Created By: PocketSights Ruthmere Tours
If you look toward Elkhart’s downtown area, the first thing you see is the venerable Main Street Bridge, built in 1927 as the “Memorial Bridge,” to commemorate Elkhart’s young men lost in The Great War -- World War I. Crossing Elkhart’s rivers has always been important for commerce, with or without bridges. The Fort Wayne Road, originally an Indian trail, forded the river (as in: no bridge -- you had to wade across with all your supplies) at about the eastern end of Island Park and came out just down Beardsley Avenue at the Village of Pulaski. One of the first things Havilah Beardsley did when he arrived was to construct a rope ferry across the river a little bit west of the current bridge. Later, he constructed another one almost opposite the point where Ruthmere stands. The rope ferries not only made life easier for settlers and travelers, they made money for Doctor Beardsley. For example, a horse and rider paid twelve and a half cents to cross -- and a wagon with six horses or oxen was seventy-five cents. And that wasn’t small change in the 1830s. The first wooden bridge was built in 1837. When it came time for a new bridge in the 1840s, there was an argument between the Main Street and Second Street Merchants. Each wanted their street to be the new main drag, and therefore wanted the bridge to connect to them. The compromise was to connect to an alley between Main and Second. If the river’s low you might be able to see the original pilings of this bridge, which was replaced in 1871 by an iron bridge on Main. This was followed in 1891 by a steel truss bridge, and finally, in 1927, by the bridge we have today. Next time you go over the Main Street Bridge, remember: you’re not just crossing a river - you’re experiencing Elkhart History.
This Tour has been sponsored by Wellfield Botanic Gardens, located at 1011 North Main Street, Elkhart, IN.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Elkhart's Beardsley Tour (Blue Tour)