High Bridge Jitters

I suppose this memory had its roots in the mid 1990’s, long after the Monon Railroad was long gone. In fact, by then even the tracks on the old Indianapolis Branch, south of Monticello had been removed. A budding re-interest in the Monon Railroad surfaced and I started working on web sites devoted to the Monon.

By 2000, I was determined to chronicle a "then and now" look at the former Hoosier Line, which morphed into my Bygone Places Along The Monon web site.. I centered my travels and research on the north end, from Monon to Hammond and the Michigan City Branch. Then about 2002, I expanded the scope in a desire to cover the entire route, from Hammond to New Albany and all branches in between. The plan was to “wander” the old route and take pictures.

Before the 2004 Crawfordsville Annual Meeting, I found myself in Delphi the Friday of the convention. Society member and Director Tom Rankin offered to act as tour guide for the area around Delphi. Tom was raised in the area and was a perfect tour guide. That is how we arrived at High Bridge. Seeing the bridge in pictures is one thing, but seeing it in person was a great. After a nice hike along the former mainline from State Route 25, we came upon High Bridge. We went around the barrier blocking the trail and walked out on the bridge. The view of the surround countryside was breathtaking. After shooting some photos, we started out across the old trestle. The bridge, at one time, was the highest on the Monon Railroad.


About half way across, I decided to get a picture looking down from the bridge at Deer Creek below. This was a very bad idea. After looking down, my knees became weak and I froze. Something had taken hold of me. To this day, I cannot describe the fear I had at the time. As a former firefighter I am use to heights. Hell, I have been in an aerial bucket 75 feet above the ground, with 30 mph winds, fighting a fire and never felt as frightened as I did that morning. It was all Tom Rankin could do to talk me back to the middle of the bridge and to solid ground. I am positive he was not thinking about dragging, or carrying, me back. To make a long story short, I finally made my way back to solid ground and the feelings evaporated. I looked at the bridge and made up my mind to come back and try it again. That same day, Tom and I walked across the longest bridge on the Monon Railroad, Wildcat Creek. That bridge is not as high as High Bridge and getting across was a breeze. Well, we did have a brief incident with a raccoon, but that is another story for another day.


In 2006 I made another attempt. This trip I was accompanied by my friend Jim, a member from Crown Point. He experienced the same sensation as I had two years before. This time it was my job to talk him back to solid ground. I was determined not to let this bridge defeat me. Yes, I had more than enough photos of the bridge, but I knew I could walk across it. I returned a week or two later and did complete my mission. I walked across High Bridge. When I arrived near the railroad south end of the bridge, I was upset when I saw the road underneath the bridge. A road meant that there was a way to drive to that end of the bridge. For a few seconds I was upset, but then realized that I had conquered High Bridge. (Picture Left: Looking across the bridgem railroad north to south.)


At the 2004 Convention I spoke with some members who were able to ride across the bridge on motor cars, or high rail vehicles. Walking across the bridge was good enough for me, but I was very envious of these members. I can only imagine what a thrill that would have been. Same with the passengers on the Monon passenger trains as they crossed the trestle and looked out over the valley and creek below. (Picture Right: Looking railroad south to north.)

What a memory.    



-Thomas Kepshire-


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