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Michigan City Railroad Bridge

Michigan City Railroad Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: August 12, 2006

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Railroad (Norfolk Southern, Amtrak) Over Trail Creek
Michigan City: La Porte County, Indiana: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
By Builder/Contractor: Unknown

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
195 Feet (59.4 Meters)
Structure Length
200 Feet (61 Meters)
Roadway Width
Not Available
1 Main Span(s)
NBI Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

If you are ever headed to Chicago on I-94 and you find a traffic jam in this area, consider getting off the parking lot and taking US-12 as an alternative route. You can get a chance to stop and check out some nice bridges along the way, including this attractive swing bridge, a short distance off the main road. Alternatively, if you take the Amtrak to Chicago you will actually get to cross this bridge.

This is an impressive swing bridge that is painted in a refreshingly non-black color making it a nice change from most railroad bridges. It is rusting however. The structure is pin connected, and continues to operate for both boats and trains. The bridge appears to remain in the open position in the summer and closes only when a train is coming. As a truss bridge, this is an attractive structure with v-lacing and lattice on various parts of the bridge.

The bridge was built ca. 1905.

Information and Findings From DHPA Historic Bridge Survey

Statement of Significance

The truss designer appears to have followed some of Waddell's 1898 prescription that 225'-300' swinging spans ought to be designed as pin-connected Pratt throughs with broken top chords. The reduced use of pins here reflects early twentieth century experience with the extra wear moving spans put on pin connections. This bridge appears to retain its original members, including power source and latticed portals. It is the only structure of this design remaining in Indiana.

Architectural Description

New York Central trains have crossed Trail Creek over a rim-bearing, partly-pinned Warren through swing span for decades. The top chord is raised in the panel over the rim and connects to the four-panel side sections through heavy die-forged eyebars. Both chords and endposts are fabricated from laced crafted channels. The diagonals crossing the 4th and 6th panels match the outer endposts and include latticed portals; heavy eyebars in the 3rd and 7th panels carry the stresses from the raised central panel; laced crafted channels serve in the 2nd and 8th panels; and a diagonal inserted about one-third of the way up the endpost stabilizes the abutment panel. Pins are used only for the top 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th and the bottom 2nd and 7th panel points whose connecting die-forged eyebars carry the extra tension of the ends when the truss is turned. Rectangular girder floor beams carry the timber tie deck and its single track.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes


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