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Gilmore Farm Bridge

Pulaski County Bridge 31 - Blue Bridge

Gilmore Farm Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber

Bridge Documented: April 5, 2015 and May 19, 2016

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Key Facts

Location
Delphi: Carroll County, Indiana: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1905 By Builder/Contractor: Winamac Bridge Company of Winamac, Indiana

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
2006
Main Span Length
76 Feet (23 Meters)
Structure Length
78 Feet (24 Meters)
Roadway Width
14.4 Feet (4.39 Meters)
Spans
1 Main Span(s)
NBI Number
6600020

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Bridge Documentation

View The Official Wabash and Erie Canal Webpage

View The Stearns Truss Patent

Please review the detailed history provided by Dr. James Cooper for the DHPA Historic Bridge Survey below for a detailed history of this bridge. Constructed in 1905, but featuring use of cast iron, use rolled star iron, and an unusual patented truss configuration, if this bridge's history was not documented, it would be easy to mistake this bridge for an early iron bridge from the 1870s. Its extremely short length (for a through truss) of 78 feet also makes the bridge look older than it is. It is otherwise unheard of for a bridge with these traits to have been built in 1905!

This bridge is the only surviving Stearns type truss bridge in the country. Originally located in Pulaski County on County Route 1175W over Big Monon Ditch, this bridge has been relocated and preserved (2006-2007) for pedestrian use over the historic Wabash and Erie Canal. The bridge is one of several relocated and preserved historic truss bridges in Delphi, and as such is part of a unique group.

Information and Findings From DHPA Historic Bridge Survey

General Discussion (Carroll County Entry)

Pulaski County Locations See Pulaski County #31. In May 1905, the trustee of White Post Township petitioned the Pulaski County commissioners for a new bridge over the Big Monon Ditch at the Gilmore farm (southeast corner of Section 11). The county council quickly appropriated money to build this and thirteen other structures, and the auditor sought bids by early June for a 76-foot long steel bridge with a 14-ft. roadway. Although six bridge companies make proposals, "the Home Bridge Company"--Winamac Bridge--won the contracts for all of the ten bridges let, including the one at Gilmore farm for $1,345. The pinned Stearns through-truss span bears upon metal caissons which, in turn, anchor plate walls to retain the approach fill. Periodic major dredging not only changed the name of Monon Creek, which stretched from the southern to the northern borders of Pulaski County, but also required the removal and the moving of many of the bridges which crossed it when the waterway became deeper and wider. Hence the county did not usually contract for permanent substructures made of stone or concrete: timber piling, metal legs, and caissons were preferred. A round pipe seated between upper and lower pin plates provides the central and heaviest vertical. It is flanked by star-iron verticals which extend through the top chord at the 2nd and 5th panel points. A pair of light die-forged eyebars hang as hip verticals. The Stearns' diagonals--cylindrical eyebars with turnbuckles--all originate from the topchord/end-post pin: one pair intersects only the 2nd panel; another cuts through the 2nd and 3rd to the lower, most central pin. Single adjustable round rods serve as counters in the two most-central panels. The trusses are not heavily braced. There is, for example, no special portal bracing. Rather, light I-beam struts cross between the trusses above all the upper panel points, and round rod provide lateral bracing. U-bolted to the lower pins, light rolled-I floor-beams are braced at their center point by a system of pinned eyebars into something akin to a variable-depth girder. The 1913 dredging of the Big Monon into Ketman Ditch required the moving of many structures, including this one. In April 1914, the Winamac Construction Company--the apparent successor of Winamac Bridge--secured the contract for $1,269 to move the Gilmore farm structure to the next most-northerly road crossing of the Monon. Donald Ward, the county's consulting engineer, recognized this as "a most unusual type of truss" worthy of being rehabilitated "as a historic landmark." It is the only structure of its kind within the United States. Mr. W. E. Stearns secured a patent in January 1890 for the truss. The Berlin Iron Bridge Company, for which Stearns worked as an engineer, secured control of the patent in the United States. The Winamac Bridge Company which fabricated and erected this bridge, and whose successor moved it, is a little-known but nonetheless significant player on the bridge-building scene in central-northern Indiana in the first decade of the 20th century. This bridge may well represent the premier example of their work. Relocation Site The Gilmore Farm bridge substructure and superstructure were dismantled and moved to the Wabash and Erie Canal Park in March 2006. The superstructure has been restored and re-erected on its original metal caissons over the canal about 300 feet south of Bicycle Bridge Road.

General Discussion (Pulaski County Entry)

Pulaski County Locations In May 1905, the trustee of White Post Township petitioned the Pulaski County commissioners for a new bridge over the Big Monon Ditch at the Gilmore farm (southeast corner of Section 11). The county council quickly appropriated money to build this and thirteen other structures, and the auditor sought bids by early June for a 76-foot long steel bridge with a 14-ft. roadway. Although six bridge companies make proposals, "the Home Bridge Company"--Winamac Bridge--won the contracts for all of the ten bridges let, including the one at Gilmore farm for $1,345. Organized in 1901 around the Frain extended family, the Winamac Bridge Company was closely associated with ditch dredging and bridge moving, as well as with fabrication and erection, in and near Pulaski County. John W. Frain, listed in the 1900 federal census as "dredge-boat operator," was one of seven stockholders organizing the bridge company in 1901, and George Frain, who owned a machine shop and picket fence factory, served as one of its directors and officers. There's a real incentive for a small, relatively new bridge company working out of a machine shop to reach for design that promised more carrying with less material. It may have been that in the eight months that John Frain and Chester Blinn spent "working for a bridge company in North Carolina" in 1900 they learned about the Stearns truss which was later used in the bridge designed for near the Gilmore Farm. Stearns advertized his patented design as using 12.5% less metal "with equal unit strains and conditions of loading" than the Pratt. Indeed, Stearns' royalty may explain the $20 payment Pulaski County made to High G. Frain for bridge plans a few days before the commissioners contracted with Winamac Bridge Company for the Gilmore Farm bridge. The pinned Stearns through-truss span bears upon metal caissons which, in turn, anchor plate walls to retain the approach fill. Periodic major dredging not only changed the name of Monon Creek, which stretched from the southern to the northern borders of Pulaski County, but also required the removal and the moving of many of the bridges which crossed it when the waterway became deeper and wider. Hence the county did not usually contract for permanent substructures made of stone or concrete: timber piling, metal legs, and caissons were preferred. The superstructure extends 76 ft. subdivided into six panels bordered by light verticals. A round pipe seated between upper and lower pin plates provides the central and heaviest vertical. It is flanked by star-iron verticals which extend through the top chord at the 2nd and 5th panel points. A pair of light die-forged eyebars hang as hip verticals. The Stearns' diagonals--cylindrical eyebars with turnbuckles--all originate from the topchord-endpost pin: one pair intersects only the 2nd panel; another cuts through the 2nd and 3rd to the lower, most central pin. Single adjustable round rods serve as counters in the two most-central panels. The trusses are not heavily braced. There is, for example, no special portal bracing. Rather, light I-beam struts cross between the trusses above all the upper panel points, and round rod provide lateral bracing. U-bolted to the lower pins, light rolled-I floor-beams are braced at their center point by a system of pinned eyebars into something akin to a variable-depth girder. The floor and I-beam stringers support the remnants of a timber deck with a 14-ft. roadway with approximately 15 feet of vertical clearance. Lattice rails line the trusses. The 1913 dredging of the Big Monon into Ketman Ditch required the moving of many structures, including this one. The moving was so extensive that the county assigned its structures numbers rather than place names. The old Gilmore Farm bridge became #38 and was moved one road north in the spring of 1914. Old #29 moved to the Gilmore farm location; old #48 moved from the next road north up to what is now SR#39. In April 1914, the Winamac Construction Company--the apparent successor of Winamac Bridge--secured the contract for $1,269 to move old #29 from the Gilmore farm to the next most-northerly road crossing of the Monon. Donald Ward, the county's consulting engineer, recognized this as "a most unusual type of truss" worthy of being rehabilitated "as a historic landmark." It is the only structure of its kind in Indiana or Ohio. Mr. W. E. Stearns secured a patent in January 1890 for the truss. The Berlin Iron Bridge Company, for which Stearns worked as an engineer, secured control of the patent in the United States. The Winamac Bridge Company which fabricated and erected this bridge, and whose successor moved it, is a little-known but nonetheless significant player on the bridge-building scene in central-northern Indiana in the first decade of the 20th century. This bridge may well represent the premier example of their work. The structure appears to retain its original substructure and superstructure. Relocation Site See Carroll County, Gilmore Farm Bridge. The Gilmore Farm bridge substructure and superstructure were dismantled and moved to the Wabash and Erie Canal Park in March 2006. The superstructure has been restored and re-erected on its original metal caissons over the canal about 300 feet south of Bicycle Bridge Road.

References

Schlegelmilch and Associates, Bridge Inspection Report: Pulaski County (Monticello, 1973, 1976). Donald W. Ward, Bridge Reinspection Report: Pulaski County (Monticello, 1980). "The Stearns Truss for Highway Bridges," Engineering News and American Railway Journal, 28: 53. Engineering News Record, 54: 19 (supplement). "Court House News Notes," "Notice of Bridge Letting," "Notice to Bridge Contractors," "Bridge Contracts Let," "News Notes and Gossip from the Court House" (2), "Commissioners Court" (2), Pulaski County Democrat, 11 May 1905: 1; 18 May 1905: 7; 15 June 1905: 1; 22 June 1905: 1; 17 July 1913: 3; 14 August 1913: 1; 16 October 1913: 1; 4 December 1913: 1; 9 April 1914: 1. Pulaski County, "Commissioners Record," T: 422, 434, 440-443; X: 159, 173, 210-213, 251-254, 264, 273, 278, 287, 314, 333, 346-348, 440, 460, 530; Y: 11, . Pulaski County, "County Council Proceedings," I: 281, 294. "Articles of Association, Winamac Bridge Company" (Indiana State Archives, Indianapolis). "Winamac Bridge Company," "Notice to Contractors," Winamac Democrat-Journal, 12 April 1901: 5; 3 October 1913: 8. "Local Notes," "Home Bridge Company Wins," "Notice to Bridge Contractors," Winamac Republican, 17 January 1901: 5; 15 June 1905: 1; 12 March 1914: 2.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes

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Coordinates (Latitude, Longitude):
40.582880,-86.683310

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