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The Tulip Trestle

Updated on January 11, 2015
Now over 100 years old, the Tulip Trestle is still in use.
Now over 100 years old, the Tulip Trestle is still in use. | Source

In a rural area of Indiana's Greene county stands the tallest and longest railroad trestle in the state. Its total length is 2,295 feet, and its maximum height above the Richland Creek Valley is 157 feet. The structure can be seen on Google Map (below). Note that its shadow is much more pronounced that the structure itself. If you zoom in on the map, the actual trestle is at the bottom of the shadow, and you are looking straight down on it.

The trestle is located a few miles northeast of Bloomfield, Indiana in Greene County. It is on County Road 480 East about about a half mile south of County Road 390 North (also called "Tulip Road").

Tulip Trestle on Google Map

Construction

The Tulip Trestle was built for the Indianapolis-Southern Railroad. Clearing of the land started in the middle of 1905 and erection of the steel towers started in September of 1906. The steel was fabricated by the American Bridge Company and erected by the Strobel Steel Construction Company, which finished the job in late November. The tracks were then laid on the trestle, which was opened to rail traffic on December 21, 1906.

When the trestle was being built, rumors flew in the local community that "A man a day" would be killed. Much of the work was performed by Italian immigrants. Common laborers earned 13 cents per hour, while those erecting the steel towers were paid 30 cents an hour. The total cost for the trestle was about a quarter million dollars, or about 20 million dollars in today's money.

Cement mixer and crew at the Tulip Trestle construction site
Cement mixer and crew at the Tulip Trestle construction site | Source

Operation

The Tulip Trestle became property of the Illinois Central Railroad when it purchased the Indianapolis-Southern Railroad in 1911. In 1986, the line was purchased by Indiana Rail Road, a regional railroad operator with about 500 miles of track. It continues to run trains across the Tulip Trestle, including its Santa Train, which celebrated its 25th season in 2014.

On a night before trains had radios to allow the engineer to communicate with the guys in the caboose, a train stopped on the trestle. It was the job of the flagman in the caboose to set out a red lantern, so any train approaching from the rear would know that a train was stopped on the tracks. Not realizing where he was, the flagman was preparing to jump off the caboose. He flipped his cigarette to the ground, which he thought was at the level of the tracks. As it continued to fall, he quickly realized where he was, saving his life.

Indiana Railroad has operated its Santa Train for 25 years
Indiana Railroad has operated its Santa Train for 25 years | Source

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