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Rangeline Road Bridge

Huntington County Bridge 123

Rangeline Road Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: April 2, 2006

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Rangeline Road (CR-475 West) Over Wabash River
Location
Rural: Huntington County, Indiana: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1913 By Builder/Contractor: Central States Bridge Company of Indianapolis, Indiana and Engineer/Design: Lafayette Engineering Company of Lafayette, Indiana

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
1987
Main Span Length
128 Feet (39.01 Meters)
Structure Length
260 Feet (79.25 Meters)
Roadway Width
17.4 Feet (5.3 Meters)
Spans
2 Main Span(s)
NBI Number
3500083

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Bridge Documentation

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

This bridge features an unusual shape in that although it is a polygonal design the top chord is mostly parallel to the bottom chord. This is similar to the Indiana Avenue Bridge, although is in fact even more defined here at the Rangeline Road Bridge. This bridge would be a camelback, in the technical sense, since each span is made up of the required five sections. The bridge is significant as a Camelback truss and as a multi-span truss bridge.

The bridge is a Camelback through truss that features two spans, each composed of eight panels. V-lacing is present on vertical members, sway bracing, and under the top chord. The structure is pin connected, and sits on concrete abutments. The pier is also concrete. Portal bracing is an a-frame design. Original railings have been replaced with two rows of Armco railings.

A plaque placed on the bridge announces that the bridge was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

This bridge is unusual in that it represents a resistance on the part of the county against the evolution of bridge design. This bridge replaced a 1906 concrete arch bridge that was destroyed in a flood. In 1913 when this bridge was built, a transition was being made toward more use of concrete bridges like concrete arch bridges, and in fact the previous 1906 concrete arch bridge was actually early evidence of that transition starting. Additionally, those metal truss bridges that were built in 1913 were more often rivet-connected. However, Huntington County was a little hesitant to continue embracing change after their attempt with a concrete arch bridge ended up in disaster. As such, this is why in 1913, this pin-connected truss bridge was built. It was a structure type that was old technology, but had proven its reliability over the years and the county was more confident in the bridge design.

Information and Findings From DHPA Historic Bridge Survey

History of Bridge

The Lafayette Bridge Co., an important bridge company in the northern and central portion of Indiana, was the designer while the Central States Bridge Co., another important Indiana firm, probably fabricated the trusses. In addition, the site of the bridge on the Wabash River is a significant one to Huntington County. The site of the Rangeline Rd. Bridge was once a gathering place for Native Americans and later, their Euroamerican conquerors. When the Wabash and Erie Canal was developed, this site included a portion of it. At least two bridges existed in the same location before the Rangeline Rd. Bridge was constructed. In 1863 a covered bridge was built by James M. Bratton, Esq., and came to be known as the Red Bridge because of the red paint which was applied to it. By 1906 the Red Bridge had been closed for nearly four years due to serious disrepair. The Huntington County Commissioners sought to have a new metal truss bridge built. But when proposals for a new bridge were submitted, Daniel Luten and E. H. Lee of the National Concrete Co. were awarded the contract to build concrete arches for much less than a metal truss structure would cost. Luten's design called for a pair of 105' asymmetrical arches with 19' openings at the crown, all seated "on hard pan" and buttressed at the south end against the cut-stone abutment of the old covered bridge. The reincarnated Red Bridge was completed in late summer of 1907. In 1913 a disastrous flood played havoc on several bridges throughout Indiana and Ohio, but the damage to the Red Bridge was the most significant. As four young men were crossing the bridge they saw a large log heading towards the bridge. The log struck the bridge just as they had crossed to the other side. The force of the log was too great for the concrete structure and it was washed away. In their promise to build a stronger, more durable bridge, the Huntington County Commissioners went back to their preference for a metal truss bridge. They appropriated $15,000 for the new structure which was twice as much as they had spent on the reincarnated Red Bridge. This was also due in part to their desire to secure more waterway clearance. In 1913 the Lafayette Engineering Co. was awarded the contract to build a metal truss bridge for $14,000. For Rangeline Rd., they designed a Camelback through truss in a conservative manner in order to provide the County Commissioners with a feeling of security. The two trusses of the structure spanned at least 256' with each span measuring 128' long. The Lafayette Engineering Co. designed the trusses and constructed the concrete pier and abutments, but the Central Bridge Co. of Indianapolis is believed to have [built] the trusses. The Lafayette Engineering Company's design of the Rangeline Rd. Bridge was unique and different from other Camelbacks in that the typical Camelback design has three inclining slopes on each end of a truss and then their panels are divided evenly among two or three remaining slopes. For the Rangeline Rd. Bridge there are only two inclining slopes on each end with the four most central panels under the top chord sections. There are only a total of five slopes on the Rangeline Rd. Bridge whereas most have eight or nine slopes. The Lafayette Engineering Co. was formed out of the Lafayette Bridge Co. In 1889, Wallace Marshall and G. W. Bingham organized the Lafayette Bridge Co. They specialized in building standard trusses which they sold throughout central and western Indiana. The Lafayette Bridge Co. had become very successful and attracted the interest of the U.S. steel magnates who bought out the company in 1900 and integrated the Lafayette Bridge Co. into the American Bridge Co. Marshall Wallace and some of his men went to work for the American plant. Concerned for the loss of local control, six local men organized the Lafayette Bridge Co., [and] became part of the new company. The officers and directors issued $30,100 worth of stock which was enough for the company to design and erect bridge superstructures and to build substructures but not enough to manufacture trusses. In many cases they managed the construction of another company's design. The Lafayette Engineering Co. worked for nearly two decades on designing and constructing several metal and concrete bridges in Indiana, but by the early 1920s they had left the ranks of bridge designers as well as fabricators.

Architectural Description

This two-span, pin-connected variant camelback through structure of 263' is seated upon concrete abutments, wingwalls, and pier. Eight panels divide the 129' of each span with verticals of a single size of laced channels. Pattern-varied towards a Pratt, the span's center section consists of four panels and its side of one plus the endpost. All central and side panels use double die-forged eyebars angled from the top pin to the next lower and inner pin. Cylindrical eyebars with turnbuckles counter the die-forged ones in the two center panels. l-floor beams are inserted inside and bolted to the verticals above the lower chord. They support an asphalt-over-timber deck with a 17'6" roadway and 14'6" of vertical clearance. Crossing the Wabash River, the northern end of the Rangeline Road Bridge is located approximately 75' south of the intersection of Rangeline Road and US 24. The bridge is located in Huntington Township, Huntington Co., Indiana. The Rangeline Rd. Bridge was constructed in 1913 by the Lafayette Engineering Co. of Lafayette, Indiana. Each of the two steel and pinned spans of the Rangeline Rd. Bridge extends 128' in eight panels of 16 '. The Rangeline Rd. Bridge is unique to Indiana Camelbacks. Typically, Camelback trusses incorporate five slopes along their upper perimeter from endpost to endpost. After the incline of the endposts, most surviving Camelbacks have their panels divided evenly among the three remaining slopes. For the Rangeline Rd. Bridge, however, the Lafayette Engineering Co. placed the four most central panels under the top chord sections running parallel to the lower chord. Only the next-to-the-end panels of a span rest under an inclined section of the top chord. The trusses are 21' deep at midspan. The endposts and top chord are fabricated from a pair of 10" channels riveted together with a 5/16" cover plate above and lacing bars below. Each lower chord section consists of a pair of 4" high by 13/16" thick die-forged eyebars bypassing the hip vertical but otherwise pinned at each panel point to the truss webbing. The whole structure sits upon concrete abutments and a pier with triangular cutwaters. Also very substantial are the truss web members. The five interior verticals were each made from a pair of 6" channels riveted together with lacing bars. Suspended from the top chord-endpost pin, the hip vertical consists of a pair of 2" wide by 3/4" thick bars pinned below to a 3' stretch of laced channels which are not pinned to the lower chord (which is usually the case). Two die-forged eyebars provide diagonals for all except the endpost panels. The first two sets are heaviest at 3" wide by 3/4" thick. The two central panels use a lighter pair of 2" by 5/8" bars as diagonals as well as an adjustable 1/4" square rod as a counter. The trusses are well braced. Two pairs of angles riveted together at their ends with battens and laced at the center provide struts between the top chords. They in turn, are supplemented by the knee braces of angles attached to the verticals and the struts. Adjustable rods passing diagonally across the trusses between panel points also operate as lateral or wind braces above. The floor-beams consist of 24" rolled Is riveted at their ends to angles, inserted between the channels of the verticals below their lower pins, and then bolted to a set of adjoining angles. Eight 1" I-beam stringers span the panel longitudinally and support a timber deck. The Rangeline Rd. Bridge currently carries a galvanized replacement rail. The bridge appears to be intact and of original construction except for the wooden deck and the railings. The bridge is still heavily used and remains an important crossing for vehicular traffic.

Statement of Significance

The only Camelback variant of this kind extant, the trusses retain their original members. The Rangeline Rd. Bridge is eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places under criterion C for engineering and under criterion A for transportation. Rated "outstanding" in the Huntington County Historic Sites and Structures Inventory, the bridge is one of only three metal truss bridges remaining in the county. The design features an unusual truss pattern unlike the typical Camelback design.

Of the twelve highway bridges known or believed to have been built in Huntington County before 1930 and listed in Iron Monuments to Distant Posterity: Indiana's Metal Bridges, 1870-1930 in 1987, only three remained on the Indiana Department of Transportation's listing of bridges at the end of 1995. Of the three surviving bridges, the Hamilton Rd. Bridge is on the county line and Allen County has assumed responsibility for it. Also, two older metal truss highway bridges remain, the Rangeline Rd. Bridge and the Station Rd. Bridge in Jackson Twp. In Huntington County the loss of metal truss bridges has reached 75%. This percentage is well above the average for demolition on a state-wide basis. Given the highest rating of "outstanding" in the 1997 publication of the Huntington County Sites and Structures Inventory, the Rangeline Rd. Bridge deserves recognition for its unusual Camelback through truss design as well as its importance in providing transportation at a key location on the Wabash River. The Rangeline Rd. Bridge is the only known Camelback survivor from the earlier or later part of the Lafayette tradition. Camelback through trusses have become threatened and are endangered in Indiana. Thirty-three highway Camelbacks existed in 1987 and only nineteen had survived by the end of 1995. The site of the Rangeline Rd. Bridge is rich with history and serves as a reminder of human accomplishments as well as failures.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes

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