Rally to Save the Cedar Grove Bridge

Oblique view. All photos in this article are courtesy of Tony Dillon

What does it really take to save a historic bridge? Many groups created to save a precious piece of history have been creative in garnering funding and resources to restore and reopen the structure for recreational purposes. Apart from the traditional fundraising and cooperation between the private and public sectors, some have done silent auctions, marathons, music concerts, bike tours, pie sales and even bridge festivals, the last one of which is common in big cities in the US and places in Europe.

But what about a road rally?  A road rally is basically a tour of the area by a caravan of cars, with a gathering at the end of the rally. One can find that with the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, which is held every July, or the Elephant Rally in Germany, where it honors the Zuendapp Motorcycle, produced by the Germany army during World War II and is famous for its green color.  In the case of this rally, it deals with a famous bridge in an Indiana county that is a focus of efforts to restore it for recreational use.

Side view of the two spans

The Cedar Grove Bridge, spanning the Whitewater River south of Cedar Grove (located 20 kilometers southeast of Brookville) in Franklin County is a rare gem in southeastern Indiana. Built in 1914 by the Indiana Bridge Company of Muncie, the two-span riveted Camelback truss through truss bridge is one of a handful of bridges left in a state which prides itself on historic bridge preservation. The bridge is 368 feet long with each span being 181 feet; the width is 17 feet. Since the early 1990s, both the bridge and the road (old state highway 1) were a focus of a dispute between the Indiana DOT and Franklin County over who claims one of the two, with the former refusing to fix the bridge before handing it over, as demanded by the latter. The DOT had wanted to remove the bridge and went even as far as applying at the state department of historic preservation, and this despite the growth of tourism in the region.

Enter the group Friends of the Cedar Grove Bridge. For the past 10 months, the organization led by Satolli Galssmeyer, has worked together with both the county and the state in claiming ownership of the bridge, with support from Indiana Landmarks and the Whitewater Canal Scenic Byway Group. According to latest reports, the ownership is appearing to go to the group, which would be a huge advantage for the people of Cedar Grove, Franklin County and the region which prides itself in the numerous historic bridges that exist. The problem comes with funding and resources, which are needed to fix up the bridge so that it can be reopened for recreational purposes. This is when the road rally comes in handy.

Inside the bridge. Note that new decking and new paint may be part of the restoration package

On October 6, the event will come to Franklin County, starting at 10:00 am at Harrison High School in Harrison, Ohio. It will feature 60 miles of back roads, scavenger hunting and fact collecting, which will be a treat for family and friends. The Rally will end at the bridge in Cedar Grove where a large gathering is expected. Cost for entering the rally is $35 per car and team if pre-registered, $45 on the day of the event, when registration is at 9:00 am. The goal of the rally is to raise $100 per team, which would help a great deal for purchasing and restoring one of the finest faces of Cedar Grove.

For more information on the event, please contact Satolli Glassmeyer, using the details below. Should the rally be successful, it will not only be a blessing for the people of Cedar Grove and the region, who have find memories of the bridge and would like to keep it for future use, but it will also be used as a tool for fundraising efforts for other bridges in the US and Europe that are historically significant and culturally valuable but are threatened with demolition if no one wants to claim it and reuse it.

Satolli Glassmeyer:

e-mail: info@scenicroadrallies.com

phone: 812-623-5727

website: www.SCENICROADRALLIES.com


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