This bridge is a good example of a riveted Pratt through truss bridge. The bridge was bypassed by a modern highway bridge on new alignment, and then the historic bridge was restored in its original location for use by pedestrians, where it can be viewed by anyone interested in seeing a beautiful bridge or appreciating our nation's transportation heritage. The concept of leaving a historic bridge standing when a replacement bridge is built on a different alignment seems like an obvious course of action. However, in many states, in particular Pennsylvania, this concept is as alien as the other side of the universe. In states like Pennsylvania, agencies like PennDOT insist that historic bridges be demolished, regardless of their historic significance, even if they are not in the way of their replacement. Given this reality, it is worth noting that Indiana made the right choice to preserve this bridge, and Indiana deserves to be thanked for this. Further, this bridge sets an example to states like Pennsylvania, as proof that historic bridges that are not in the way of their replacement bridge do not need to be demolished.
Information and Findings From DHPA Historic Bridge Survey
Statement of Significance
Riveted Pratt through structures are not plentiful in Indiana. The design of this one is unusual in two particulars: the varied size of the diagonals and the placement of the floor beams. The bridge retains its original members, including latticed guardrails.
Seated upon cut stone abutments and wingwalls, this single-span, riveted Pratt through structure extends 120' in eight panels. Two pairs of laced angles provide each set of intermediate verticals, and a pair of angles riveted together with battens installed inward from top to bottom panel points of all except the endpost panels serves as each diagonal and counter set. The angles in the second- and fourth-panel diagonals are doubled, and the diagonals are countered in the two most central panels. I floor beams are riveted to the verticals and gussets above the lower chord. The bridge carries an asphalt-over-concrete deck with a 16'6" roadway and 16' of vertical clearance.
At the request of the county commissioners, J. A. Staag and Bruce Craig, Engineers, prepared specifications for the Robbins Ford Bridge in April 1908. After the board approved the specifications, it set letting for early May. J. W. Mathews & Co., the "lowest and best bidder," won a contract for $5,680. With the structure accepted as complete in early December, Mathews received payment for the balance due to him. To whom Mathews turned for the fabrication of the superstructure remains unknown. Seated upon cut stone abutments and wingwalls, this single-span, riveted Pratt through structure extends 120' in eight panels. Two pairs of angles provide the posts: the hip verticals are riveted together with occasional batten plates; the intermediate ones are laced together. A single pair of angles riveted together with battens supply the outer-panel diagonals; the angles in the second- and fourth-panel diagonals are doubled. A pair of angles work as counter-braces in the two most central panels. The trusses are stiffened with laced intermediate struts with knee-braces and upper round-rod lateral bracing. The portals carry braced-A frames made from a pair of angles. I floor-beams are riveted to the verticals and gussets above the lower chord. The bridge carries an asphalt-over-concrete deck with 15 feet and 9 inches of vertical clearance. The trusses are lined with latticed rails. In 1914, the county contracted with W. H. Scripture to "scrape and touchup rusted places on iron work and paint iron work [on the bridge]...with one coat of oxide of iron mixed with pure linseed oil." The bridge appears to have been repainted once again in 1919.
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes
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