13 votes

Fort Ritner Bridge


Side view

Photo taken by Joshua Collins

BH Photo #102869

Street Views 


Ft Ritner Bridge

video by Mike Daffron

Play video on YouTube


Fort Ritner Bridge

Here's a link to a video I receently did on the Fort Ritner Bridge.

The Fort Ritner Phantom Bridge, Fort Ritner, Indiana

Play video on YouTube


Despite Lawrence County's miserable record with historic bridges, and despite this bridge being listed as "Non-select" in the state historic bridge inventory... The county is saying they plan to rehabilitate this amazing structure. However, now that it is closed with metal bars welded across the entrances this seems less likely.


Two-span through truss bridge over East Fork White River on CR L7S10
Lawrence County, Indiana, and Washington County, Indiana
Closed to all traffic
Built 1895 by the Lafayette Bridge Co.
- Lafayette Bridge Co. of Lafayette, Indiana
Pinned Pratt through truss
Length of largest span: 169.6 ft.
Total length: 354.0 ft.
Deck width: 16.0 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 17.3 ft.
Eligible for the National Register of Historic Places
Also called
Cox's Ferry Bridge
Lawrence County Bridge #52
Approximate latitude, longitude
+38.76052, -86.28283   (decimal degrees)
38°45'38" N, 86°16'58" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
16/562310/4290445 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Average daily traffic (as of 2016)
Inventory numbers
INNBI 4700027 (Indiana bridge number on the National Bridge Inventory)
BH 16496 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection report (as of June 2018)
Overall condition: Poor
Superstructure condition rating: Imminent Failure (1 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Fair (5 out of 9)
Sufficiency rating: 16.3 (out of 100)
View more at BridgeReports.com

Update Log 

  • July 7, 2021: New photo from Jenise Stewart
  • May 17, 2021: New video from Ed Hollowell
  • April 29, 2021: New video from Satolli Glassmeyer
  • July 21, 2019: New photos from Mike Daffron
  • June 3, 2018: New video from Mike Daffron
  • May 27, 2018: New photos from Mike Daffron
  • May 2, 2017: Updated by Christopher Finigan: Added category "Pin-connected"
  • May 2, 2017: New photos from Mike Daffron
  • April 29, 2017: Updated by Mike Daffron: Added bridge number
  • October 10, 2013: New Street View added by J.P.
  • January 18, 2013: New photo from Tony Dillon
  • January 9, 2012: New photo from Nick
  • April 15, 2010: New Street View added by J.P.
  • April 9, 2010: New Street View added by Nathan Holth
  • April 5, 2010: New photos from James McCray
  • February 9, 2010: New photos from Anthony Dillon
  • January 14, 2010: New photos from Anthony Dillon
  • June 10, 2009: New photos from Anthony Dillon
  • June 24, 2008: New photos from Tom Hall
  • December 4, 2006: Posted photos from Joshua Collins


  • Joshua Collins - Bigjc1979 [at] aol [dot] com
  • Tom Hall - thomas [dot] hall [at] ffni [dot] com
  • Tony Dillon - spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com
  • James McCray - jamesinslocomb [at] yahoo [dot] com
  • Nathan Holth
  • J.P. - wildcatjon2000 [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Nick
  • Historicbridges.org - by Nathan Holth
  • Mike Daffron - daffmikron [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Satolli Glassmeyer - info [at] scenicroadrallies [dot] com
  • Ed Hollowell - erhollowell [at] aol [dot] com


Fort Ritner Bridge
Posted May 19, 2021, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

I don't remember what was spent on the Brooks Bridge, but even that was only to address the most critical things. I remember the cover plates on the top chords had some issues that weren't addressed. I do seem to remember some of the things you were speaking of... pack rust and section loss at the lower pin connections that were addressed.

Fort Ritner Bridge
Posted May 19, 2021, by Anthony Marino (amarino [at] indot [dot] in [dot] gov)

Hi Nathan - when I did my bridge inspections, there was a fair amount of pack rust and pronounced section loss in numerous members at the pin joints. The section loss was not easy to quantify as it took a lot of chipping and scratch brush cleaning to remove enough of the pack rust to get a good look (and good measurements so that I could complete the load rating). I remember it took myself and another inspector nearly an entire day to inspect. When I was just recently out there, I didn't really look too hard but much of the deterioration was about what I remembered.

This bridge could be rehabilitated; the big question is to what level of service and load carrying capacity is desired. The problem that I often saw on many county bridges with restrictive load limits posted was the large number of very heavy farm equipment that routinely ignored these posted load limits (in fact, I saw many load limit signs vandalized and even shot up). Farmers have large, heavy vehicles and I wouldn't put it past those living near this bridge to drive across it if it was re-opened (even for a limited capacity). Back in the day, our firm did rough out some very preliminary rehabilitation costs on a few options for the county, but nothing ever came about it.

I've been away from county bridge inspections for some time and I'm not sure what is in store for its future. I do worry that the bridge will eventually look like a scene from the History Channel's "Life After People" show, and do worry about someone getting hurt on this bridge.

Right now, this bridge only gets brief inspections to make sure that it is safely closed. For it to be reopened, it would have to undergo comprehensive routine, fracture critical, and underwater inspections. I don't recall the time limit, but if a bridge remains out of service for a period of time, FHWA and INDOT will not pay for future inspections (at least that was the policy back then). That could have changed.

Fort Ritner Bridge
Posted May 19, 2021, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

The deck and stringers are bad, but I wonder about the trusses themselves, which are the variable in project scope/cost. Its been a long time since I last visited this bridge, at that time I think the pin plates had pack rust and section loss but overall it seemed like a feasible restoration project.

Fort Ritner Bridge
Posted May 19, 2021, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

It is definitely sad to see such a majestic structure deteriorate like this as it deserves so much better. The last I had heard was that Washington County was interested in applying for funds to do a rehab, but Lawrence (doesn't surprise me) wasn't interested. Supposedly that was even stipulated by Lawrence County when they scrapped the Guthrie Creek Bridge (#54)... That they would work to save the Ft. Ritner Bridge. If Martin County could restore the similar Brooks Bridge by itself, there is no excuse that these two counties can't work together to save this one!

Fort Ritner Bridge
Posted May 19, 2021, by Anthony Marino (amarino [at] indot [dot] in [dot] gov)

Ed - you are correct. I was out in this area on field checks about a month ago and made a quick visit to see how this bridge was doing (I was responsible for two bridge inspections in 2010 and 2012 when I was in private practice). There are actually two holes in the deck and I attached a couple photos of these holes. The steel stringers underneath at these holes actually didn't look too bad from a visual standpoint. This bridge actually appeared in worse condition since my bridge inspections. I'm really concerned about the deterioration of the stringer beams at the Lawrence County abutment end. There is serious corrosion, delamination, and extensive section loss to the steel; in fact, the bridge deck topside at this end is badly sagging.

It is sad to see how bad this bridge has deteriorated. Back in the day, I did load rating calculations that allowed the county to open it up for limited use with a 3 Ton weight limit. This is no way that I could justify such a finding today.

Fort Ritner Bridge
Posted May 17, 2021, by Mike Daffron (daffmikron [at] gmail [dot] com)

$%$##^*& &^%$#%*!!!!!!

Fort Ritner Bridge
Posted May 17, 2021, by Ed Hollowell (erhollowell [at] aol [dot] com)

Sometime since the last post here a fire was set on the bridge floor and, though it was put out there is now a hole in the floor several feet across.

Fort Ritner Bridge
Posted May 27, 2018, by Mike Daffron (daffmikron [at] gmail [dot] com)

One of the several treasures that we have in Indiana. And Brian Toone, you got more nerve than I have!

Fort Ritner Bridge
Posted December 2, 2016, by Brian Toone (kartoone76 [at] gmail [dot] com)

I crossed the bridge Thursday, November 24th on my bicycle in the rain (very, very slick) on my way up to Northern Indiana for Thanksgiving. It was raining and quite cold so I only took a few pics.

Fort Ritner Bridge
Posted September 19, 2016, by James Baughn (webmaster [at] bridgehunter [dot] com)

On the subject of the Fort Ritner Bridge, the new book "Reflections: A Bicentennial History of Washington County" features a photo of the bridge on the cover. The reason I mention this is that I produced the county map for the book's inside front cover, and the editor just sent me a copy. Very nice.

Fort Ritner Bridge
Posted September 19, 2016, by Mike Daffron (daffronmike [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Did you visit Guthrie Creek Bridge nearby? it is, supposedly, on the chopping block

Fort Ritner Bridge
Posted September 19, 2016, by Christopher Della Rocco (cfdellarocco [at] gmail [dot] com)

Went to the bridge yesterday, Sept. 18, 2016 and it's still closed and the deck boards are really sagging. There are piles of rocks at both approaches and rails welded across. Not looking good...

Fort Ritner Bridge
Posted May 9, 2014, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)


Thanks for sharing. That meeting must have been a joy to attend. While a hostile attitude is fun, I have yet to see a case where it produces the desired results.


Art S.

Fort Ritner Bridge
Posted May 9, 2014, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

If this article is indeed correct, then this is only a short-term closure...


Mr. Dillon (Absolutely NO relation!) has had my ire over the past couple years for replacing SELECT bridges on the Indiana Historic Bridge Inventory. I would be crazy to say that I am completely comfortable with hearing his desire to save this incredible structure (from a believability standpoint). However, since this bridge was wrongly labeled by an overpaid consulting firm, I will certainly hold out hope that this comes to pass!

It does sound like a concrete arch (#77) has either been replaced or heavily altered.

Fort Ritner Bridge
Posted May 8, 2014, by James Simmons (james [at] simmons [dot] net)

As of May 2014 this bridge is permanently closed. Guardrails have been welded across the portals to keep cars out.

Fort Ritner Bridge
Posted October 20, 2013, by gary stephens (rebel9668 [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Went to the old bridge again yesterday, going to try to load a few pictures this time.

Fort Ritner Bridge
Posted October 14, 2013, by Jeff Shroyer (shroyer100 [at] aol [dot] com)

In my 42 years of hunting down historic bridges, this is the first one I have seen with a 2 Ton Load Limit. I also got lost trying to find this one. If you're going south from Ft. Ritner (the town), the road makes a jog and I missed it because the corn was about 12' tall when I was there in late August 2013. Beautiful bridge!

Fort Ritner Bridge
Posted September 21, 2013, by gary stephens (rebel9668 [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Still here and still open, I drove across last week.

Fort Ritner Bridge
Posted May 24, 2011, by Lori Elder (lorielder [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Just wanted to share my son's picture of the Fort Ritner Bridge. He took it with his Iphone in Dec. 2010.

Fort Ritner Bridge
Posted May 20, 2011, by Parker McElhinney (pdme11 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

This one is still there after the floods of Spring 2011, drove over it today. Looks much the same but I did notice a definite sag in the deck about 10 foot wide, all the way across, maybe 4 inches deep, just West of the center pier. Kinda raised an eyebrow as I passed over it but there wasn't even a creak. Shoulda stopped an got a pic but didn't think about it at the time

Fort Ritner Bridge
Posted January 1, 2010, by Harold Scudder (hlscudder [at] cablespeed [dot] com)

Thanks Tony, for the information given. I appreciate your imput.

Fort Ritner Bridge
Posted January 1, 2010, by Anthony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

This "punched" style plaque was used on the Fort Ritner bridge built in 1895, as well as the Brooks Bridge in Martin County built in 1894. These bridges are both extremely long 2-span Pratts, that feature higher trusses more akin to Whipples. The builder chose to use the extra portal bracing to display it's name in a very unique way. Apparently no date of construction or recognition of commissioners were given on these 2 spans.By the time LBC built the Cavanaugh Bridge in 1899, they had chose to use more conventional cast plaques. All of the firms shorter spans used a cast builders plaque, sometimes mated with another plate with the commissioners names.

Fort Ritner Bridge
Posted December 31, 2009, by Harold Scudder (hlscudder [at] cablespeed [dot] com)

Was it a practice of Lafayette Bridge Co, to transform the bridge plaques (ID plates)? I see on these pages various shapes and sizes and as is the case of this particular bridge, the wording is also different. Is the plaque on this bridge a poor reproduction of their other plaques? This one has the name punched out of what looks to be heavy sheet metal as opposed to a mold that we are used to seeing. I have looked at all of the Indiana bridges probably many times over and hadn't notice this particular plaque on the Lafayette bridges until just now.

Fort Ritner Bridge
Posted March 9, 2009, by Rick McOmber (r [dot] mcomber [at] comcast [dot] net)

You mention the Brooks Bridge, is there any set timeline for restoration of this bridge?

Fort Ritner Bridge
Posted March 8, 2009, by anthony dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Hopefully with Martin County restoring the Brooks Bridge, Lawrence and Washington Counties will follow suite. These two bridges are very similar (with the Brooks Bridge being slightly longer), and are in locations where rehabilitation makes more sense. Unfortunately, common sense and commissioners don't seem to get together very often.

Fort Ritner Bridge
Posted March 8, 2009, by Bill (wmarsh [dot] wp [at] gmail [dot] com)

I was just there yesterday, it's still standing and open to vehicle traffic. Seemed in about the same state of repair as the 2007 comment indicates.

Fort Ritner Bridge
Posted May 20, 2007, by Tom Hoffman (tehoffm [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Yes, this great bridge still does exist. I don't mean to be negative but unfortunately it appears to have been neglected and in great need of attention. The stonework on the pier and abutments, the wooden deck , and the trusses are all need attention if it to stick around much longer. Also I can't believe it is open for traffic. It would be a terrible shame to let the bridge fall beyond repair. There are not many of these two span bridges left so I would like to see this one as well as some other White River Bridges in the area get the attention and rehab they deserve!

Fort Ritner Bridge
Posted March 25, 2007, by Anthony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

I got lost looking for this bridge, glad to see it does exist!

Fort Ritner Bridge
Posted December 14, 2006, by Chad Kelham (ckelham [at] ballstate [dot] bsu [dot] edu)

Finally!! We've got a pic for the Fort Ritner bridge up.

Like the Sparksville bridge a few miles east, this through truss bridge is one of the most noteworthy bridges around not only in southern Indiana but the whole state. It's an awesome feeling just seeing this puppy for the first time in all of its ragged (but beautiful) glory.