Indiana Landmarks photo

This three-span steel Parker through truss bridge was built in 1939 to carry US 31 across the Wabash River in Peru, Indiana. It recently underwent its first restoration in 30 years, making it ready to serve for decades to come. Indiana Landmarks has the full story here.

I photographed this bridge in 2007 when my old friend Brian and I explored US 31’s original alignments from the Michigan state line to Indianapolis. I documented that road trip here, but these photos show what the bridge looked like then. This is a northbound view.

Old US 31 Bridge, Peru, IN

Here’s the southbound view. Most truss highway bridges were painted green then; light blue is the new standard color.

Old US 31 Bridge, Peru, IN

US 31 was moved to a new alignment bypassing Peru sometime in the 1970s, so this bridge carries only local traffic today. That’s Brian walking along the bridge’s deck, by the way.

Old US 31 Bridge, Peru, IN

I don’t know about you, but my heart soars when I come upon a truss bridge still in use. Their appearance enhances the roadscape; these bridges become local landmarks. Modern concrete steel-stringer bridges offer no distinguishing design characteristics and blend into the scenery. Bully for the people of Peru who get to keep enjoying this bridge.

If you enjoy truss bridges too, watch video of me driving over the last one standing in Indianapolis here.

To get Down the Road in your inbox or reader six days a week, click here to subscribe!
To get my newsletter with previews of what I’m working on, click here to subscribe!


10 responses to “Restored: 1939 steel truss bridge in Peru, Indiana”

  1. DougD Avatar

    Nice bridge, although I think it looks better in the more traditional green.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Yeah, me too. I’m not sure what makes blue the new official color in Indiana. I’ve seen some that were painted in a metal gray, and those looked good too.

  2. Kurt Ingham Avatar
    Kurt Ingham

    So cool!! We don’t do much preservation here in LA-

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      So I hear. Out here in flyover country it’s a bigger deal.

  3. Read.Count.Craft Avatar

    I love the blue! That’s really cool. There’s a place 2 hours away that are the covered white wooden , here in OR. I like looking at them not driving haha. Interesting before and after story.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      We have a lot of wooden covered bridges in Indiana as well. Most of them are in Parke and Putnam Counties.

  4. Marc Beebe Avatar

    Many truss bridges have been replaced entirely because they were found to have sagged over the decades, meaning the truss was now actually adding to the weight being held up by the pylons beneath instead of taking most of the strain. They didn’t quite have the geo-tech back then that they have now, so some locations sunk worse than others and required a new design. Even the modern truss bridges, with their lightweight superstructures, can have problems – like the one in Vancouver that was shedding ice on cars a couple of winters ago.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Assuming the bridges were properly built, regular maintenance will keep them working just fine for a century or more. The challenge has been that so many haven’t been properly maintained.

  5. Karen Bryan Avatar
    Karen Bryan

    Thanks for these photos. I only know of Peru as the birthplace (and also the burial place) of Cole Porter.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I grew up in northern Indiana and we all knew Peru as a circus town. I didn’t learn about the Cole Porter connection until I was an adult!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: