#ThrowbackThursday: New Harmony Toll Bridge

*Post written by James Wethington, library assistant of the University Archives and Special Collections.

Harmony Way Bridge construction, 1930. Source: Don Blair Collection, MSS 247-4653.

If you travel throughout Evansville and the Tri-State, there were numerous bridges to use to cross various creeks and rivers such as Pigeon Creek and the Ohio River. None is more iconic in the Tri-State and well known than the New Harmony Bridge.

In 1928, the New Harmony Commercial Club wanted “… the Indiana highway commission to take over the Harmony Way and secure a bridge over the Wabash river here [and was] assured by Congressman [Harry] Rowbottom that a bill would be introduced and passed providing for construction of a bridge at New Harmony” (“Boost span”, 1928). By the end of 1928, the bridge construction was approved. According to the Evansville Press (“Action Taken”, 1928), “The new bridge when constructed, will shorten the route from Evansville to St. Louis by approximately 100 miles, the bridge at Vincennes, at the present time, being the only one available when ferries are not in operation on account of floods and ice”.

After two years of construction, the New Harmony Bridge opened on December 30, 1930. It costed $800,000 to build and spanning over 2,500 feet. The bridge connected New Harmony, Indiana with Crossville, Illinois. Both state governors Louis Emmerson of Illinois and Harry Leslie of Indiana participated in the grand opening (“New Harmony”, 1930). Sadly, the bridge lasted until its closure on May 29, 2012 because of “… the structure were deficient” (Hartsock, 2012).

Dr. David Black, Assistant Professor of Radio and Television at USI produced a documentary on the history of the bridge titled, In Harmony’s Way: The battle to save a bridge. It can be viewed on online at,

At the University Archives and Special Collections, local photographer and New Harmony resident, Don Blair, have close to two hundred photographs of the Harmony Way Bridge. The University Archives and Special Collections has other local photographers’ collections such as the Thomas Mueller, Sonny Brown, Gregory Smith, and many more available on our online digital gallery.


Action taken on bridge at New Harmony (1928, December 28). Evansville Press, p. 1. Retrieved from

Boost span at New Harmony (1928, January 14). Evansville Press, p. 14. Retrieved from

New Harmony bridge puts states closer together for trade (1930, December 21). Sunday Courier and Journal, p. 16. Retrieved from

Hartsock, S. (2012, May 31). No more bridge to New Harmony. Retrieved on November 10, 2017, from