News and HeadlinesIndianapolis Local News

Actions

Exploring the magic and science behind Shelby County's Electric Bridge

Screen Shot 2024-05-17 at 4.27.36 PM.png
Screen Shot 2024-05-17 at 4.14.51 PM.png
Screen Shot 2024-05-17 at 4.16.31 PM.png
Screen Shot 2024-05-17 at 4.18.59 PM.png
Screen Shot 2024-05-17 at 4.25.47 PM.png
Screen Shot 2024-05-17 at 4.26.35 PM.png
Screen Shot 2024-05-17 at 4.26.53 PM.png
Screen Shot 2024-05-17 at 4.27.53 PM.png
Screen Shot 2024-05-17 at 4.28.07 PM.png
Posted at 6:26 PM, May 17, 2024

SHELBY COUNTY — There really are some magical places in the world, if you know where to look.

And one of these places is the Electric Bridge, which can be found on a remote stretch of road in farm country northeast of Shelbyville.

When you stand on the Electric Bridge, you hear the low crackling hum emanating from the nearby power lines.

Screen Shot 2024-05-17 at 4.26.53 PM.png
Shelbyville High School science teacher Chris Lux leads a group exploring the wonders of Shelby County's Electric Bridge.

And when you hold a fluorescent bulb in your hand, it lights up.

"The lore is that the troll lives under the bridge and late at night he may electrify the bridge, come out and chase people away," said Chris Lux, a Shelbyville High School science teacher who grew up around here and has known about the bridge for decades.

Lux has never seen the troll, but he knows about the Electric Bridge and its mysterious magical powers, which he said can be explained by science.

"Even though the power lines and the metal bridge aren't touching one another, there is matter between the two. There's air and the air ionizes," Lux said. "It's more of a static electricity where charge is transferred from one object to another."

Screen Shot 2024-05-17 at 4.26.35 PM.png
Shelbyville High School science teacher Chris Lux, left, leads a group exploring the wonders of Shelby County's Electric Bridge.

There are two parts that make this magic work, Lux explained.

The first is the two metal rails on either side of this bridge that crosses the Little Blue River on East Shortblue Road in rural Shelby County.

The second part is the nearby massive power lines, hoisted in the sky by giant towers. These lines crackle and hum, like the loudest bug zapper you've ever heard.

If you touch the railings, you might feel an electric shock. It feels like the static electricity you get when you walk on a rug in socks and touch a door knob.

If you sit on the railing, you don't feel anything. But if someone puts a finger on each side of your temple while you sit on the railing, you both feel a tingle of electric current.

Screen Shot 2024-05-17 at 4.25.47 PM.png
Shelbyville High School science teacher Chris Lux leads a group exploring the wonders of Shelby County's Electric Bridge.

And if you touch a bulb to the railing, or even hold the fluorescent high in the air, it glows.

"There's a magnetic field that sort of makes a circle around each power line," said Wyatt Haacker, a senior at Shelbyville High school who plans to study physics at Notre Dame University. "The electrons go from the line to the metal rails, making it negatively charged and the free electrons come off when you touch it."

There's science and then there's legend — and the troll isn't the only tall-tale sparked by this special bridge.

"There's a lot of lore around here about this bridge because it causes lights and other things to light up around it," said Jacob Harcker, a Shelbyville senior who said he plans to study engineering at Purdue University next year.

Screen Shot 2024-05-17 at 4.27.53 PM.png
Shelbyville High School science teacher Chris Lux leads a group exploring the wonders of Shelby County's Electric Bridge.

The troll is one legend; Lux said another legend is that if you park your car on the bridge, it won't start back up. WRTV had two cars parked just off the bridge and they started up without a problem.

Yet another legend, Lux said, is that this bridge is the birthplace of the freshwater electric eel. If that eel exists, Lux said it is as elusive as the troll because he's never laid eyes on one.

The bridge was built in the 1970s; the power lines went up in the 1980s.

"I don't think anyone designed this on purpose," Lux said. "I'm sure nobody thought anything about it until somebody touched it at lunch or something."

Screen Shot 2024-05-17 at 4.28.07 PM.png
Shelbyville High School science teacher Chris Lux leads a group exploring the wonders of Shelby County's Electric Bridge.

The Electric Bridge is about a 45-minute drive from Indianapolis, located near East County Road 625 East and East Shortblue Road.

On your way, you'll likely drive through a spooky stretch of tree-lined road Lux said the locals call Werewolf Hollow, located at the elbow where East Union Road turns into South County Road 625 East. The Electiric Bridge is about a mile to the north.

If you want to visit the bridge, plug this address into your phone's GPS map: 6467-6589 East Shortblue Road, Shelbyville, In.

Remember to bring your own light bulbs.

Screen Shot 2024-05-17 at 4.14.51 PM.png
Shelbyville High School science teacher Chris Lux leads a group exploring the wonders of Shelby County's Electric Bridge.

Contact WRTV reporter Vic Ryckaert at victor.ryckaert@wrtv.com or on X/Twitter: @vicryc.