9 votes

CR 650 E - Patoka River Bridge


East Face of Bridge

Photo taken by James McCray


BH Photo #140292


Street View 


Patoka River CR 650 Bridge

Mike Daffron

Play video on YouTube


Research by Dr. James Cooper has uncovered the significance of this unique structure. The design is referred to as "Iron Arch #1" by the Smith Bridge Company and is the only known remaining example of this type. The erection of this span was left to noteworthy Southern Indiana bridge builder William T. Washer of Troy in Perry County. He built a number of covered bridges using both his unique Burr trusses as well as building some Smith truss spans as an agent for that company. It is also documented that he built metal spans using Indiana Bridge Company trusses, and now we can add Smith iron trusses to the mix.


Bowstring pony truss bridge over Patoka River on CR 650 East
Pike County, Indiana
Open to traffic
Built in 1875 by William T. Washer using the Smith Bridge Company's "Iron Arch #1 Design".
- Smith Bridge Co. of Toledo, Ohio (Design and Fabrication)
- William T. Washer (Abutments and Erection)
Wrought iron bowstring pony truss.
Reinforced with load bearing beams.
Length of largest span: 87.9 ft.
Total length: 99.1 ft.
Deck width: 10.2 ft.
Eligible for the National Register of Historic Places
Also called
Pike County Bridge #150
Approximate latitude, longitude
+38.37250, -87.15500   (decimal degrees)
38°22'21" N, 87°09'18" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
16/486460/4247157 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Average daily traffic (as of 2015)
Inventory numbers
INNBI 6300101 (Indiana bridge number on the National Bridge Inventory)
BH 16856 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection report (as of April 2017)
Overall condition: Poor
Superstructure condition rating: Poor (4 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Satisfactory (6 out of 9)
Deck condition rating: Poor (4 out of 9)
Sufficiency rating: 14.4 (out of 100)
View more at BridgeReports.com

Update Log 

  • September 28, 2019: New photos from Mike Daffron
  • July 25, 2019: New photo from Melissa Brand-Welch
  • October 29, 2017: Updated by Clark Vance: Added category "Cruciform Outriggers"
  • October 28, 2017: New video from Mike Daffron
  • December 1, 2016: Updated by Mike Daffron: Added County bridge number
  • January 18, 2016: New photos from Mike Daffron
  • September 23, 2013: Updated by Tony Dillon: Added correct date and builder for this rare and special bridge.
  • October 21, 2011: Updated by J.P.: removed builder due to new info that was given to me, stating that Indiana Bridge Company was most likely not the builder.
  • April 15, 2010: New Street View added by J.P.
  • March 5, 2010: Updated by J.P.: updated builder
  • May 14, 2009: New photos from James McCray
  • May 12, 2009: Updated by J.P.
  • May 9, 2009: New photos from J.P.
  • March 9, 2009: Updated by Anthony Dillon


  • Tony Dillon - spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com
  • J.P. - wildcatjon2000 [at] gmail [dot] com
  • James McCray - jamesinslocomb [at] yahoo [dot] com
  • Melissa Brand-Welch - melissabrandwelch [at] msn [dot] com
  • Historicbridges.org - by Nathan Holth
  • Mike Daffron - daffmikron [at] gmail [dot] com


CR 650 E - Patoka River Bridge
Posted July 28, 2019, by Mike Daffron (daffmikron [at] gmail [dot] com)

Oh Yes! Awesome pic!!!

CR 650 E - Patoka River Bridge
Posted July 28, 2019, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

And you know how excited I was that you found that photo!

My vote for "Historical Photo of the Year"!

CR 650 E - Patoka River Bridge
Posted July 28, 2019, by Melissa Brand-Welch (melissabrandwelch [at] msn [dot] com)

I was excited to find this photo!

CR 650 E - Patoka River Bridge
Posted July 25, 2019, by Mike Daffron (daffmikron [at] gmail [dot] com)

I highly recommend visiting it in it's home spot before it is relocated. Beautiful. And yay for saving it!

CR 650 E - Patoka River Bridge
Posted July 25, 2019, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

This amazing photo that Melissa found during her research shows the bridge a few years before all of the extra steel was added to it. While the added bracing and load-carrying beams undoubtedly saved this treasured landmark from certain destruction, it has long hidden just how spectacular this span really is! Hopefully a planned move to a park location will allow all of the added parts to be removed so the real beauty can shine through!

Patoka River Bridge CR 650 E
Posted October 28, 2017, by Mike Daffron (daffmikron [at] gmail [dot] com)

Oh yeah, by the way, this is one of Indiana's treasures. The setting with the railroad track winding with the Patoka River is awesome! It's like transporting back in time.

Patoka River Bridge CR 650 E
Posted October 28, 2017, by Mike Daffron (daffmikron [at] gmail [dot] com)

I don't know what the status of this move is. I hope Pike County gets it together (no sign that this will happen) and keeps the bridge put.

Patoka River Bridge
Posted August 15, 2016, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

The bridge is being replaced and will likely be moved to a park:


Patoka River Bridge
Posted January 18, 2016, by Mike Daffron (daffronmike [at] yahoo [dot] com)

My mom tells me she has an article from the Pike County newspaper reporting that this beauty will be moved to Petersburg and will replace the "PCCHARGERS" bridge. Will locate the story. Visited this bridge on Friday Jan 15, raining and nasty out, BUT bridge still cool! used to go to Pike State Forest and this bridge a lot when I was a kid.

Patoka River Bridge
Posted September 23, 2013, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

I have uploaded James L. Cooper's outstanding report that at long last revealed the unknown history and significance of this bridge to the world on my page for this bridge:


Direct link to the article:


Patoka River Bridge
Posted September 23, 2013, by Tom Hoffman (tehoffm [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Wow, I had no clue William T Washer build iron truss bridges as well. Just knew he built lots of covered bridges in Southwestern Indiana. Is this the only one of his metal truss bridges still standing?

Patoka River Bridge
Posted July 6, 2009, by Anthony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

This is a special bridge! If you look at picture #14 up close you will see the original (small) outriggers that tie into the unique ribbon-laced floor beams. The upper chord is composed of two channels that are also ribbon-laced together. In the 1970's the large outriggers as well as heavier floor beams were added to strengthen it. These may well have kept the bridge from being destroyed, but it would be great to see this beauty restored to it's original condition. This bridge (to my knowledge) is one-of-a-kind and the builder remains a mystery.