Bridge over Cagle Mill Lake

Bridge over Cagles Mill Lake
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This beautiful open-spandrel concrete-arch bridge is out in the middle of nowhere, in Owen County, Indiana. It carries State Road 42 over Cagles Mill Lake (also known as Cataract Lake), which was created in 1953 as the state’s first flood-control reservoir. Mill Creek was dammed at Cagles Mill, creating the reservoir.

I visited this bridge and made this photograph in 2008 when I toured State Road 42 from end to end. I was still new to my road-trip hobby, and at the time I stopped for every bridge to see if I could clamber down the bank to find what kind of bridge it was, and photograph it.

It was sheer joy to discover what beauty lie beneath the deck, which is the only part motorists get to see as they pass over. In this case, my joy was doubled as a restoration had clearly recently been completed. Everything looked fresh and new.

According to, this bridge was built in 1951, two years before the dam was built to create the lake. State Road 42 was moved from a more northerly route to cross this new bridge. I’ve studied Google Maps and think I might see where the new route diverges from the old east of the bridge. But I can’t figure out anything else about the old route, which certainly went right through where the lake is now. If you’d like to try to figure it out yourself, click here to see the bridge’s location on Google Maps.

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11 responses to “single frame: Bridge over Cagles Mill Lake”

  1. Gerald Greenwood Avatar

    That’s a real beauty. And nicely shot, too.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I really appreciate that compliment because in 2008, when I made the photo, I still had so much to learn about composition. I remember being on this bank noticing a boat in the water, and wishing I could be on the boat for a straight-on shot of the bridge. But now I think I prefer this angle.

  2. Dan Cluley Avatar
    Dan Cluley

    That is a great bridge. I’m surprised about the construction date, that style seems more common several decades earlier.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Agreed. I bet the length of this span drove them to this style. The longer the span the more challenging the engineering, and I wonder if even as late as 1951 they had to turn to suspension bridges and big concrete arches to cover spans this long.

  3. Rich Arland Avatar

    Great shot, James. I love bridges, old barns, even older rusty farm implements. Carry on, Brother!
    Happy Holidays

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks Rich! Old bridges are my jam.

  4. Read.Count.Craft Avatar

    that is a beautiful shot of a beautiful bridge! I can’t believe it’s old!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      68 years!

  5. Cameron Miller Avatar
    Cameron Miller

    I can’t resist an opportunity to discover an old alignment, so I found very nice pictorial evidence of IND 42’s earlier routing on The images for 1951 and earlier show a bridge over Mill Creek that, according to the shadows, appears to be a covered bridge — presumably Croy’s Mill Covered Bridge., one of your favorite sites, I suspect, shows the location of Croy’s Mill Bridge on its map viewer, but it is not correct, as Croy’s Mill Bridge was located northwest of the new bridge.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Oh cool. I love but didn’t know this record for the former bridge existed. I’ll have to check historicaerials one day to find the old alignment.

  6. […] via single frame: Bridge over Cagles Mill Lake โ€” Down the Road […]

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