Semi-truck destroys Historic Bridge in Indiana Town

Photo taken by Tony Dillon in 2010

1880 Bridge built by Cleveland Bridge and Iron Company destroyed by semi-truck.

PAOLI, INDIANA- Normally on Christmas Day, Santa Claus brings good tidings and gifts to all the families and their children. This also includes any support for preserving historic bridges.

Unfortunately, for the community of Paoli in southern Indiana, Santa Claus was not kind to them at all, as the small community lost a treasured historic landmark that had once spanned Lick Creek on Gospel Street.

On Christmas Day in the afternoon, a semi-truck driver, ignoring the weight limit got herself wedged inside an iron through truss bridge, causing the semi-truck and the structure to drop in the water in a matter of seconds. Fortunately, she and a passenger were not injured in the wreck, but beams had to be cut apart to allow crews to free the truck and get it out of the water. In addition, 35 tons of bottled water had to be removed from the truck before it could be pulled out of the water. The weight limit was six tons at the time of the accident. Charges of reckless driving and damage to property are expected, according to multiple sources. This is the second time in two weeks that an accident involving a truckload of beverages has occurred. An accident on the German Autobahn near Magdeburg in Germany two weeks ago resulted in a trucker losing his entire truckload of beer onto the highway, shutting it down for hours while crews cleared crates and broken glass from the highway.

The bridge sustained severe damage to the southern end, where the truck struck the top chord and is currently leaning to one side towards a pedestrian located next to it. That crossing was closed off temporarily for safety reasons. While traffic has been rerouted to the 1st Street Bridge to the west, chances are likely that the bridge will need to be rebuilt, which could take months to complete. Whether it will mimic the crossing brought down by the truck remains open as of right now.

The Gospel Street Bridge was an example of an iron truss bridge built by the Cleveland Bridge and Iron Company in neighboring Ohio, having been constructed in 1880. Only a handful exist today, mostly in Indiana and Ohio. The bridge was an eight-panel iron through truss bridge with Town Lattice bracings. The builder’s plaque was on each portal of the bridge. The length was 93 feet, making it one of the shortest crossings in Orange County. Also unique is a bowstring arch bridge, built in the 1930s, that is located right next to the bridge, used for pedestrian traffic only. That bridge is the subject of a Mystery Bridge article shown in the next article…..

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