Tobias Bridge

Tobias Bridge

The Tobias Bridge, a pin-connected Whipple through truss, carries a local county road over Big Creek in Jefferson County, Indiana. The crossing was constructed in 1885 by the Indianapolis Bridge Company of Indianapolis, Indiana. 1 2

The bridge is located along the former Lexington-Saluda Highway. In 1884, M.J. Tobias and his neighbors had convinced Jefferson County Commissioners to construct a bridge over Big Creek. 3 To sweeten the deal, Tobias donated the stone for the abutment. James Walker was hired to construct the substructure who unfortunately discovered quicksand below the bed of Big Creek. After consultations with an engineer, he petitioned to perform additional wet excavation of the creek down to solid rock at a rate of $1 per cubic yard. Over 1,000 cubic yards of limestone was brought in for the task.

The Indianapolis Bridge Company shipped the superstructure in pieces and had it transferred to nearby Deputy by rail as it weighed 29 tons. 3 It was divided into 13 panels 12-feet in length, taking two weeks to assemble.

By the 2000s, the bridge had deteriorated and had a three-ton weight limit. 2 The bridge was slated for replacement until County Engineer Jim Olson was conferred with Greencastle preservationist James Cooper and J.A. Barker of Bloomington to develop a cost estimate for rehabilitation of the bridge. 3 The crossing, despite its low weight limit, had a good stone foundation and original ironwork. When the cost estimates came in below expectations, it was decided that the span would be restored instead of demolished.

The rehabilitated Tobias Bridge was unveiled on October 23, 2004, which was completed at the cost of $900,000. 3 The project was designed by J.A. Barker Engineering 2 with reconstruction performed by Gohman Construction Company of Sellersburg. 3  Work included increasing the load capacity of the span and to repair bent or bowed verticals. The decision was made to install additional plates on the outside of each vertical connected with high strength button head bolts that resemble the original hot rivets, to heat strengthen out-of-plane members, welding the lattice railings to modern tubular railings for safety, repairing ornamental portal braces and cleaning and painting the bridge.

After the rehabilitation project was completed, the weight limit was increased from three to 14 tons. 2


  • State: Indiana
  • Route:
  • Type: Whipple through truss
  • Status: Active - Automobile
  • Total Length: 154 feet
  • Main Span Length: 146 feet
  • Deck Width: 14 feet
  • Height: 21 feet
  • Above Vertical Clearance: 14 feet


  1. “Tobias Bridge.” N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Nov. 2012. Article.
  2. CASE STUDIES ON THE REHABILATION OF HISTORIC BRIDGES: Tobias Bridge, Jefferson County, Indiana. Rio Rancho, NM: The SRI Foundation, 2011. Print.
  3. Sparks, Laurel. “Local group saves historic bridge in Deputy from the wrecking ball.” RoundAbout [Madison] Dec. 2004: n. pag. Web. 1 Nov. 2012. Article.

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