GREENE COUNTY VIADUCT CENTENNIAL PROGRAM
The Greene County Viaduct, also referred to as the Tulip Trestle, is a majestic structure located in a remote rural area known as Richland Creek Valley in eastern Greene County, Indiana. Built in 1906 to solve the problem of shortening the distance through rough terrain to save money, the viaduct was constructed by the Indianapolis Southern Railroad and secretly financed by the Illinois Central Railroad to provide a commercial route for transporting coal.
Greene County Viaduct
Although mighty in size, the viaduct has gone virtually unnoticed since its completion. Except for the dedication on Monday, December 17, 1906, it has never been showered with much publicity until its centennial celebration in 2006.
The 100th anniversary of the completion of the viaduct was observed with a spectacular program on Sunday, October 15, 2006, at 2 p.m. near the base of the historic landmark. Although the sky was overcast and a definite feeling of fall was in the air on the day of the event, the people who gathered were warm-hearted and friendly as they visited and viewed the structure towering above them.
Site of Centennial Program
The program was conducted on private property owned by Jack Craig, located just north of the viaduct. People were asked to bring lawn chairs as the activities were held in an open field.
Audience Starting to Gather
Linda Edwards Sharp, president of Greene County Historical Society, organized and conducted the program at the viaduct.
Linda Edwards Sharp, President Greene County Historical Society
The program opened with the audience reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Following a short business meeting, local railroad historian Larry Shute of Solsberry spoke about the history of the viaduct and its importance to the area.
Larry Shute, Local Railroad Historian
Kerry Conway, executive director of the Greene County Foundation discussed how contributions made to the foundation are place in a fund that is invested. The interest made from the investment is then dispensed to service and charity organizations. A contributor can designate where he/she wants the interest from the donated money to be given. The Greene County Historical Society is one of the organizations that may be designated as a recipient of money earned from this fund.
Kerry Conway, Executive Director Greene County Foundation
Photographs of the viaduct taken by Cheryl Helms of Bloomfield were on display. During the program Helms explained how she became interested in photographing the viaduct and the impact it has had upon her life.
Cheryl Helms, Photographer
Fred Allen of Linton, another featured speaker, gave information about the old steam engines that once pulled the trains across the viaduct.
Fred Allen, Steam Engine Historian
Musical entertainment was provided by the Guthrie Brothers of Bedford, who play string instrumental music and sang songs from the railroad era. The audience was invited to sing along with the music.
The highlight of the program was undoubtedly the Indiana Rail Road train traveling across the viaduct to the delight of the entire crowd watching from ground level. Prior to the train crossing the viaduct, two men in a pick-up truck from the Indiana Rail Road drove near the viaduct and communicated using a two-way radio with the engineer to give him the ”all clear“ signal to proceed. Two bright red Indiana Rail Road locomotives pulling a large number of coal cars slowly appeared at the east end of the viaduct just as Larry Shute ended his speech.
Indiana Rail Road Train Crossing the Viaduct.
Refreshments and a social gathering, which followed the program, provided an opportunity for members of the audience to visit with the speakers.
Larry Shute with His Miniature Locomotive Collection
Copies of the 16-page viaduct centennial edition, which was organized by assignments editor Nick Schneider and published on Friday, October 13, 2006, by The Daily World, were provided free to the audience.
Dale French with the Centennial Edition
Linda Sharp’s new book entitled Greene County Viaduct: 1906-2006--Anniversary Stories about the People Who Made It What It Is was available for sale at the program. The book sold out during the afternoon, and orders were taken as it was announced that another printing would be made of the book.
Viaduct Book by Linda Sharp
Before leaving the site of the Viaduct Centennial Program, Keith and Linda Long along with family friend Dale French became members of the Greene County Historical Society. They decided that the Viaduct Centennial would be a great way to remember the anniversary date of their membership into the organization. In addition, they wanted to show their support to the organization for celebrating the 100th anniversary of the viaduct in Greene County.
Linda Long, Keith Long, and Dale French Attending Centennial Program
The viaduct program proved to be a fitting and proper tribute for a “grand lady” of her stature and importance. The viaduct is still the “people magnet” that it was a century ago. It still has the power of amazing those who see it standing majestically in the Richland Creek Valley−regardless of the number of times a person has viewed it.