What began as a maintenance project on a pedestrian bridge at a park in Hendricks County, Indiana, has turned into an admiration of something that I had never really paid much attention to in the past -- the historic bridges of Hendricks County.
A few years ago, there was a problem with the decking on the historic truss bridge at McCloud Nature Park just outside of North Salem. The wooden decking used when the bridge was installed in the park in 2010 had warped and buckled over the handful of years that it had spent out in the weather, and it needed to be replaced. I work for Hendricks County Parks & Recreation, which operates McCloud Nature Park, so I was involved in examining the bridge, top to bottom, to identify a solution to our problem.
As I researched how the bridge was assembled and helped determine the safest way to replace the decking, I found some interesting information about the history of the bridge. That led me to start noticing other historic bridges around Hendricks County and do a little research on them.
Turns out, we have some really cool old bridges here! Here are a few of my favorites and a little bit of information about them, in no particular order.
McCloud Nature Park Truss Bridge
Let's begin with the bridge that started it all for me: the truss bridge at McCloud Nature Park. Spanning 120 feet, this Warren truss bridge used to cross the Big Monon Ditch in Pulaski County, Ind., allowing for vehicular traffic.
Built in 1913, Pulaski County Bridge #15 (also known as the Big Monon Ditch Bridge) was closed roughly 50 years ago. It was disassembled in 2006, but Hendricks County Parks & Recreation salvaged it, restored it and reassembled it over Big Walnut Creek in 2009 and 2010.
It now serves as a pedestrian bridge -- with its wood decking replaced in 2018 by Hendricks County Parks & Recreation's maintenance crew -- and iconic feature of the park.
On the western border of McCloud Nature Park, the Barnard Bridge -- also known as Putnam County Bridge #45 or Hendricks County Bridge #264 -- carries vehicles across Big Walnut Creek along the Hendricks-Putnam County Line.
This steel Pratt truss bridge, built in 1915, spans about 140 feet. It closed for awhile in 2019 and 2020 but was reopened in 2021 after some maintenance was completed.
These twin bridges in Danville are anything but identical. Hendricks County Bridge #178 is a Baltimore truss bridge that spans about 150 feet across White Lick Creek.
Built in 1886, it's believed to be one of only three Baltimore truss bridges left standing in Indiana. The bridge carried vehicular traffic directly under an iron railroad bridge until 1906 when the railroad bridge was replaced by a concrete deck arch bridge with an open spandrel that runs parallel to the metal truss bridge. This makes the concrete bridge and the truss bridge "twins."
The truss bridge went out of service when the road it was on was relocated, but it was refurbished in 2008 as a pedestrian bridge. The concrete railroad bridge is still in use by CSX.
- Baltimore truss bridge built in 1886
- Concrete deck arch bridge built in 1906
- Click here for more information
This concrete arch bridge with an open spandrel stretches 290 feet over County Road 625 East, White Lick Creek and Washington Township Park in Avon. It was built in 1907 and rehabilitated in 1998. It remains in use by CSX.
People often honk their horns when driving under this bridge. Why? Well, because it's rumored to be haunted. It's not entirely clear why it's haunted, but as with most Halloween stories, it involves someone dying and strange noises being heard from time to time as a result.
- Built in 1907
- Concrete arch bridge
- Click here for more information about the bridge
- Click here for more information about the Legend of the Haunted Bridge
Broyles Road Bridge
The Broyles Road Bridge in Avon, also known as the Old 36 Bridge and the Old Rockville Road Bridge, is the oldest Whipple truss bridge in Indiana.
Built in 1875, it stretches over White Lick Creek in Washington Township Park. It has been converted to a pedestrian bridge that remains open for use.
Friendship Gardens Bridge
Hendricks County Bridge #216, better known as Friendship Gardens Bridge, is a 172-foot-long pin-connected Warren truss bridge that traverses White Lick Creek in Plainfield's Friendship Gardens.
Built in 1886, this bridge originally crossed White Lick Creek on County Road 800 South in Hendricks County until it was relocated to Friendship Gardens after it was replaced in 1995. It is the oldest Warren truss bridge in Indiana, and it's unusual in the fact that it is pin-connected. Most Warren truss bridges are connected by rivets.
It is believed to be one of only two pin-connected Warren truss bridges left in Indiana. Its ornate decorations are also unusual among bridges.