5 votes

MON - Hohman Avenue Railroad Bridge


Holman Avenue Monon Railroad Bridge

Photo supplied by enforcement officials shows illegal scrapping of bridge Jan. 2015

Photo provided to Northwest Indiana Times - nwitimes.com

View this photo at bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com

BH Photo #314831



HAMMOND ó A federal jury found a scrap metal dealer guilty Thursday of stealing a historic railroad bridge.

Kenneth Morrison, owner of T&K Metals in Whiting, was tried this week in U.S. District Court on an interstate theft charge that he and a crew of workers cut up a disused bridge built in 1910 for a succession of railroad lines, just north of downtown Hammond, and sold it to Illinois scrapyards for more than $14,000.

Jurors deliberated one hour. A sentencing date is set for March 21.

Morrison pleaded not guilty. He didn't take the witness stand in his own defense.

His defense attorney, Sheldon Nagelberg, told jurors Morrison believed the Monon Bridge to be abandoned property, since Hammond city officials couldn't give him a straight answer on who owned it.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Powers argued Morrison knew full well the city owned the bridge, because he had applied unsuccessfully to the city in 1991 and again in 2014 for work permits to scrap it. "This wasn't a mistake," Powers told jurors.

Powers said the defendant lied to others to cover up his theft, claiming he bought the bridge from either the city or a railroad line that had never owned it.

The bridge crossed the Grand Calumet River in a heavily industrial and wooded area about nine blocks north of the downtown location of the federal courthouse where the trial was taking place.

Hammond is crisscrossed by several rail lines. The bridge was considered an important remnant of the city's history, because it was the last remnant of a railroad that serviced the Hammond Meatpacking Co., one of the city's first industries.

CSX donated the property, including the bridge, to the city on March 3, 1987. It was considered for use by the South Shore commuter line or as part of a bike trail, but instead lay dormant.

Powers said Morrison and his work crew moved aside concrete barriers to access the bridge in early December 2014, and over a two-month period cut its spans into smaller, easily transportable pieces he had hauled across state lines and sold to several industrial scrap metal buyers.

A Hammond code inspector arrived at the scene Jan. 29, 2015, saw half of the bridge dismantled and put a work stop order on Morrison's dump truck parked nearby.

State and federal agents found Morrison back at the bridge site on three separate later days, claiming he had a permit to salvage the bridge and being instructed repeatedly to stop trespassing there.

Powers said it was only during an FBI interview later that spring Morrison admitted he had no permits, license or permission and that he had lied when he had said so earlier.

Nagelberg conceded to jurors Morrison was no "angel" and that he clearly demolished the bridge in broad daylight and lied about it.

He defended Morrison by attempting to put the city of Hammond on trial, arguing its officials never gave proper public notice of its acquisition of the bridge and never communicated clear ownership of it to Morrison.

He argued the city abandoned the bridge to neglect. Most of the railroad ties in the bridge's bed had fallen into the river, and large metal sections had become unbolted.

Nagelberg said the dispute over the bridge should have been settled by a civil suit against Morrison and not in criminal court. "He is not a criminal," Nagelberg said.

Powers told jurors not to be distracted by defense attacks on the city. He said Morrison demonstrated he didn't care who owned it; he only wanted the money its scrap metal could bring him.

Morrison defended his actions in a 2015 interview with The Times, arguing the bridge was "like a shipwreck," and that "if a ship sinks, that's abandoned and it's fair game."

Also see- http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/court-re...

Whiting Man Sentenced To Prison And Ordered To Pay Restitution To The City Of Hammond

HAMMOND- The United States Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana, Thomas L. Kirsch II and the Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division, Jeffrey Bossart Clark, announce that Kenneth Morrison, age 69, of Whiting, Indiana, was sentenced before United States District Court Judge Philip P. Simon on September 5, 2019. Morrison was sentenced to 24 months imprisonment, 2 years supervised release, and ordered to pay over $54,000 in restitution to the City of Hammond.

Morrison was found guilty of interstate transportation of stolen property. According to documents and testimony in this case, Morrison was convicted of stealing the Monon Bridge, located in Hammond, Indiana, and transporting the stolen metal parts across state lines, which he sold those metal parts for his personal benefit. The former bridge had spanned the Grand Calumet River. Morrisonís sentence was enhanced due to the eligibility of the bridge for the National Register of Historic Places.

The case was the result of an investigation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-Criminal Investigation Division, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-Office of Inspector General, Environmental and the U.S Coast Guard Criminal Investigative Service with the assistance of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. This case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Richard J. Powers, U.S. Department of Justice, Environmental Crimes Section and Assistant United States Attorney Toi Denise Houston.



Abandoned Warren through truss with alternating verticals bridge over Grand Calumet River on Monon Railroad (abandoned)
Hammond, Lake County, Indiana
Demolished by Illegal Scrapping
Future prospects
Destroyed by illegal scrapping operations 2014-2015
Built ca. 1909 for Monon (Chicago, Indianapolis & Louisville) Railroad; abandoned by successor railroad after 1981 and before 1989. Successor railroad CSX Transportation supposedly donated span to city, but city never acted to take deed.
- American Bridge Co. of New York
- Page & Schnable of Chicago, Illinois
- Chessie System (B&O/C&O/WM)
- Chicago, Indianapolis, & Louisville Railway (CIL)
- Monon Railroad (MON)
Warren through truss with alternating verticals, one span bascule lift
Also called
Monon Bridge
MON - Grand Calument River Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+41.62570, -87.52168   (decimal degrees)
41°37'33" N, 87°31'18" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
16/456543/4608350 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Lake Calumet
Inventory number
BH 51551 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • December 15, 2018: Updated by Alexander D. Mitchell IV: Bridge scrapper found guilty in Federal trial.
  • November 6, 2017: Updated by Ed Hollowell: Add link to news abnouit this span, correct # of spans and date of abandonment.
  • May 28, 2017: New photos from Tony Dillon
  • June 2, 2015: New photo from Douglas Butler
  • June 1, 2015: New photos from Douglas Butler
  • January 30, 2015: Updated by Alexander D. Mitchell IV: Bridge damaged/demolished by suspected illegal scrappers
  • June 17, 2013: Updated by John Marvig: Added categories "Riveted", "railroad"
  • March 1, 2012: Added by Frank Hicks

Related Bridges 



Monon - Hohman Avenue Railroad Bridge
Posted May 20, 2019, by Roger Deschner (rogerdeschner [at] gmail [dot] com)

The illegal scrapper is trying to get away with it in court. He's a common thief who deserves jail time.


Monon - Hohman Avenue Railroad Bridge
Posted December 15, 2018, by Roger Deschner (rogerdeschner [at] gmail [dot] com)

This was welcome news when I heard about it on the radio last night and read about it in the newspaper this morning. Jail is a good place for this dastardly thief.

All I can say is that I am thankful for Nathan Holth's excellent photo documentation of this distinctive bridge. Link under "Sources". This incident should inspire us all to take more pictures of historic bridges, because they could be gone someday.

Hohman Avenue Railroad Bridge
Posted December 15, 2018, by Don Morrison

Nope, he's no relation to me. 8^P

Thanks for not asking!

Number 72 "cabeese" is coming up from behind.

Hohman Avenue Railroad Bridge
Posted December 15, 2018, by Art S. (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)


Hohman Avenue Railroad Bridge
Posted December 14, 2018, by Jeff Wieland (jjwieland [at] gmail [dot] com)

And he's been convicted:


"Kenneth Morrison, 68, of Whiting, was found guilty of interstate transportation of stolen goods. In late 2014 and early 2015, Morrison dismantled Hammondís Monon Bridge and sold the metal in Burnham, Ill., for $18,000. He is expected to be sentenced March 21. He faces a fine and no more than 10 years imprisonment, according to federal sentencing guidelines."

Hohman Avenue Railroad Bridge
Posted August 28, 2018, by Luke

Guy is trying to weasel his way out of charges: http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/post-tribune/news/ct-p...

Hohman Avenue Railroad Bridge
Posted November 6, 2017, by George oakley (Georgeoakley49 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

This guy caused an oil spill in the Schuylkill River in Pa.?When did this happen?I live near the Schuylkill River in southeastern Pa.

Hohman Avenue Railroad Bridge
Posted November 6, 2017, by Ed Hollowell (erhollowell [at] aol [dot] com)
Hohman Avenue Railroad Bridge
Posted September 28, 2016, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Every time I think of this bridge and the evil, selfish, and sorry excuse for a human being who committed this deed, I want to give him a date with OLD SPARKY.

Hohman Avenue Railroad Bridge
Posted September 28, 2016, by Anonymous

Apparently the alleged perp allegedly returned to the scene of the crime and allegedly scrapped out the rest of the bridge.

He also spent some time in prison for causing an oil spill in the Schuylkill River in Pennsylvania.


Holman Avenue Railroad Bridge
Posted May 13, 2015, by Anonymous

From a historical perspective, the last thing we need is historic bridges disappearing illegally. From a public safety perspective, the last thing we need is bridges in use being weakened - a practice which this guy does not seem to be guilt of. Regardless, he needs to be prosecuted and punished severely before he starts removing other bridges. I am afraid that if he just gets a mild slap on the wrist, or if all charges are dismissed then he will be right back at it. We are not dealing with silly teenagers committing silly pranks here. We are dealing with professionals who are putting the public at risk.

Holman Avenue Railroad Bridge
Posted May 12, 2015, by John Marvig (marvigj27 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Better hope he doesn't get to the Sohl Avenue Bridge....

Holman Avenue Railroad Bridge
Posted May 12, 2015, by Matt Lohry

I just noticed that the person wanting to demolish the buoys in anon's post IS THE SAME person who demolished this bridge!! He a selfish, arrogant, greedy scumball who is obviously interested in his own personal gain and cares NOTHING about anyone's children or their welfare and safety!

Holman Avenue Railroad Bridge
Posted May 12, 2015, by John Marvig

It's good money...until they catch you!

Holman Avenue Railroad Bridge
Posted May 12, 2015, by Anonymous


No wonder scrappers have a reputation for being a bunch of mad cockwombles...

Holman Avenue Railroad Bridge
Posted February 6, 2015, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

I should also comment that the toxicity of the Grand Cal river's oddly colored water (90% industrial and municipal runoff) is likely far more of a hazard to children than the bridge ever was... as are the many ACTIVE railroad bridges in the region that kids might wander onto... but I don't see anyone illegally demolishing those bridges or offending industries. The guy is a hypocritical idiot.

Holman Avenue Railroad Bridge
Posted February 6, 2015, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

I noted his analogy with a sunken ship. I hate to break the news, but sunken ships are not available for the taking either. Sorry folks, it is not "finders keepers".

Holman Avenue Railroad Bridge
Posted February 6, 2015, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

ABSOLUTELY ZERO BRIDGES are available using this man's argument because what he did was illegal. This man is a self-centered low-life criminal from whom lies are pouring out of like a waterfall. Bridges are ALWAYS owned by someone, and that someone must give permission for any action, and must also comply with all applicable laws. It may be a challenge to learn who owns an abandoned bridge, but it can (and must) be done.

There was absolutely nothing wrong with this bridge and it was in great condition. This individual basically took a safe structure and created a dangerous situation that also resulted in needless destruction of a historic bridge for his own personal benefit.

Demolition of this bridge should have required Section 106 and mitigation since the article suggests an Army Corps permit was needed. This person should be required to pay for what reasonable mitigation for demolition of this historic bridge would have been. That should be the blast cleaning and repainting the Chicago and Alton Railroad Bridge in Chicago, the only other remaining bridge of this type.

As for the historic of the Hohman Avenue Bridge, I was never able to peg a specific date on the bridge as a whole. However, I have a ca. 1909 date for the approach through truss span, but unsure if that approach was added later, or is original construction. The Bridgemen's Magazine article referring to this bridge was not very clear.

Holman Avenue Railroad Bridge
Posted February 5, 2015, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

Well, that's a novel argument. I wonder what else might be available for the taking by using that argument...

I guess that since he has declared himself the owner, he should be held financially responsible for the brownfields cleanup associated with the property the bridge served.


Art S.

Holman Avenue Railroad Bridge
Posted February 5, 2015, by Will Truax (Bridgewright [at] aol [dot] com)

The doubly audacious idiotic moron declared abandonment and salvage rights...

And he suggests he is not a thieving scrapper because he did it for the good of the children -


Holman Avenue Railroad Bridge
Posted February 2, 2015, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)


I was going to post that but I didn't have the heart.

I also didn't know the reporting marks :^)


Art S.

Holman Avenue Railroad Bridge
Posted February 1, 2015, by Nathan Holth (nathan [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Great. A bunch of idiotic morons have managed to destroy one of only two remaining page bascules in the country.

Hohman Avenue Railroad Bridge
Posted August 26, 2013, by Eric Reinert (ericreinert [at] yahoo [dot] com)

A couple of points: The Monon called this the "Calumet River Bridge", and it was used at least a couple of times a week into 1984 to deliver newsprint to the Hammond Times.

It is still there... not that you'd want to traverse it. The last time I took pictures of it in October, 1999 it's ties were already pretty rotten. Here is a link to my photos of it. One is looking South toward Downtown Hammond, the other looking North. I walked through the river bed rather than over the ties to get the Southbound view after I walked to it from Downtown Hammond:



It was built when they seriously thought the Calumet through here could be navigable some day. It is mostly dry creekbed and has been for a long time.

Here is a picture of it in better days, probably late 1950's:


Also, don't confuse it with the Little Calumet River bridge (at the south end of the Monon's South Hammond yard) or the bridge over the Grand Calumet River (on the C&WI) in Illinois which the Monon used as well...

Best regards,

Eric Reinert

Bolingbrook, IL