Saturday, November 18, 2017

Wells Street Bridge over St. Marys River in Fort Wayne, IN

(Bridge Hunter; Historic Bridges3D Satellite)

In the 1800s engineers celebrated what they could build by adding ornamentation to their structures. Kudos to Fort Wayne for building the replacement bridge on a new route so that they could preserve this example of the "engineering as art" era. I remember hearing that the original Lincoln Highway Route through Fort Wayne used this bridge. The St. Mary's Bridge was replaced by yet another slab of concrete. But this one, fortunately, was preserved.
Kenneth Childers posted
Wells Street Bridge at the St. Mary's in twilight [posted by Downtown Fort Wayne, facebook, 2015-05-25]
Eric Zerkle Wells st bridge. I remember going over it as a kid. I used to call it the "telephone bridge" as the round ornamentation reminded me of a telephone dial.

Steve Winans posted
Here is a photograph of the HISTORIC WELLS STREET BRIDGE (Allen County Bridge #541), that I took on JANUARY 25, 2016 @ 1:35am... I am standing straight ahead, in front of the Bridge, so I am looking SOUTH EAST... It had snowed the day before, and the snow on the Bridge itself is PRISTINE!!! The snow you see in the front of the photo, is walked on and trampled.... I like how the different lighting bounces off the snow, causing some really BEAUTIFUL color effects!!!
Built in 1884, by The Wrought Iron Bridge Company, & erected by ALVIN (JOHN)STEWART... It is a PIN- CONNECTED WHIPPLE THROUGH TRUSS Bridge... & is VERY VERY VERY RARE!! It is 180 feet long, & 23 feet wide... It replaced the FIRST Iron Bridge on the same spot -- That was built in 1859 to connect the BLOOMINGDALE NEIGHBORHOOD to Downtown..
It was CLOSED to Vehicular Traffic in 1982 -- & some City leaders, at the time, wanted to DEMOLISH it -- but it was SAVED & REHABILITATED instead.... The Wells Street Bridge was placed on the NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES on September 15, 1988...
It is MOSTLY intact - it is missing some flower & leaves details, and the side panels of the walkways are not original, & WAY less ORNATE... BUT, the MAIN thing missing is the 4 FINIALS that sat on top of the Bridge -- they were taken down for some reason in the 1950's, and LOST!! My, what a find that would be, to locate these finials --
The bridge is one of the only surviving examples of a 19th-Century Pin Truss Bridge,which were designed to carry traffic in a major city!!! DISTINCTLY DIFFERENT than Rural bridges, secondary street bridges in large cities, or ANY metal truss bridge in ANY small City. These Truss Bridges were designed to carry large volumes of traffic -- so they had wider roadways and HEAVIER Trusses!! The problem with Pin-Connected Whipple Iron Bridges is, because these bridges were located in the heart of large Cities, on major roads. -- Nearly all of them were demolished or replaced a long time ago -- MOST did not survive into the early 20th Century.
For the most part, there are NO examples of these heavy, Urban, PRE-1900, Truss bridges remaining --- EXCEPT the WELLS STREET BRIDGE... Everything I looked up about this bridge, STATES that it is the only KNOWN example of this type of Bridge left in the USA...
I sure hope you all like this photograph!!!   

Steve commented on his post
[Actually, this was the Spy Run Ave. Bridge. As Historic Bridges explains, it was of the same design even though it was built by a different company.]

As Steve's post and Historic Bridges explains that this is a very rare bridge because it is an 1800's heavy duty and decorated truss bridge designed for urban traffic. Most of these bridges were replaced in the early 20th century when traffic loads increased. Since this was on the original route of the Lincoln Highway and US-30 through town, it would have indeed been a heavily traveled route in its day. I don't know if US-30 changed its routing through town. I do know that in the 1950s they built the Bypass or the Circumurban(sp?) to route US-30 around the town. I remember when the bypass was just The Bypass was just two lanes and part of it was still out in the country. It is now IN-930 because US-30 has been moved further out of town onto I-469 and I-69.

The Google guy who runs the street view car must have worked with the city to take down the pylons so that he could travel over the bridge. You can keep clicking the arrow and run right through those pylons. Or else they ran the car from both directions and did a nice job of stitching the images together.
Street View
Street View
Street View
Street View

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