For the nearly 3,000 people that call Delphi home, the Monon High Bridge is a treasure.
The bridge has been used as a backdrop for photo shoots like senior pictures, wedding photos, or to simply capture the beauty of the untouched nature that surrounds it.
That’s what best friends Liberty German and Abigail Williams were doing the day they went missing – taking photos on the bridge – like so many others before them.
Their deaths have cast a shadow on the majestic landmark.
Now the most recognizable images of the bridge are of a photo from Libby's Snapchat of Abby walking across it in what would be the last time either of the two would be seen alive, and of an unrecognizable man in a blue coat following in the girls’ footsteps – their suspected killer.
The Monon High Bridge was built in 1891.
At 63-feet, the bridge is believed to be Indiana’s second tallest bridge.
It carried trains high above Deer Creek until it was abandoned by CSX in 1987.
The abandoned railroad bridge has since become a popular attraction for people who live in the area, despite its disrepair and exclusion from the official Delphi Historic Trail System.
Indiana Landmarks put the bridge on its 10 Most Endangered List in 2016.
The Delphi Historic Trail system runs through the valley of the Wabash River in northwest central Indiana.
The trail system follows sections of Deer Creek and travels past historic downtown Delphi all along former railroad beds.
The 10-mile Delphi Historic Trails system is comprised of eight miles of urban “street” trails. They take hikers and bikers past architectural gems.
Since the murders, Indiana Landmarks placed a temporary fence at the north end of the bridge and a sign warning against trespassing.
The group hopes to restore the bridge and re-open it as part of Delphi’s trail system.
The repairs are expected to cost $121,000.
The bridge is still owned by CSX but Indiana Landmarks hopes to take ownership of it by the end of June so that they can begin repairs on the historic site.
The Future of the Trail
Abby & Libby’s bodies were found less than a mile from the Monon High Bridge, prompting a heightened safety concern on the trails around the bridge
In the wake of the tragedy, the city’s historic trails association launched a Trail Safety Task Force to discuss improvements to the 10-mile system and work on ways to keep their trails safe.
The task force includes members of the community, law enforcement, trail organizations and schools.
The task force will examine safety improvements along Delphi’s historic trail system.
The task force is looking into the following ideas:
The task force is looking into:
- Educating the public on safety
- Adding cameras
- Mapping and coordinating locations for 911 identification
- Placing appropriate signs
- Utilizing safety stations
- Conducting patrols
A few cameras will be installed near parking areas and the group is still working to raise money for other improvements.
The Wabash & Erie Canal Association is collecting donations for safety upgrades and several fundraisers have also been planned, including a 5K benefit run that is set for June.
Despite the high-profile investigation into the girls’ murders, many families still visit the trails surrounding the bridge.
Zoey Fewell , a former classmate of Abby and Libby, has enjoyed walking the trails for many years.
“It’s really scary to think that it happened during the day and that it could happen to anyone, especially since I’ve walked on these trails before,” said Fewell.
Fewell said her parents used to let her walk the trail with friends too.
“We walked all the way across the bridge and we took pictures and everything,” said Fewell.
After the murders, Fewell’s mother now comes along on hikes.
“Every time that I go out now, I always make sure I have somebody else with me,” said Fewell. “I always make sure that our phones are charged."
Fewell said as she walks the trails, she imagines how she would handle what Abby and Libby encountered.
"I can't begin to image what I would do,” said Fewell. “I still feel really bad for what happened."
Zoey Fewell hopes Delphi can heal one step at a time.
“I feel like everything will get back to normal when they catch the person and try and get justice for what happened." said Fewell.