Preservation, Road Trips

Restored: 1939 steel truss bridge in Peru, Indiana

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, click here to subscribe!

Standard
Preservation

Being rebuilt: the destroyed 1892 Holliday Road bridge

I’m blown away that it’s happening: the 1892 Pratt through truss bridge on Holliday Road in southeastern Boone County, Indiana, is being rebuilt.

Mark Finch photo

Last we looked in on this bridge, it had just been destroyed by a tractor towing a farm implement too wide for the bridge.

Boone County Sheriff’s Office photo

I’m hearing reports that despite this level of destruction, a surprising amount of the original steel was able to be reused.

Also known as the O’Neal Bridge, it underwent a significant restoration once before, from 2006 to 2009. Here’s a photo I made of it in 2011.

The bridge on Holliday Road

This bridge is on a little-traveled gravel road in a lightly populated part of the county, so it’s hardly a critical transportation link. But as one of just three surviving steel truss bridges in the county, it’s wonderful to see it given one more chance to serve.

To get Down the Road in your inbox or reader, click here to subscribe!

Standard
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.

To get Down the Road in your inbox or reader, click here to subscribe!

Standard
Film Photography, Road Trips

The one-lane bridge on State Road 225

It’s rare to encounter a truss bridge on an Indiana state highway. This one, built in 1912 and carrying only one lane of traffic on State Road 225 in Tippecanoe County, Indiana, is the granddaddy of them all.

Bridge on State Road 225

Known locally as the Jewettsport Ford Bridge, this four-span Pratt through truss bridge stretches 641.6 feet across the Wabash River. It was restored in 1989, at which time the stoplights were placed at either end to control traffic. Before that, crossing this bridge often turned into a game of chicken.

Bridge on State Road 225

SR 225 is a minor highway, spanning just four miles to connect SR 43 in Battle Ground to an old alignment of SR 25, and to provide access to Prophetstown State Park. This highway’s low traffic volume has got to be key to this bridge’s survival.

Pentax ME, 35mm f/2.8 SMC Pentax-A, Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400 (at EI 200)

Click here to get Down the Road in your inbox or reader six days a week!

 

Standard
Preservation, Road Trips

Destroyed: 1892 Holliday Road bridge

The tractor driver said he didn’t know that the attachment he was towing was wider than the bridge. And so the bridge on Holliday Road, near Zionsville in Boone County, Indiana, met its end.

5a2467fd26741.image

Boone County Sheriff’s Office photo

5a2467debf189.image

Boone County Sheriff’s Office photo

It’s a crying shame, because in 2009 this bridge completed a lovely restoration. I told what I know about it here.

The bridge on Holliday Road

There just aren’t many truss bridges left in and near Indianapolis. I visited this one many times since its restoration. It was a lovely, quiet place to stop.

IMG_2834 proc

This bridge looks to me to be damaged beyond repair. But then, so did the 1880 bridge in Paoli that was destroyed by a semi two years ago (story here) — and it reopened this summer. So maybe there’s hope for the bridge on Holliday Road.

 

Standard
Preservation, Road Trips

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.

Like this post? Share it on social media with the buttons below! And subscribe to get more in your inbox or reader six days a week.    Click here to subscribe!
Standard