Monday, January 3, 2022

1910-1983 Aban/Pennsy Concrete Arch Overpasses in Cambridge City, IN

Foote Street: (Bridge HunterSatellite)
Center Street: (Bridge Hunter; Satellite)

I normally don't note overpass bridges unless they are over an Interstate with lots of lanes. But I can't remember seeing a concrete arch used for an overpass.

Street View

Bryan Monaco posted
The Pennsylvania Railroad once crossed over Foote St., in Cambridge City, Indiana. This line was abandoned in 1983.
Matthew Lappin: They tore this down in early 2000s as it literally cut this town in half.
Phillip A. Finnerty: I have seen on the Google map and looked at it on street level, that the former Pennsylvania railroad line from Richmond Indiana, to Indianapolis Indiana was elevated in 4 different locations that I have seen so far, it was elevated in cambridge city, Lewisville Indiana, raysville Indiana and knightstown Indiana. There might be other locations.
Phillip A. Finnerty: I heard from some one that they had a hard time back then taking other bridges down in cambridge city Indiana and just gave up and left the other bridges on Foote street and another street east of foote street alone.
Ethan McDowell: Cambridge City used to be all concrete arch. Over the decades it was torn down to make more room to grow.
The PRR was at least double tracked along most of its route.
Mark Backhaus: This was an earth filled bridge. The fill inside the bridge was probably partially removed when the fill was removed beyond the bridge to prevent it from collapsing off the end of the bridge.

Tim Shanahan shared
Bruce Bridges: This picture gives you a very good idea of how these concrete arches are put together! It's basically a one piece poured structure with the dirt built up around it.

Looking at a topo map, it becomes clear that Pennsy elevated their tracks through town to reduce the size of the cuts needed through the hill west of Walnut St. and the hill between the two river valleys on the east side of town.
1960 Cambridge City Quadrangle @ 1:24,000

I haven't seen concrete overpasses because I don't live in the right area. I'm reminded that Pennsy liked arch bridges. They started with masonry bridges. For example, the Rockville Bridge. Given that culture, it is not surprising that most Pennsy overpasses in this city were built with a concrete arch. (Meredith Street may have used steel girders.)

The builder of these overpasses in Cambridge City, P.F. Brendlinger, was evidently using precast segments rather than casting-in-place. The wood structure in the photo below is not forms for reinforced concrete, but falsework to hold the segments in place until the arch is complete. So Brendlinger was using masonry techniques with "big stones" made with concrete.
Digitized by Google, p136 via BridgeHunter-Center

You can still clearly see the segments used to build the arch.
Street View

Mark's comment about the arches being earth filled and this photo explains what we see today.
Indiana State Department of Natural Resource, Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology via BridgeHunter-Foote

This view better shows the retaining wall that they added so that they could remove the remaining embankment dirt.
Street View

So it is now rather obvious that the city removed the overpasses from Walnut, Jones and Green Streets, but that they gave up when they got to Foote Street except for Plum Street. That arch was narrow enough that they did remove it.
Street View

Since the arches were built with "big stones" instead of reinforced concrete, they should not have been that hard to take down. So why did they stop at Foote Street? The topo map helps answer that question as well. The depot was obviously built on an embankment just east of Foote Street.
1960 Cambridge City Quadrangle @ 1:24,000

In fact, parts of the retaining wall used to construct the depot's embankment are still peaking through the vegetation. Look in the upper-right corner of this excerpt.

This photo is what motivated me to look for the depot's location.
Photo by Jim Grey via BridgeHunter-Foote

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