Over the weekend, we traveled to Bloomington where Daughter #1 was being honored at Founders Day. It was the beginning of spring break here, so I decided it was doable to make the three-hour trip for the ceremony.
I always like to do a few extra things on jaunts like these, and Daughter #2 had a great idea: stopping to see Tulip Trestle Viaduct.
Tulip Trestle Viaduct
The viaduct is located about 20 miles southwest of Bloomington. It surprised me just how quickly we went from small college town to way out in the boonies. Parts of the roads were gravel, windy, and we had a few “roller coaster moments” as well. It’s located near the towns of Solsberry and Tulip, and if you’ve never heard of these, don’t feel bad. I lived in Bloomington for over three years and I never had, either.
We saw a railroad track alongside our roads on part of the drive, so we knew we were in the right area.
Then suddenly, there it was!
It’s a little hard to get a feel for the scale of this thing, so above you’ll see my daughters walking up to it. It’s huge (157 feet high).
So, what exactly is the Tulip Trestle Viaduct?
- It was built in 1906 and is one of the longest railroad bridges of this type still in use today, at 2307 feet long. So yes, trains still use it, but none came through during our visit.
- At the time it was built, Tulip Trestle was the largest railroad trestle in the world.
- It was built from hill to hill, spanning the Richland Creek Valley. In the trestle’s early days, the valley beneath it was a popular spot for locals to have picnics, play baseball, etc.
- The price to build the viaduct was $246,000. Today, it would cost over $20 million.
- The trestle was built mainly by Italian immigrants, earning .30 per hour (this was considered an excellent wage at the time). Its main purpose was to transport coal from Greene County mines to large cities — although passenger trains used it too, until 1948.
Probably not surprisingly, the lower parts were covered with a bunch of graffiti. And yes, the girls wanted to do a little climbing on in, even though there were warning signs discouraging this.
I loved that there was a Little Free Library by the observation deck, in the shape of a train!
Tulip Trestle Viaduct Trivia
- Once, in the viaduct’s early days, folks were enjoying a picnic beneath the structure when they saw, to their horror, a body falling from the trestle! It turns out that a group of boys had sneaked a dummy to the top of the trestle and dropped it at an opportune time. Yes, apparently people climbed (and still climb) to the very top of this trestle. Gives me the shivers just thinking of that!
Have you ever seen or heard of Tulip Trestle Viaduct?