MONON HIGH BRIDGE TRAIL
The Monon High Bridge Trail is a historical trail that follows the Monon Railroad right-of-way from eastern Delphi crossing Indiana Highway 25 (Hoosier Heartland Highway) on its way to the Monon High Bridge over Deer Creek. This trail has several benches, three kiosks with surveillance cameras, two plazas, and a bridge from Freedom Indiana. The trail is relaxing through a heavily wooded area, with beautiful and expansive views of Deer Creek. The area celebrates its railroad history with a carving of steam locomotive 765 (Nickel Plate Road 765 based out of Fort Wayne) at the far end of the Freedom Bridge.
County: Carroll County
Mileage: 1.5 miles
West Endpoint (B) – General: Old State Road 25
East Endpoint (A) – General: Deer Creek
Direction to A from B: Eastward
Near US Highway: US Highway 421
Type of Trail: Rail Trail
Uses allowed: walking, biking, rollerblading
Wheelchairs allowed: yes
Which uses NOT allowed: no firearms, no motor vehicles
Attractive Features: Bridge over Deer Creek. Original construction on the unfinished portion of the trail. Rest area overlooking Deer Creek. Cameras for security at Kiosks.
Monon High Bridge Dedicated
From City of Delphi Website
Thursday, 14 September 2023
At 1 p.m. on September 6, representatives of the City of Delphi, Indiana Landmarks, and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources along with invited guests formally dedicated the newly completed Monon High Bridge Trail. Decades in the making, the successful completion of this beautiful 1.5-mile trail is the culmination of successful partnerships and general financial support.
The former rail corridor had become an unofficial trail after it was vacated by CSX Transportation in the late 1980s. The historic Monon High Bridge, the trail’s namesake, had been a
de facto pedestrian bridge since its construction in 1891. The idea of integrating the Monon High Bridge and rail corridor into a community trail system was hatched in the late 1990s but didn’t gain significant steam until 2012 when statewide preservation nonprofit Indiana Landmarks and local preservation partners Heartland Heritage, Inc. and Delphi Preservation Society were presented an opportunity to initiate formal negotiations with CSX Transportation.
With support from the Indiana Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology and the Federal Surface Transportation Board, Indiana Landmarks submitted a formal proposal to CSX Transportation in late 2016 with acceptance by the rail company in early 2017. Following months of pre-development work, the bridge and nearly half mile of approach was transferred by CSX Transportation to Indiana Landmarks which immediately began stabilization and repair to a severely damaged support pier. This work was completed in late 2019.
“Stabilization of the damaged pier, which prompted Indiana Landmarks to include the bridge on our 2016 10 Most Endangered list, was critical to the effort. The repaired pier ensured the preservation of this landmark span for yet another century,” said Tommy Kleckner, Western Regional director for Indiana Landmarks. “A generous grant of $248,000 from North Central Health Services allowed us to proceed with the next phase of the Monon High Bridge rehabilitation project, the installation of decking and railing on west quarter of the bridge to allow for safe pedestrian use.”
Coinciding with the bridge rehabilitation project was the City of Delphi’s pursuit of funding to develop a finished ADA compliant pedestrian & bicycle trail from the east edge of the city to the Monon High Bridge. A $1.25 million grant from the State of Indiana’s Next Level Trails program administered by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources propelled the Monon High Bridge Trail project forward. Work included the creation of Miller Park with a new trailhead and parking area, an intensive slope stabilization project, paving of the trail, and installation of lighting, trail cameras, and information kiosks. “This stunning trail connects heritage sites such as the Centennial and Bicentennial monuments with the repurposed Freedom Bridge over SR 25 to the Veterans Memorial Plaza with its massive Monon train engine etched in granite, then onward to the iconic High Bridge overlooking Deer Creek,” stated Delphi Mayor Anita Werling.
Following COVID-related project delays, installation of the new prefabricated decking and custom steel railing system on the west portion of the Monon High Bridge began in earnest in the fall of 2022 with completion achieved by year’s end. “The decking and railing system turned out better than I expected. The Monon High Bridge is now safely accessible to the public, affording breathtaking views of the Deer Creek Valley from the landmark span,” added Kleckner.
Additional funding support for the trail and bridge rehabilitation project was provided by CSX Transportation, Deer Creek Township, the Efroymson Family Fund of the Central Indiana Community Foundation, and the Indiana Trails Fund.