The bridge is rumored to be built at least partially from materials obtained from the original Ferris Wheel at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. The current maintainer's of the bridge, the Porter County Parks Department, state only that it is "built from parts of a building from the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. According to James Coopers book, Iron Monuments To Distant Posterity the bridge may have been built from salvaged roof trusses of the Indiana building at the 1903 Worldís Fair in St. Louis.
The bridge was renovated in 2003 winning a state award for the engineering work involved.
You can read an extended history of Dunn's Bridge at this blog site:
I have several relatives buried in Sugar Creek Cemetery, so I've been able to see the Sugar Creek bridge many times during my life. I remember when the road leading to is was a brick road I think that gave it a more interesting setting, especially considering the cemetery wasn't my favorite place to be.
I can't agree that the Sugar Creek bridge was always a bridge. I think both bridges came from other uses. There are many rivet hole patterns on the flanges of the Sugar Creek bridge that aren't used in the current configuration. These could have been previous connections to other structural members, especially if it has been used as a roof or dome truss.
I do agree that it's strange there isn't more documentation. The Columbian Exposition was a well documented and photographed event. Seems like identifying a few dome trusses shouldn't be that hard.
Here's a photo of Dunn's bridge under construction that I thought some of you might be interested in seeing. I found it on the Kankakee valley historical site and is dated 1904.
Ed, yes the railings on the sides of the bridge are replacements that were added during the restoration. The curved guardrails at the ends are original.
The guard rails shown in the "Outdoor Indiana" photo were nothing like the ones in place now. I would guess that the current guard rails were new for the renovation.
Dunnís bridge is indeed mysterious. As unique as it is you would think that somewhere someone would have at least a scrap of information concerning itís origin, but there seems to be nothing other than the usual stories.
I have personally visited Dunnís and Sugar creek bridges and other than both being unusual and beautiful arches, they have little in common otherwise. I think sugar Creek Bridge was never anything other than a bridge, and very likely built by P.E. Lane.
Thereís a good chance that it became associated with Dunnís stories simply because itís similar in appearance. Dunnís bridge on the other hand gives several indications that it very well might have been something other than a bridge at one time. One of the most noticeable features is unused holes in practically every part. Not only in the arched members but even some of the bracing and the parts used as guardrails. Many of these show signs of having had been bolted or riveted to something else well before itís present use. Even though there are so many extra holes, new holes had to be drilled or cut where some of the present parts are now fastened together.
The arched guardrails used at the approaches are the same as the pieces used to link the tops of the arches together, another indication that there were plenty leftover parts available. Who knows whether all the parts used even came from the same place?
Even though there are clues that would lead one to believe that this was once part of something much larger, the real story behind this bridge will probably never be known.
I highly recommend visiting this bridge as well as Sugar Creek Bridge; they are well worth the time.
Dunnís bridge has been bypassed and restored so itís probably not going anywhere for awhile, Sugar Creek on the other hand is located in Iroquois county Illinois which over the past few years has been destroying historic bridges as fast as they can. Even though this is a very unique and historic bridge, that alone will not save it if someone decides it needs to be replaced.
Dunn's Bridge continues to be one of Indiana's "shrouded in mystery" spans. Since I started researching historic bridges over 30 years ago, I have heard every possible scenario introduced for this beauty. To my knowledge, there has never been any county records uncovered to shed light on the real truth. The Sugar Creek Bridge in Illinois is obviously of the same heritage. Why the upper chord is different than Dunn's is just another curiosity.
I have heard P.E. Lanes' name associated with both bridges on different occasions.
The bridge appears to be similar to the Sugar Creek bridge in Iroquois County, Illinois (BH 15334). That bridge was also rumored to be made from the trusses of the Administration Building. As noted, the Ferris Wheel was in St. Louis in 1904 at the Louisianna Purchase Exposition. After the Exposition it sat neglected for awhile, and then was blown up with dynamite. Those St. Louis people know how to have fun!
According to an captions on a photo in an article on bridges in "Outdoor Indiana" published in the 1970's the arches came from the dome of the Administration Building for the 1893 Chicago World Fair.
I only have photo copy's of two pages of the article so I can't say who the author was or what issue it was in but I will be looking.
Thus far, there are at least four bridges on Bridgehunter that were built by P.E. Lane. Two in Indiana and one each in Illinois and Kansas. The builder was listed under different formats as follows:
P.E.Lane (no space)
P.E. Lane (with space)
Lane, P.E. Bridge and Iron Works.
For now, I have standardized all four as P.E. Lane (with space).
Picnic photograph at Dunn's Bridge, 1911.