Monday, May 23, 2011

Plymouth: Bridge City

Part 2 in the series on Plymouth's historic bridges

The second phase of bridge construction employed new technology developed at the close of the 19th Century. Concrete cast into arched forms provided a modern approach to traversing the Yellow River.

Jefferson Street/Lincoln Highway Bridge, 1927
Type: Filled-spandrel two-arch; skewed. In 1987 a cantilevered deck was installed and the project removed rails and lampposts. The original engineer is unknown.
The new alignment’s path (1928) of the Lincoln Highway in Indiana was fully decided except for the path it would take through the City of Plymouth. There were two sides lobbying for their own path the highway would take. Ultimately the state told Marshall County if they could not decide, it would be decided for them and a deadline was given. Several meetings followed until the night before the deadline and in packed chambers at the high school, both sides presented their case for their preferred path. The two choices were between the downtown, using Pennsylvania Avenue, or Jefferson Street. The City and downtown businessmen lobbied for the downtown route, while others preferred Jefferson Street. If the Jefferson Street route was chosen, a new bridge would have to be constructed over the Yellow River. If the downtown route was chosen, the highway could use the new Garro Street Bridge. Ultimately the group promoting the use of Jefferson Street won because they were able to show that even with the construction of a new bridge, their path would be less expensive to construct. The new Jefferson Street/Lincoln Highway Bridge was constructed between 1927-1928 for the sole purpose of the new alignment of the Lincoln Highway.
Garro Street Bridge, 1919
Type: Filled spandrel two-arch; skewed with triangular cutwater and paneled pier pilaster, National Concrete Company, builders
The concrete bridge was constructed at the river crossing of one of Plymouth’s most important cross streets. It retains significant integrity despite the loss of its ornate streetlights mounted at each corner. Arched concrete bridges of this period were constructed using wood planks as the underside of the bridge form. The plank and wood grain marks can still be seen in the concrete under the arches.

Michigan Street Bridge, 1917
Type: Filled spandrel two-arch; Daniel Luten, engineer
The bridge forms the southern terminus of the Plymouth Downtown Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. The bridge was restored in 2007 with handrails sympathetic to the original design with the added feature of lampposts in the style of the historic residential areas of Michigan Street. Daniel Luten was a world-renown concrete bridge engineer and created some of the most spectacular spans in the United States. He taught engineering at Purdue University. The current bridge replaced an early steel truss bridge; the original drawings for the steel bridge are located at the Marshall County Museum. The Marshall County Commissioners restored the bridge in 2007.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Plymouth: Bridge City

Part 1 of a 2 part series on the Historic Bridges of Plymouth
Most people wouldn't think of Plymouth as a city of bridges, but indeed with the meandering nature of the Yellow River and the route of the former Pennsylvania Railroad through the city, bridges were a very important part of a transportation plan even when the city was a mere town of a few thousand souls. There are six historic bridges in the City of Plymouth, three are steel and date to an earlier period of time, the other three are concrete. The following are those fabricated in steel:

LaPorte Street Footbridge, 1898
Type: Steel suspension bridge, Rochester Bridge Company, builder
The bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of only three historic footbridges in the State of Indiana. All three are suspension bridges, meaning that the deck, or walkway, is suspended by cabling to the end piers. The other two bridges are newer and were part of the New Deal projects in Turkey Run State Park and Winamac. The Rochester Bridge Company operated out of Rochester, Indiana and was a prolific bridge fabrication plant for the Midwest.

Pennsylvania Railroad Viaduct, c. 1900
Type: Pony plate girder truss with two spans on rusticated limestone abutments and center pier. About 1995 the railroad covered the center pier with concrete.
When the Pennsylvania Railroad first came through Northern Indiana in 1856 its route through Plymouth crossed the historic Michigan Road with little problem. But as Michigan Street became more traveled it is believed the railroad created an earlier viaduct which then was expanded in about 1900 to accommodate two sets of tracks. Close examination of the stone abutments show various symbols indicating to builders how to construct the abutments, as well as the difference between the earlier stone used for the original abutment and the 1900 construction.

Pennsylvania Railroad Bridge, 1902
Type: Eight panel full-hip Pratt pony truss style metal bridge on rusticated limestone abutments, American Bridge Company of New York, builder
In James Cooper’s Historic Metal Bridge Inventory, it states this bridge is among the earliest examples of the Pratt pony span built on Indiana’s rail system that still exists and references the heavy members designed for unusual load-bearing capabilities. As part of the city’s greenway plans a canoe portage will be located below the bridge on the sandy shore of the Yellow River. James Cooper is a professor at Ball State University and is considered the leading authority on Indiana bridges.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Bremen Depot Rededicated

This is the last in a series about the Bremen B&O Depot that was rededicated on May 1st under sunny skies with the Bremen Band playing to a crowd of over 120 well-wishers.

The Bremen depot was located on one of several historical railroads in Marshall County. These include the Pennsylvania Railroad (or Pittsburg-Ft. Wayne-Chicago) that runs east/west through the center of the county through the communities of Bourbon, Inwood, Plymouth, and Donaldson. The Vandalia Railroad and the former Nickel Plate Railroad (or Lake Erie-Western) also were located in the county and essentially ran north/south through the communities of Argos, Plymouth, and Tyner (Nickel Plate) and Culver, Plymouth, and LaPaz (Vandalia). Another east/west railroad (New York-Chicago-St. Louis) is located in the southern part of the county and goes through the communities of Tippecanoe, Argos, and Burr Oak. The railroad also went through a number of small railroad villages that never developed full railroad stations.

Bremen’s depot is one of only four train depots that remain in Marshall County. The Pennsylvania Station and Nickel Plate Depot both exist in Plymouth. The Pennsylvania Station is a brick building constructed in 1914 and the Nickel Plate Depot was constructed in 1889 in the Stick Style. Both of these buildings are used for railroad storage and unfortunately are in deteriorating condition. Culver’s Vandalia Railroad Station was constructed in about 1925. It has been converted to a meeting hall for the Culver Lions organization. The other county’s depots, most of them small wooden structures, have been demolished.

In 1914 there were 123 depots on the three B&O lines through Indiana; the number had dropped to 27 by 1986. About the same time there were only 11 depots remaining on the Chicago (Bremen) line of the B&O. The B&O Railroad constructed wood depots in LaPaz and Teegarden west of Bremen in Marshall County; these no longer exist. West of Marshall County the B&O Railroad constructed wood depots in Walkerton, Miller and other smaller communities prior to the rails’ junction with the Grand Trunk leading into Chicago. Only the Miller depot, constructed in 1910, exists; it has been renovated and is in use as a restaurant. Gary’s Union Station, a large Classical Revival building, was constructed by the B&O in 1910 and remains today.

East of Bremen the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad constructed a depot in Nappanee in 1910 and remains an active passenger station. East of Nappanee the next B&O town was Syracuse. It retains its historic depot that was constructed in 1913 in much the same style as Nappanee’s depot; it is in deteriorating condition. East of Syracuse a wood depot was constructed in Wawasee in 1908; it was relocated to Benton, IN. East of Wawasee only two other B&O depots remain in Indiana. One is in Garrett, a town founded by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and named for its president; the building is the railroad’s freight depot constructed as a simple side gabled building in about 1910. The other is the Auburn Junction Depot that was constructed about the time the B&O Railroad was constructed through Indiana, in 1874. It was built in the Italianate style and relocated from its original site. Most of the remaining B&O depots in Indiana date to the infrastructure improvements between 1910 and 1917; Bremen’s construction in 1929 came considerably later.

Many congratulations to the folks in Bremen and with Historic Bremen, Inc. for the restoration of yet another Marshall County landmark.