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Black River Bridge

Posey County Bridge 53

Black River Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: November 2, 2013

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Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Griffin Road Over Black River
Rural: Posey County, Indiana: United States
Structure Type
Metal 10 Panel Pin-Connected Camelback Through Truss, Fixed and Approach Spans: Metal Through Girder, Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1892 By Builder/Contractor: Toledo Bridge Company of Toledo, Ohio (Former Smith Bridge Company of Toledo, Ohio)
Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
165.0 Feet (50.3 Meters)
Structure Length
242.0 Feet (73.8 Meters)
Roadway Width
16.7 Feet (5.09 Meters)
1 Main Span(s) and 2 Approach Span(s)
Inventory Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

View Archived National Bridge Inventory Report - Has Additional Details and Evaluation

This bridge has a number of unusual details. Although it is located in the middle of nowhere crossing a small, unremarkable river, the bridge has a plaque on the portal bracing proudly proclaiming it the "Black River Bridge." Bridges of this age rarely would have a title or name plaque. Plaques usually only had the bridge builder and county commissioners listed; on this bridge that information is relegated to less-visible plaques mounted on the end posts. It is not known why this bridge's name is so prominently noted.

The bridge also has some unusual structural details. The bridge is in general a Camelback truss (which is a five-sloped Parker truss) except for the center panel which is subdivided like a Pennsylvania truss. The remaining panels are not subdivided however so its more a Camelback than Pennsylvania. The other unusual detail is the sway bracing. Its composition is unusual and somewhat elaborate for a bridge of this size, with built-up beams forming the struts, with v-lacing on the top and bottom, and diagonal members that include turnbuckles.

The bridge also includes a through plate girder approach span at each end. The girders do not play a structural role anymore because stringers and wooden bents were added to carry the load. This is why the National Bridge Inventory lists the approach spans as four steel stringer spans.

Information and Findings From DHPA Historic Bridge Survey

Statement of Significance

The only known Camelback built by this prolific Ohio firm, the Black River Bridge is the oldest extant structure of this truss type in Indiana and appears to retain its original members. The small number of central panels and the treatment of them are most unusual. The pierced nameplate and the latticed portal illustrate the builder's attention to artistic detail on structural and non-structural elements of the bridge. bridge nameplate. Legeay, Inc., Bridge Inspection Report: Posey County (Evansville, 1974). Posey County Interim Report: Indiana Historic Sites and Structures Inventory (Indianapolis, 1985), 4-5.

Architectural Description

This three-span structure rests upon the original metal caisson piers and abutments which the Toledo Bridge Company designated. The plate girder approach spans are each reinforced with a timber support under the most central floor beam. The timber deck carries a 16'8" roadway. A pin-connected Camelback through truss of 168' spans the river. Verticals of latticed channels form ten panels. Rods with turnbuckles intersect the two central panels and a laced double angle horizontal stabilizer is inserted midway between the chords. The next three panels on each side of the center section use double die-forged rectangular eyebars as diagonals from the outer top pin to the next lower and more central one. The endpost panel is reinforced with a special diagonal of laced double angles. The original rectangular girder floor-beams remain to support a deck allowing 19'3" of vertical clearance.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes


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Maps and Links: Black River Bridge

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Bridgehunter.com: View listed bridges within 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) of this bridge.

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HistoricBridges.org Bridge Browser: View listed bridges within 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) of this bridge.

HistoricBridges.org Bridge Browser: View listed bridges within 10 miles (16 kilometers) of this bridge.

2021 National Bridge Inventory: View listed bridges within 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) of this bridge.

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