Batesville Indiana, The Old Iron Bridge
Many people remember crossing this historic bridge as they entered or left Batesville Indiana. Offering passage over the busy New York Central Railroad tracks, it became an icon of the community.
Having been constructed many years before, it had become too narrow for modern day traffic. Tales were told about how two cars couldn’t meet on the bridge, people would often wait on one side or the other for an approaching car to safely pass before proceeding on.
However this myth just wasn’t true, I remember one night. I was driving my brand spanking new 1965 Ford Fairlane Convertible to Napoleon to see some friends. I may have been going slightly over the posted speed limit. Thinking of everything but my driving, I suddenly found myself and an approaching car meeting in the middle of the structure.
There was no time to stop, slowing down to the speed of sound and easing over as far to the right as I could, we safely passed and both went on our way. No harm , no foul.
Among the younger male crowd there was also a long standing tradition to see who could drive from the bridge to Youngman’s Garage in Napoleon in the shortest amount of time.
At that time,the world’s record was held by another Napeleonite at 9 minutes and 40 seconds. Jim Youngman , my trusty navigator and timekeeper and I knew, that with proper planning, we could set a new all time world’s record.
Anyone who knows the area realizes that the 13 miles of highway between Napoleon and Batesville is extremely hilly and curvy, making it very difficult to make any real time. This would take some thought.
After discussing our attempt at the world record for many weeks, charting the course, and deciding the best possible time to attempt the historic run, we decided that just before dark would be desirable, as there was less traffic on the roads. Safety was one of our main concerns as we wanted ourselves and others to live to tell about it.
There were no rules as to what route we needed to take, so it was decided to take the Salem Church Road,and turn right on county road 350W, thereby eliminating some curves and hills. It would also mean we would need to travel less distance in Napoleon,we could save some time by eliminating as much town driving as possible.
The appointed time had arrived, it was time to make history! Entering the bridge in my 1952 Pontiac ,straight eight, four door sedan , no one was coming and race was on! Luck was with us as we raced down 229, not a car was in sight, all was going well as we made the right turn onto Salem Church Road, we could see that a new world’s record was within reach.
Turning left onto CR350W , it was only a matter of time until a new champion was crowned.
As we made the right turn onto Wilson Street in Napoleon , we were on the homestretch, all we had to worry about was crossing busy Hwy 421 , luck was still on our side, not a car in sight. With smoking brakes and a smile on our face, we coasted into Youngman’s Garage parking lot. The Timex told the story: 9 minutes 30 seconds.
We were the champs, we had gotten our 15 minutes of fame in 9 minutes and 30 seconds.
Several years later, as highway traffic increased and rail traffic decreased, the bridge was torn down and replaced with a grade crossing. Can’t have any fun at all anymore.
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Gary has been a writer/ photographer for over 20 years, specializing in nature,landscapes and studying native cultures.Besides visiting most of the United States, he has traveled to such places as Egypt,the Canary Islands,much of the Caribbean. He has studied the Mayan Cultures in Central America, and the Australian Aboriginal way of life.Photography has given him the opportunity to observe life in many different parts of the world!
He has published several books about the various cultures he has observed.
For more information and a link to his hard cover and Ebooks,and contact information: please check his website.www.commonsensejourneys.com
Your comments appreciated
There is an extreme shortage of common sense in today’s world,
I often think back to what my parents and grandparents believed and said, at the time I thought they were totally out of their mind and ignored it. I now wish I would have listened and followed their advice more often.
It is in this light I have decided to publish some of my random thoughts based on the views of our ancestors.