “To the best photographer I know.” She took the photograph! (That’s not her photograph at right.)

The Bridge. It is a two-span riveted Parker through truss bridge with Warren pony approach trusses on either end. The Indiana State Highway Commission built it in 1941 to carry State Road 100; back then, this was way out in the sticks. But since then the city sprawled out this far, and later the state relinquished the road and the bridge to the city. Remarkably, the city has stepped up to maintain this bridge (it hasn’t with other former highway bridges, such as this one). When it widened the road to four lanes in the late 1980s, it built a new neighboring bridge to carry westbound traffic and routed eastbound traffic over the old trusses. The city carefully restored this bridge in 2008. It carries more than 40,000 cars across the White River every day!

Because this bridge is so long (547.8 feet) and is tightly hemmed in by strip malls on all sides, it is difficult to photograph. I’ve never found a place to stand were I can fit the whole thing inside my lens. Here’s the western Parker truss.

The Astronaut David Wolf Bridge

The Drive. This bridge and I both live in the same township, and it’s between me and major shopping, so I’m out this way frequently enough. It always lifts my spirits to drive over it. I love watching it come into view and then experiencing the truss shadows as I drive through them. Here, experience it with me!

Is it silly of me that every time I drive over this great bridge, I exclaim, “It’s always a good day when I get to drive across the Astronaut David Wolf Bridge!”? Never mind, don’t tell me. I’m cool with being silly.

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15 thoughts on “It’s always a good day when I get to drive across the Astronaut David Wolf Bridge!

  1. I drive over this one fairly frequently as well. I don’t have anything I always say when I do, but I think it’s cool just the same. I even enjoy the old girl as I pass right next to it when driving the other way.

    I was also pleasantly surprised when it was incorporated into the rebuilt road. It being paired with a modern flat bridge for the two westbound lanes sort of offends my sense of symmetry, but I’m OK with that.

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  2. DougD says:

    I am slightly disappointed that you didn’t say it in the video, although the music was sprightly. Cool that the bridge has two different truss designs.

    In Toronto there is a main street named Strachan Ave where the main highway often bunches up during rush hour. CBC news pronounces it like “Strahn”. 20 years ago a very Scottish co-worker told me (with strong Scottish burr) “It’s not Strahn, it’s bloody Strackan!” so whenever I’m driving home and they say “and the Gardiner Expressway is slow near Strahn” I shout (with strong Scottish burr) “It’s not Strahn, it’s bloody Strackan!”

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  3. analogphotobug says:

    Try taking two shots that overlap by about 30%. Then try a Photomerge to make a panorama.

    Space exploration was an heroic age. Growing up in Ohio, I really loved seeing “first Man’. Helped me to understand one of my heroes, Neil Armstrong, better.

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    • I’ve done that with other subjects — it’s very cool how it works. Here’s the Ohio River at Madison, Indiana, overlooking the hills of Kentucky and one very long barge.

      Ohio River at Madison, Indiana

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  4. Scott Bennett says:

    I used to hate truss bridges, thinking they were ugly. But I’ve come to appreciate them as they’ve been disappearing. If there’s a truss bridge in Maine that’s in as good shape as that one, I don’t know about it.

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    • I think I get you. Until probably the early 2000s they were just old bridges, rusty and dented with fading paint. Then someone decided they’re sort of historic and they started being restored. Freshly painted and straightened suddenly they don’t look so bad!

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