This made Friday morning's undertaking by Duncan Robertson contractors all the more daunting -- remove a 36-ton, 160-foot iron bridge from its abutments and place it on solid ground ... and keep it in one piece.
Thanks to some heavy lifting by a giant crane and some very slow movement, Bridge 146, the Houck Iron Bridge, now rests on the north bank of Big Walnut Creek, the stream it spanned for 106 years.
The first step of Houck's journey took place on Friday with its move.
Duncan Robertson's plans had originally called for two smaller cranes to lift the bridge from each end and move it to the north shore. Big Walnut's current water level led to this plan being scrapped.
Instead, the contractors called in a bigger gun, a large Maxim crane, to connect to both ends of the bridge and lift it alone.
In a deliberate process, workers connected the crane, freed the bridge from the abutments and let the crane do the rest. The apparatus lifted the bridge, pivoted slowly to the northwest, eventually setting the bridge down on solid ground.
The next step for the contractors is to disassemble the bridge. In doing so, they must inventory each piece of the structure. It will then be transported, in pieces, to Delphi. Putnam County has donated the bridge to the Wabash and Erie Canal Society.
With the new bridge out of the way by spring, Duncan Robertson will set to work on construction of a new bridge for County Road 25 East. The new crossing will be to the west of the old bridge and will make the road's curves approaching the creek less severe.
The new bridge should be completed by fall 2012.