Driving across the Chicago Skyway Bridge Olympus XA Kodak T-Max 400 2020
I barely slept the last night we were in Chicago. So I handed my car keys to Margaret. It gave me this lovely opportunity to photograph the Chicago Skyway Bridge while we were crossing it.
This bridge, built in 1958, carries the Chicago Skyway, also known as I-90, across the Calumet River. At the end of the Skyway, eastbound, is Indiana. This is a toll bridge, but thanks to my EZPass transponder I have no idea what the charge is. I just add some money to my account before we go and let the EZPass pay the toll.
It was midmorning Monday. Traffic was light. For a moment, it looked like we had this busy bridge all to ourselves.
Shadow play on the old truss bridge Canon PowerShot S80 2010
I love driving under a truss bridge on a sunny day. You can almost feel the truss shadows as you move through them.
Indiana has done a very nice job of reusing many of its obsolete highway truss bridges. This is one of them. You’ll find it on a country road in Carroll County, Indiana. At the time I came upon it, it had clearly recently been restored.
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.
Here’s the southbound view. Most truss highway bridges were painted green then; light blue is the new standard color.
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.
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.
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.
Last we looked in on this bridge, it had just been destroyed by a tractor towing a farm implement too wide for the bridge.
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.
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.
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!
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 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.
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.
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.
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.