Sunday, June 30, 2013

Abandoned Silver Creek Railroad Bridges - New Albany, Indiana

Over the stream of Silver Creek near Floyd County's Loop Island a pair of abandoned railroad bridges sit vacant and until recently were mostly forgotten.  The two bridges were one of my favorite areas to explore in Floyd County, but are now set to be turned into "rails-to-trails" incorporated into the Ohio River Greenway Project.  The bridges were dangerous to cross, and still are, but were close enough to each other to make a nice afternoon adventure.

The bridge labeled Point A was part of the Pennsylvania Railroad.  The bridge labeled point B was part of the former Baltimore & Ohio rail line.
The bridge furthest south was likely built first, but we do not have a date for its construction.  We do know that the bridge was a part of the Pennsylvania Railroad, which was founded in 1846.  It's Warren Truss Design, and the condition of the bridge, indicates a date somewhere in the latter half of the nineteenth century.  We are not sure when the bridge was abandoned, we have a source that indicates the line was still active in the 1950s, but its deterioration suggests it was some decades ago.  This bridge is planned to be the first of the pair opened on the Greenway.  If so they better start on the repairs sooner rather than later.

The piers supporting the bridge are mostly made of limestone, but a significant layer of concrete was added to give the piers their needed height.  It may also indicate that an even older bridge was once here and was washed away by a flood.

This photo was taken later the same year and demonstrates the necessity of the concrete portion of the piers as flood water engulfs nearly all of the limestone.

This bridge will need a lot of work before it is safe for even pedestrian usage.  The extent of the damage is apparent in this picture as many of its iron members are flaking away.

The damage wasn't enough to keep me away from climbing up and getting this unique shot of the truss.

A shot of the abutment on the Clark County side.

The rail line of the Pennsylvania Railroad bridge would have continued into New Albany through this now mostly abandoned industrial park.  The more secure buildings are used for storage, and with some luck they may be restored with the completion of the Greenway.  
In the colder months the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad bridge can be seen up stream while crossing the bridge.  I liked crossing over to Clark County on the Pennsylvania Railroad bridge, and then heading back on the B&O.
After crossing the bridge from the Loop Island side you'll find the path dead ends into a junk yard in Clark County.

While I did not think it would be a good idea to enter the junk yard, a couple of their of old school buses are more or less out for display.

Notice the metal grate divider in the middle of this bus.  Perhaps it's just the white supremacist graffiti, but my first thought was it may have been a segregated school bus.

Who needs a fence when you have loads of overturned school buses?

These buses are double stacked near the former B&O bridge's abutment.  Is there a better way to say "no trespassing?"

Finally, we've made it to the former B&O railroad bridge.  With a sturdy deck and catwalk this bridge appears to be in much better condition than its neighbor down stream.
I was able to dig up a bit more information about the Pennsylvania Railroad bridge's northern neighbor.  The build plate confirms that this girder bridge was built in 1906 by the Riverside Bridge Company of Wheeling, West Virginia.  The bridge was built for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (B&O), which you may be familiar with if you've owned railroad property in the board game Monopoly.  B&O operated throughout the nineteenth and twentieth century, and eventually became part of CSX railroad company that currently dominates the East Coast railways.  It is unclear when the bridge was abandoned, but again we do have a source that suggests the line was open as late as the 1950s.  More evidence of the old B&O line still exists just a short walk away where another girder bridge crosses over Emery Crossing in Clarksville.

This map shows both the Pennsylvania (in red) and B&O lines were in use in the 1950s.

A final view of the Pennsylvania Railroad bridge from the B&O bridge.


  1. awesome, i found your blog due to the ammunition site post, when I found the section on lost bridges I wanted to mention these. I see you have them covered. Walked across them a couple times following the old tracks.

  2. The B&O bridge was last used by CSX in 2001. The tracks were pulled up in 2004. It is in much better shape than the PRR bridge which I'm amazed you walked across. I'd be scared of that one. Excellent site and thanks for the great photos

    1. Thank you for this information. The thing about abandonment is that things decay so quickly, so much so that its hard to guess anything with a great deal of accuracy. Something that looks like it has been abandoned for decades may in fact have been used four or five years ago, so details like this do help us.

      We actually went back out to these bridges last weekend to check things out again. The PRR is getting even worse. It honestly felt like it swayed a little bit, which seems impossible, but who knows....

    2. No problem. I was out on the B&O bridge February 1st as the weather was nice (63 degrees) getting some photos as I had not found your blog yet. I never attempted to cross the PRR bridge. A friend of mine did years ago and said a few of the ties tried to "roll over" on him. You're a brave soul to have ventured across it. You're also 100% correct about how fast the decay sets in once something is abandoned. From what I can gather about the PRR bridge it was officially abandoned on April 1, 1976 when Conrail was formed. However I'm told the tracks remained in until the early 1980's. Possibly as late as 1984 but I can't confirm that. Again, kudos for the daring and brave photos of the PRR bridge. Very well done.

  3. The bus with the divider is way too new to have been a segregated bus. I'd guess that it was either a prison bus at one time, or was owned by a private group, that would use the rear part for cargo. Cool pics, BTW. I've always wanted to go explore over there, but have yet to make it. I have walked around the old industrial park some, I think there's an old pickle plant there. It has outdoor vats, which is what pickle plants use to "pickle" the cucumbers.

    1. Yeah, school buses themselves were never internally segregated, because white and black students would be going to different facilities. This was very likely a buss that was converted to hold some sort of luggage or equipment in the rear, such as football gear or band equipment. (My high school band had such a bus in the 1970s.)

      I remember the B&O line from New Albany to Boyd Tower going by a junkyard not far from New Albany.

  4. Great pics and info. Of course at this writing the PRR bridge is gone and construction has started on new Greenway bridge at same site. The B&O is is good shape and a nice trail exists to Emery Crossing Clarksville along the the former rail line. Plans for a Rail to Trail path along this old CSX line all the way to Applegate Ln Clarksville are being finalized.