September 3, 2013

Restoration of bridge underway in Delphi

Former Putnam County structure now spans canal at Wabash & Erie park.

By Amie Sites Pharos-Tribune

---- — DELPHI — The Houck Road Bridge, formerly spanning the Big Walnut Creek in Putman County, has a new name and a new home: the Wabash and Erie Canal Park in Delphi.

To make room for a new bridge in Putnam County at the same location, the bridge was removed, disassembled and brought to Delphi park in spring 2012.

The Wabash and Erie Canal Association was able to snag the bridge through the Historical Bridges Marketing Program, an initiative of the Indiana Department of Transportation. When an Indiana historic bridge is planned for bypassing or replacement, the bridge is offered to any group or individual that may want to take ownership of the bridge and manage or relocate it to another site.

”It’s a good system,” said Dan McCain, president of the canal association. “Instead of seeing it all go in to the junk pile, it keeps [bridges] around. People miss them after they’re gone.”

Erection of the bridge, now known as Gray Bridge, began in July and the completed span now supports itself from end posts on wood blocking, according to a newsletter from association.

The massive parts are painted and the bridge will span the canal. It will serve as a foot bridge and trail connector from downtown to canal park at the end of the Gateway Trail, McCain said.

The bridge was delivered at no cost to the canal association, but funds are needed to complete the restoration. A fund for the Gray Bridge Project was set up and volunteers interested in pledging money are able to do so.

Volunteers have been working on the bridge on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, McCain said.

The bridge, which is 128 feet long and 17 feet wide, will be set in the middle of September, McCain said. Once it is set, there will be a day planned for decking, where volunteers will be invited to participate, around October. At that time the bridge will be connected to other trails.

The bridge should be completed this year, McCain said. Although there is not a date set for the expected completion of the bridge, it should be this year, McCain said. When the bridge is completed, those at the canal association would like to have a celebration.

Amie Sites is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5117 or