12 September 2008

Historic Bridges of Plymouth

A few years back my involvement in some downtown redevelopment work in Plymouth led me to an interesting discovery. Plymouth has several historic bridges....kinda like Madison County. While you might not think of Plymouth as a river town, the Yellow River, or "Wythougan" in Native American tongue-meaning "yellow waters", meanders through the little city of 10,000.

It wasn't until I went on a canoe trip down the Yellow that I truly realized the coolness of the concrete arched bridges........so here we go......pretend you're on a float trip, feet hanging over the side.......down the river and enjoy.
The first bridge (from north to south, with the flow) is the Jefferson Street/Lincoln Highway Bridge. The double span, filled concrete arched bridge was constructed in 1927 once the final route was chosen for the new Lincoln Highway alignment through Marshall County/Plymouth. While renovations in the 1980's widened the deck and changed the handrails to standard highway design, the historic superstructure is still in place and is begging for restoration.


The next bridge is the Garro Street Bridge. Constructed about 1920, it also is a double span, filled concrete arched bridge but is unusual because of its angle across the river. The original concrete railings still exist on this bridge, as no renovation work was ever made, except to remove some remarkable metal light fixtures at the four corners. I believe refurbishment is in the near future....let's hope the lights come back.

The third bridge is the National Register listed LaPorte Street Footbridge. Constructed in 1898 and fabricated by the Rochester (Indiana) Bridge Company, this bridge is a metal cantilever structure with piers at the banks. Only one other bridge like this exists in the state, in Winamac. I also happened to have proposed to my wife on this bridge.......


Luten Bridge, ca. 1918

Luten Bridge, prior to restoration


The fourth bridge was constructed between 1916-1917 and has the distinction of being a Daniel Luten concrete bridge. Luten was an engineering professor in Indiana who patented his concrete bridge designs that quickly made him famous across the country. The Luten Bridge is the Michigan Street bridge and was constructed in place of the early metal Michigan Road bridge, probably in keeping with the construction of the Yellowstone Trail following the alignment and bringing additional vehicular traffic across the bridge. This bridge was renovated in the 1970's. widening the deck and removing the historic handrails. This year the bridge was restored with handrails sympathetic to the original design being installed, along with the new addition of light fixtures.







The fifth bridge to cross the Yellow River is the Pennsylvania Railroad Bridge produced by the American Bridge Company of New York in 1902. This may be my favorite. The massive steel bridge is one of the earliest Pratt pony style truss designed bridges in Indiana. It is set on massive limestone abutments and is a marvel to walk under along the bank of the river.










Another noteworthy bridge is the Pennsylvania Railroad/Michigan Street viaduct constructed about 1900. This is one of the more identifiable Plymouth landmarks. The steel pony plate girder truss style bridge crosses Michigan Street just south of the Yellow River and rests on massive limestone abutments and center pier. A train once derailed at this location sending rail cars over the north side of the rail to the street below. What would become known as the Pennsylvania Railroad was constructed through Plymouth in 1856. Two other 1900 pony plate girder truss bridges are also located in Plymouth along this rail line. So if you're keeping track-that's 8 historic bridges....not bad for a little town.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

will you be adding Bridge Over Troubled Waters to you playlist??

hoosier reborn said...

Yellow River: troubled waters indeed!

jimgrey said...

It's unusual to find angled bridges from earlier than, eh, maybe 1950. They were harder to build and tended to require more maintenance. I can't tell you how many old highways I've driven where there was a jog that allowed the road to cross a river or creek squarely.

Puma said...

the brigde is shorter if it crosses perpendicular to the stream and thus cheaper to build also!

hoosier reborn said...

c'mon Puma, you've got to get a blog up and running. I imagine today it would depend on the cost of land vs. laying in a bridge at an angle. Regardless, I hope river city can maintian its historic bridge flavor-and celebrate it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this great review of these historical structures. Millions of memories have been made on "the bridges across the river" being both significant to history as well as life changing for those individuals in the process of living lifes' events. Almost anyone you talk to has a story to recount of their memories on a bridge. Don't let your memories fade due to disrepair! Just like city trees, city sidewalks and city parks; river bridges should be maintained and restored as required by the government process which we pay our taxes to support. Thanks for your support for these memories...