Over the past couple of weeks, I have been receiving numerous requests from people who know a bridge located near their place of residence, which lacks information on its history. This is the first of many mystery bridges to be posted in the Chronicles. And how coincidental it is to have a mystery bridge profiled on the eve of the upcoming Historic Bridge Conference, hosted by Tony Dillon, which takes place in two weeks.
Indiana is rich with numerous historic bridges made of steel or iron that are 70 years old and older. While one can expect to see at least six of them in each county on average, the number still existing is roughly half the number that existed in 1985. The Mystery Bridge, located over the Muscatauck River between the villages of Dudleytown and Uniontown, located south of Seymour in Jackson County is one of those structures that have long since disappeared.
Or is it the case? That’s the question Lori Day is asking. She came across an old photo of the bridge and is requesting some information on its history and in particular, where it was located. As seen in the picture above, the bridge is a Pratt through truss structure with possible riveted connections. There are a total of eight panels. According to Day, the photo was taken during the time that the river was being dredged by a dredgeboat (as seen in the picture.)
When I had a closer look at the bridge, I checked James Baughn’s website, Historic Bridges of the US to see if this bridge matches those of the bridges profiled in Jennings and Jackson Counties. One of the possibilities may have been that the bridge was located closest to highway 250. Yet the nearest crossing is located about 20 miles south of Seymour and the newest structure was built in 1968. However, there is a railroad bridge located a half mile south of the crossing. The present structure appears to be a rail trestle according to Bing. According to Ms. Day, the railroad was owned by Penn Central and is now part of CSX. Judging by the picture provided by Ms. Day, the bridge was rather narrow and there were rail ties on the bridge deck. It is possible that the crossing was indeed a railroad bridge. Yet the truss span was so small that it might have resembled the Staples Ford Bridge, the bridge closest to the mystery bridge profiled here. The crossing was built in 1897 but was replaced in 1995. But the question is, is this the bridge the same one that is profiled here or is it a different one located near Seymour but managed to slip past the records and has long since disappeared? Could be that the mystery bridge may have been relocated somewhere else or if it was demolished and replaced? If it was relocated, when did this take place an where was it relocated to?
For those who have some information pertaining to this bridge, together with the history of Dudleytown, Uniontown and Seymour, there are three different types of contact info you can use to help put the puzzle together. They can be found at the end of this column. Apart from the history of the bridge, the main question is where exactly is (or was) this bridge located outside of Seymour? And when did the dredging of the Muscatauck River take place and why?
The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will keep you posted on this riddle, as with all the other mystery bridges profiled so far.
Lori Day: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tony Dillon: email@example.com
Jason Smith (the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles): firstname.lastname@example.org
Jackson County is home to the Bell’s Ford Covered Bridge. Built in 1885 by Robert Patterson, the two-span Post through truss bridge, located over the East Fork White River west of Seymour off Hwy. 258, collapsed twice in 1999 and again in 2006. Efforts are being undertaken to either rebuild the bridge or relocate it elsewhere, but unfortunately with no success. The future of the bridge, which is now half its length and slightly leaning to one side is in doubt. For those interested in taking the bridge, please contact that county commissioners and the City of Seymour for more information. A picture of the bridge provided by Tony Dillon is below: