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Lost Bridge

Dearborn County Bridge 15, Ohio County Bridge 29

Lost Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber

Bridge Documented: May 6, 2006

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Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Belles Branch Road Over Laughery Creek
Rural: Dearborn County, Indiana and Ohio County, Indiana: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1916 By Builder/Contractor: Oregonia Bridge Company of Lebanon, Ohio
Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
141.7 Feet (43.2 Meters)
Structure Length
147.0 Feet (44.8 Meters)
Roadway Width
16.7 Feet (5.09 Meters)
1 Main Span(s)
Inventory Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

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

This bridge is known locally as the "Lost Bridge."

With a 1916 construction date, this is a relatively late example of a pin connected truss bridge that still looks like it came out of the 1890s. This is a very scenic bridge in a very scenic location and is well worth the drive out here. There is v-lacing on the vertical members and under the top chord / end port, and lattice is on the sway bracing, as well as on the portal bracing. Also, original lattice railings remain on the bridge. Cambria brands are present on the bridge. The deck of the bridge is wooden and the bridge sits on concrete abutments. One unusual thing is that the deck seems like it was higher than usual in relation to the feet of the bridge. It was high enough that a small stringer approach is present at the end to lead to the surface beyond the bridge.

Dearborn County executed a beautiful rehabilitation on this bridge in 2009, and repainted it an attractive bright red that allows the bridge to stand out and be noticed. It is nice to see this commitment to preservation with a rural bridge like this. Often bridges tucked away in rural locations go un-noticed and are not preserved. The bright paint color is a nice change of pace as well, since often preserved historic bridges are painted dark colors that are difficult to photograph and also tend to hide the intricate details of the truss. In contrast, the red paint brings the details of the bridge out. The railings and plaque are painted white, which creates a nice contrast and further develops the sense of detail that one gets from viewing the bridge.

Among the aspects of the work is the requirement that failed rivets be replaced with genuine hot-metal driven rivets, just like the bridge received when built in 1916. Typical highway rehabilitation projects replace failed rivets with historically incorrect modern high strength tension control bolts. Not only do these bolts look ugly (they lack a smooth head on each end) they are alterations that diminish the historic integrity of the bridge. They are used because of the false believe that due to AASHTO and other regulations, the use of rivets in rehabilitation projects for bridges to carry vehicular traffic is forbidden. This is clearly not true, as the Lost Bridge proves.

This project was designed by J. A. Barker Engineering. HistoricBridges.org recommends this firm for any metal truss bridge rehabilitation project. Not only is the firm skilled in designing a project that will not reduce the historic integrity of the bridge, the project will be high quality so as to give a long service life, and will also be more cost effective than a firm that is inexperienced with historic bridges will offer.

The plaques on this bridge are not the same. They each list the county commissioners for the county that the plaque is located in (the bridge is on the county line). Dearborn County apparantly took the lead in having the bridge built however, since their county engineer appears on both plaques.

Information and Findings From DHPA Historic Bridge Survey

Statement of Significance

Designed by a noted Ohio firm as a heavy but quite traditional structure, the bridge retains its original members, including its decoratively latticed portals and guardrails. The placement of the floor-beams above the lower chord and the reliance on heavier structural members are more typical of 20th than of 19th c. Pratt construction.

Architectural Description

The Oregonia Bridge Company of Lebanon, Ohio, fabricated this single-span, pin-connected Pratt through truss which is seated upon concrete abutments and wingwalls. Intermediate verticals of laced heavy channels subdivide the 146' truss into most of its eight panels. Eyebars provide the diagonals: pairs of die-forged and rectangular ones 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. Riveted to the verticals above the lower chord, I floor-beams carry the concrete deck with its 17'6" roadway and 13'8" of vertical clearance.

Two bridge plates, one for each county joined by bridge:

Text 1) "Built by the Oregonia Bridge Co. - Lebanon, Ohio. / Lucian S. Lotton, Henry Kaiser, Henry Bushman - Commrs of Ohio Co. / J. Relder, County Auditor / A.W. Karsteter, Engineer."

Text 1) "Built by the Oregonia Bridge Co. - Lebanon, Ohio. / John L. Nolte, Geo. F. Wolf, Frank Bittner - Commrs Dearborn Co. / H.C. Lutherbeck, Co. Auditor / A.W. Karsteter, Engineer."

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes


Photo Galleries and Videos: Lost Bridge


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Bridge After 2010 Rehabilitation

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Bridge After 2010 Rehabilitation

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View Photo Gallery

Bridge Before 2010 Rehabilitation

A collection of overview and detail photos. Also includes a few post-rehab photos from Melissa Rieman This photo gallery contains a combination of Original Size photos and Mobile Optimized photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer.
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Maps and Links: Lost Bridge

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Search For Additional Bridge Listings:

Bridgehunter.com: View listed bridges within 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) of this bridge.

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HistoricBridges.org Bridge Browser: View listed bridges within 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) of this bridge.

HistoricBridges.org Bridge Browser: View listed bridges within 10 miles (16 kilometers) of this bridge.

2021 National Bridge Inventory: View listed bridges within 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) of this bridge.

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