Decatur County and some of the surrounding area is the only region in Indiana where a substantial number of stone arch bridges are present. This bridge is one of only a few that are four spans, and was found to be the longest. As such, it stands out as significant. The bridge is unusual since it has no railings, which is not common for a bridge of this length as well as its height above the water.
Information and Findings From DHPA Historic Bridge Survey
Statement of Significance
This bridge follows the conventions used with most of the stone arches built in the state's south-central counties and represents one of the nearly two dozen structures of its kind in Decatur County. One of a handful of four-span, cut-stone, arch structures in the state, it is the longest. The differentiation in span width and rise and the size of the cutwaters also help to make this an especially noteworthy bridge.
Local craftsmen built most of Indiana's stone arches from regional materials just before or in the first fifteen years of the 20th Century. Following a few simple rules of thumb that had evolved since Roman days,
stonemasons erected full-centered or semicircular arches in which the line of pressure passes through the center of each stone in the arch ring until carried vertically into the substructure. Most of the state's stone arches span
streams in south-central counties. With more than two dozen extant, Decatur County built the largest number. By World War I, the growing popularity of concrete, which engineers could readily adjust to the special needs of each
specific bridge site, quietly ended most stone arch construction in the region.
Joseph Mathews won contracts for two stone arch bridges from the Decatur commissioners in February 1904. For the one located two miles west of Burney, Mathews bid $3,176. Merritt Dorsey was named superintendent of construction. In September, the mason drew $1,000 on an estimate of construction, and in October he received the "balance due" of $2,476, which appears to be, in sum, approximately $300 more than the contract called for.
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes
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