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College Avenue Bridge

College Avenue Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: September 21, 2019

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
College Avenue Over Fall Creek
Indianapolis: Marion County, Indiana: United States
Structure Type
Stone Elliptical Deck Arch, Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1905 By Builder/Contractor: W. M. Fife and Son and H. C. Adams and Engineer/Design: H. W. Klausmann

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
80 Feet (24 Meters)
Structure Length
242 Feet (74 Meters)
Roadway Width
40.4 Feet (12.31 Meters)
3 Main Span(s)
NBI Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Bridge Documentation

This is a large and extremely rare stone arch bridge with a heavy skew, achieved on this bridge via offset of stones. The east half of the bridge from underneath appears to be concrete, which makes it look like the bridge has been widened. According to Dr. James Coopers DHPA notes below however, the bridge was not widened, the stones were just covered up as part of a repair on half of the bridge. This would be an unusual repair to say the least, however it may be due to that side of the bridge being upstream and subject to greater damage from floods. Another unusual detail on this bridge is the approach railings are a stone design that does not match the balustrade railing over the river. The skew angle of the bridge is 42 degrees.

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

Information and Findings From DHPA Historic Bridge Survey

Bridge History and Significance

Marion County officials awarded a contract in August 1902 to build a stone arch structure and set aside $75,000 in the 1903 budget for another, the College Avenue bridge. In May 1903, the county asked for bids for "a stone arch bridge" at College Avenue of three spans which H. W. Klausman, the county's engineer, likely designed. On May 28, William Fife & Son won the contract to construct the bridge for $79,000. H. C. Adams was in charge of the stone. Fife received periodic payments from the county from July to November 1903, when the board approved Fife's request to extend his construction contract to August 1904. Payments continued beyond 1904 and to at least December 1905. This heavily-skewed, structure carries a pair of 4-foot sidewalks on each side between stone and concrete balustraded rails. The arch rings are elliptical and spring from above stone footings which extend vertically about 4-feet to the stream bed. The skew was achieved by offsetting each row of stones in the ring. The limestone blocks, including wingwalls and curved cutwaters, are well dressed and mortared. The intrados have been reinforced with concrete on the East side. The bridge is extraordinary in a number of ways. It is the only masonry structure in the state with elliptical arches and with a substantial skew. Its central span may well be the widest and its deck the broadest in Indiana. As befits an urban structure, he bridge's stones are very carefully dressed and the whole unusually well decorated.


United Consulting Engineers, Inc., Bridge Inspection Study and Report: City of Indianapolis (Indianapolis, 1975). Floyd E. Burroughs & Associates, Inc., Bridge Reinspection: Marion County (Indianapolis, 1988). Engineering News & American Railway Journal, XLVIII (21 August 1902), Supplement, 68. Engineering News, XLIX (7, 21, 28 May 1903), Supplement, 257, 258, 301. Marion County, "Commissioners Record," 36: 146, 194, 243, 267, 288, 305, 316, 342, 383, 483, 557; 37: 13, 32, 72, 95, 154, 258, 282, 308, 330, 382, 465,.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes


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