This bridge is a large and fantastic example of a bridge built by a noteworthy in-state bridge company. The bridge retains excellent historic integrity including the distinctive builder plaques which have words spelled out with punched holes, something this particular bridge builder liked to do. The future of this bridge is of significant concern since the recent Historic Bridge Management Plan failed to identify this extremely important bridge as Select for preservation.
Information and Findings From DHPA Historic Bridge Survey
Statement of Significance
Fabricated by a prolific Indiana firm, these high trusses retain their original members including decoratively latticed portals and guardrails.
The Lafayette Bridge Company of Lafayette, Indiana, fabricated this high, two-span, pin-connected Pratt through structure of 350'8" which is seated upon cut stone abutments, wingwalls, and pier. For each span, intermediate verticals of laced channels subdivide the 175' truss into most of its ten panels. Eyebars provide the diagonals: pairs stretch toward center span from the top panel point to the bottom of all except the endpost panels; cylindrical eyebars with turnbuckles counter the others in the two most central panels. U-bolted to the lower pins, I floor beams carry the timber deck with its 16'1" roadway and 18'3" of vertical clearance.
From at least 1829, Sinclair Cox kept a ferry across the White River where Fort Ritner would soon stand. Dixon took over the ferry at some undetermined time and operated it for a considerable period. The county commissioners granted the petition filed by William A. Holland and others for a bridge across the White River near Fort Ritner and received bids in June 1895. The Lafayette Bridge Company submitted at $8,360 the lowest of six proposals for a 354-foot structure in two spans with a 16-foot roadway. Luedtke & Fillion won the contract for the stone work for $9,400. The county contracted with G. A. Dodd and H. C. Mallott in August for the bridge's approaches. Lafayette Bridge received an advance in November and the balance in December. Charles King received $255 in December for deck lumber for the Fort Ritner spans.
The Fort Ritner Bridge was repaired periodically. In 1903, for example, the county contracted with Harvey Dixon for $525 of repair work and with William M. Munson to paint the superstructure. Fabricated by a prolific Indiana firm, these high trusses retain their original members including decoratively latticed portals and guardrails.
References: Charles E. Jones, Lawrence County Bridge
Inspection Program: Final Report (Bedford, 1973). Lawrence County Bridge
Reinspection Program (Bedford, 1978). Associated Engineering
Consultants, Inc., Bridge Reinspection Study and Report: Lawrence County
(Nashville, 1979). Bridge nameplate. Goodspeed Brothers, History of
Lawrence, Orange and Washington Counties, Indiana (Chicago, 1884),
61-62. Lawrence County, "Commissioners Record," M: 536, 568, 570-573; N:
31, 39, 68, 78, 98; P: 505-506.
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes
Coordinates (Latitude, Longitude):
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