Boner Bridge 1869

March 27, 2012  •  2 Comments

I took these photos of Boner Bridge last Sunday. Boner Bridge, built in 1869, crosses the Little Pigeon Creek on the Warrick/Spencer county line in Southern Indiana.

Boner Bridge is thought to be one of only five of its kind in the United States. The 260 foot, one-lane, iron bow, string-trussed bridge has sandstone abutments, iron bents and a wood plank floor. It is unique because it is known as a three-span bridge as it contains three arches. The two arches on both ends of the bridge measure 50 feet in length. The middle arch is the bridge's longest, measuring 160 feet.

Boner Bridge Boner Bridge


Comments

Riffert Riverview Studio
Thanks, Al. Great story. We are fortunate having such a historical structure this close to home.
al letcher(non-registered)
I wrote this back in 1995 while employed by the Boonville Standard newspaper.
If I ask you where Boner Bridge is, how many of you would know?
I didn’t until a few days ago.
I heard about it and the bad condition it was in at a county commissioners meeting. A local resident and the bridge’s unofficial historian, Paul Scheessele, came to the meeting to ask the commissioners when the bridge might be repaired.
I decided the bridge might be a good story. To get to it, you drive south on Yankeetown Road. When you get to Red Brush Road turn east on it. Then just drive until you get to the bridge.
Be watchful, it kind of just appears on the right hand side of the road.
Right now the old timbers are stacked along the road. The bridge had a new floor as of August.
I drove across the bridge and parked on the Spencer County side. I walked onto the bridge and was immediately transported into the 19th century.
It was a warm summer day in 1870-something. I could hear a wagon clanking noisily down the road towards the bridge. I watched as it turned off the road onto the bridge.
The horse didn’t hesitate. This was a familiar trip for it.
The owner spat chewing tobacco into the water below as he had done many times before. He took the bridge for granted. He was on his way to Bullocktown to trade at the store there.
I turned around and saw a model T just rounding the curve and making its way onto the bridge. It purred like a kitten as it clattered across the bridge.
The loud roar of a diesel engine made me turn again and a bus full of soldiers cheered for the bridge as they discovered it was on the detour route taken by the bus from Tell City to Evansville.
They were happy now, but for some of them this old bridge would survive longer than they would. They wire off to fight World War II.
The screech of tires caught my attention as a hot rod 1957 Chevy slid around the corner and onto the bridge. The bridge shook as he misjudged his speed and slid into the side if the bridge.
The sound of a police siren was nearby. The sheriff stopped at the bridge. County police weren’t allowed to go into another county so his prey had escaped.
I heard a jet plane high above me. I waited a long time for the next car to arrive. Nowadays only 50 or 60 cars a day use the bridge.
I wondered how many lovers had shared a kiss underneath it? How many young boys had leaped to the waters below because someone had dared them or called them “yellow?”
Now a rusty bridge is covered with declarations of love which we now refer to as graffiti.
The bridge is located halfway between Bullocktown and Highway 66. It is the only bridge between Warrick and Spencer counties in that area.
The iron bow construction was patented by Julius Barbaroux in 1867. Boner Bridge was built in 1869. It is the only one left in the country of that construction. It has sandstone supports. Concrete didn’t arrive in our country until 1872.
The iron in the bridge is rusted and bent. It hasn’t been painted since the early 1950’s.
The new floor stands out in stark contrast to the rusty metal.
I’m sure the 127 year old bridge has many stories to tell.
I made up a few.
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