Casey, Chris and Corey at the Tulip Trestle

Tulip Trestle is the world’s third-longest railroad viaduct and the longest rail trestle in the USA. We discovered it by accident when looking for good riding roads on Google Maps. Looking down from the sky, we saw its huge shadow cast out over one section of railroad. Once we looked into its history, we had to take the 100-mile trip to go see it; here’s our ride report…

This was a road trip taken and recorded by Wilkinson Bros along with their good friend and colleague, Chris Sickels of Red Nose Studio.

We charted a route through some great country roads on the way to the trestle, which is located between the towns of Solsberry and Tulip, Indiana. During our jaunt from Central to Southern Indiana, we crossed over or under the same railroad tracks more than 10 times, passing lakes, forests and farms on gravel roads and broken pavement.

Riding on Railroad Road

Casey rode his 1987 Kawasaki KLR 650, Chris rode his 1966 BMW R60/2 and Corey rode the 2010 Ural Red October. State Road 45 between Bean Blossom and Bloomington was especially twisty and scenic. We took a few roads that beckoned us off the beaten path including one that led us under another large, steel railroad trestle near Lake Lemon.

Tulip Trestle

If you’re like us, you often wish you took more pictures during motorcycle travel. The thought is always lingering in our minds. In the pic above, Chris captured Corey filming Casey’s ride-by. While we recommend enjoying your ride more than worrying about stopping, starting and setting up photo shoots, we’re always glad to have photos like this in our moto scrapbook. Moral of the story: Don’t stress about missing Kodak moments, but don’t regret passing up too many opportunities.

Yoho General Store

When you ride long enough, you’re sure to encounter small-town burgs with at least one untethered dog roaming the quiet streets like it has a key to the city. We were first-time visitors to the Yoho General Store in Solsberry, IN, and these pups didn’t waste any time greeting us.

Friendly locals at Yoho General Store

Dinner at Yoho General Store

We weren’t surprised to get friendly service and good eatin’ at this restaurant/gas station/convenience store. There are no stuffy uniforms or name tags and the old wooden floor provided pitch-perfect creaking and thunk-thunking as we walked to our table (which sat by the original potbelly stove). Read an article about the Yoho General Store here.

Chris and Corey Riding to the Tulip Trestle

The above view from Casey’s KLR650 shows how the terrain starts to fall and rise leading up to Tulip Trestle, which spans the Richland Creek Valley.

A Ride to Tulip Trestle

Rolling hills and farm country envelop this big ol’ rural relic.

We learned this bridge is known by several different names. We like “Tulip Trestle,” but also acceptable is Richland Creek Viaduct, Tulip Viaduct, Greene County Viaduct and, the more technical label, Bridge X75-6. If we told you it was built in 1905 and 1906 and hasn’t had any major work done to it since then, you might be surprised to hear it’s still used daily by the Indiana Rail Road.

BMW at the Tulip Trestle

We were lucky to have beautiful, mid-70-degree weather on this early Fall weekend.

After leaving the Yoho General Store, it isn’t all that easy to find if you’re just winging it. We relied on a few, small, laminated posters tacked to sign posts, that pointed us in the right direction.

Riding to the Tulip Trestle

After 100 miles of rural highways, bumpy backroads and gravel off-shoots, we dig out the cameras and get all tourist-like.

The viaduct spans approximately 2300 feet out over Greene County farmland; land that’s still owned by the family whose patriarchs saw it being built. At its highest point, it’s 157 feet tall and, although it once had several walk-outs placed along the sides, it has no railing and is only wide enough for a train to fit. In other words, there ain’t nowhere to go if a train snuck up on you. (FYI: The trains slow way down when crossing.)

Tulip Trestle Polaroids

Chris Sickels’ scans of the Polaroid pics he shot under the trestle.

We’ve heard some colorful stories from folks who live in the area or who have visited Tulip Trestle. For instance, when the bridge was completed, trains would stop at one end and let locals hop on for a ride across. Steel workers were paid 30¢ an hour, which was considered good pay back then. Several companies worked on the project, some from as far away as Chicago, and people would come watch the laborers while picnicking in the fields nearby.

Tulip Trestle Old Photos

The total cost to build the viaduct? $246,504. Total weight comes in at almost 6 million pounds (2895 tons). It’s also been recorded that large barrels of water sat on platforms along the viaduct in case of a fire back in the steam locomotive era. While we were standing in one of the gravel areas nearby, an old fella was showing his grandson the bridge. He confided in Chris that he had walked across the entire length of the viaduct, twice, when he was young.

Aerial Photo by Bruce Dally

If you’re around the area of Tulip or Solsberry, Indiana, it’s worth a quick trip to see this massive steel structure. There are a couple pull-offs, but keep in mind, the land around and under the trestle is owned by the railroad or is the private property of local farmers. Word on the street is that you’d be trespassing if you wanted a rail-level view of the land. There’s an evident, beat-down trail headed up to the West end of the bridge and we didn’t see any signs thwarting the climb (at the time of this post anyway). Fencing and signs do make their presence known at the top (ahem…so we’ve heard), stating that the book may be thrown at ya if you step out onto the tracks.

Aerial Photo by Bruce Dally

These two aerial photos above were taken by Bruce Dally with his drone/copter cam. See his full video, where he captures a train crossing the picturesque landscape.

Thanks for tuning in to Good Spark Garage and joining us on our travels. If you like what you read, please tell your motorcycle friends so we can share our stories with them as well.

Stay tuned to see where we go next!

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12 Responses to A Ride to Tulip Trestle

  1. Joel Cramer says:

    Nice work, as always.

  2. Joachim "JoJo", Germany says:

    Really great work showing one of the hidden places. Being an URAL rider myself I appreciate your pictures and comments. Keep on the good work !!!

  3. Jayme says:

    I was working at the Yoho General the day you visited. It was great to have you guys stop by! Thanks so much for the kind words about us in your article! Glad you made the trip.

  4. Glenn Doane says:

    Grew up about 5 miles from there.Lots of “adventures” !! Go back every chance I get.

  5. Paula Schmidt-Ginn says:

    Oh, the memories…

  6. Bruce says:

    Wow, just found your website thru ADVRider. Tons of interesting info on here. I watched the video on the Tulip Trestle and it brought back memories of a church camp I attended many times back in the 70’s. We would yearly hike to the trestle(about 2 miles) and hang out for the day in the creek, etc. My wife and I attended there together many times as kids, and we plan on riding the GS back up there again in 2015 as we celebrate 30 years of marriage.

    • Corey says:

      Hi, Bruce. Glad you found your way over to Good Spark and glad this article brought back some fond memories! Thanks for stopping by and we hope you have a great ride back to the trestle. -corey @ GSG

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