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Facility Operations employees help construct observation deck at Tulip Trestle landmark

Sept. 16, 2015

IU employees are making a difference on campus as well as in their communities.

Tulip Trestle observation deck

IU Facilities Operations employees helped construct a new observation deck at Tulip Trestle in Greene County. | PHOTO COURTESY OF MIKE LINDSEY

Facility Operations, formerly known as Physical Plant, mason Mike Lindsey, construction craft laborer Austin Corbin, and sheet metal mechanics Bennie Flynn and Josiah Miller recently volunteered their time and expertise to help build an observation deck at Tulip Trestle, known locally as "the viaduct," in Greene County.

Nestled in the hills between Solsberry and Tulip, the steel-girded railroad trestle is 2,307 feet long and 157 feet tall, making it one of the longest bridges of its type in the world, according to Greene County’s tourism website.

The new observation deck was built on a hillside overlooking the trestle and features custom stamped concrete made to look like rustic wooden planks and railroad tracks.

Lindsey, who owns a stamped concrete business in addition to his job at IU, said the project started in late 2014 when his friend and Solsberry historian Larry Shute recruited him to help secure volunteers and funds to build the observation deck.  

“There’s an aspect of pride and community involvement; that’s probably the highlight of it, the fact that it was all donated money, donated labor,” said Lindsey, who lives in Solsberry.

Though plans had called for a wooden structure, it was Lindsey’s idea to use more durable stamped concrete to reduce the need for maintenance and add a decorative touch.

Mike Lindsey works on observation deck

IU mason Mike Lindsey, left, works on installing a stamped concrete base designed to look like rustic wooden planks. | PHOTO COURTESY OF MIKE LINDSEY

Construction of the deck was completed over the summer, and the attraction is now open to the public.

Lindsey said that before the observation deck was built, there was no safe place for visitors to look at the trestle and take photos. Now, he has spoken with a railroad inspector who told him the site sees about 100 visitors per day.

Corbin, who also lives in Solsberry, said he recently drove by the trestle and saw a family having a picnic on the observation deck.

“It was pretty rewarding to be honest,” he said. “I grew up just three or four miles from the viaduct, so I’ve lived there all my life.”

Corbin said he enjoyed working on the project with community members and his fellow Facility Operations employees.

“It just made me realize that there are honest people out there,” he said. “We work with those kind of people, so that’s kind of cool.”

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