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National Road Bridge


Published prior to 1923

BH Photo #393505



Lost covered through truss bridge over White River on National Road
Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana
No longer exists
Built in 1832 at a cost of $10,000. Replaced in 1902.
- William Wernweg & Walter Blake
Through truss
Approximate latitude, longitude
+39.76784, -86.17471   (decimal degrees)
39°46'04" N, 86°10'29" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
16/570685/4402315 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Indianapolis West
Inventory number
BH 77561 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • March 26, 2020: Updated by Art Suckewer: added pictures and corrected history.
  • June 7, 2017: Added by Dave King

Related Bridges 


  • Dave King - DKinghawkfan [at] hotmail [dot] com
  • Art Suckewer - Asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com


National Road Bridge
Posted January 2, 2020, by Brigette S. Cook Jones (bscjones [at] msn [dot] com)

There were two bridges that crossed the White River at this location. Jim Grey is correct.

We need to remember that the National Road is not always synonymous with Washington St.

The National Road Covered Bridge was built by William Wernwag in 1834. This structure would stand until 1902. We need to remember that at the time of its construction, Indianapolis was only a mile square. So "Washington Street" did not extend outside of the city limits.

Eventually, Washington St did extend out to the White River, and it followed the path of the National Road. That is - it followed the National Road until you got to the river.

The approach to the Covered Bridge was at an angle to the river, so instead of heading straight west, the National Road angled sharply Northwest to meet the bridge entrance. This was the only way across the river. So as Washington St extended as the city grew - it followed the National Road.

However, in 1870 - 72, the first "Washington St" bridge was built across the White River, which took you straight west across the river. So there were two bridges at this crossing - the National Road bridge - a wooden, covered bridge, and the Washington St bridge an iron bridge. The road that angled Northwest from Washington St to meet the old National Road bridge was renamed Washington Ave. Both bridges terminated on the western side of the river - right next to each other.

These two bridges would exist together until 1902.

In 1902, it was determined that the Washington St bridge needed to be enlarged with a wider deck. However, the western terminus of the wooden covered bridge was in the way. So both bridges were torn down, and a larger Washington St bridge that traveled straight west replaced them both in 1904.

This was the bridge that was taken out in the flood of 1913.

National Road Bridge
Posted July 23, 2018, by Jim Grey (mobilene [at] gmail [dot] com)

This article from the 29 Jun 1901 Indianapolis News confirms that there were twin bridges here, and that a new bridge would be built to replace them both. The drawing doesn't much resemble the bridge that got built.

National Road Bridge
Posted July 22, 2018, by Jim Grey (mobilene [at] gmail [dot] com)

Continuing to research this, I found this site with photos of the Washington St. bridge as it was on the day of the 1913 flood. It is clearly not a wooden covered bridge.


National Road Bridge
Posted July 22, 2018, by Jim Grey (mobilene [at] gmail [dot] com)

I find evidence that there were two bridges here at once: one that followed the old National Road alignment and another that followed the Washington St. alignment. The two map excerpts, from 1889 and 1903 (respectively, below), show it. I also found an 1852 map of Indiana, with an Indianapolis inset, at the Library of Congress that shows only one bridge, on the National Road alignment.

Does anybody have greater knowledge or research to share on this?