HAMMOND, Ind. — Authorities say a scrap-metal dealer asked them repeatedly for permission and they told him no, but he did it anyway, dismantling part of a historic railroad bridge and selling the metal for $18,000.
Kenneth Morrison of Whiting was indicted last month on a federal charge of interstate transportation of stolen property, court records show. Morrison was operating as T&K Metals in 2014 when he allegedly dismantled the shuttered Monon Bridge, built in 1909 over the Grand Calumet River in Hammond.
The bridge was the last remnant of the Hammond Meatpacking Co., one of the city’s first industries. It was one of only two bascule bridges remaining in the region.
Morrison first asked city officials in 1991 for permission to purchase and dismantle the bridge, but his request was denied. He approached the Board of Public Works and Safety again in September 2014 for permission to purchase the bridge, records show.
“Between in or about December 2014 and continuing through in or about January 2015, without authority from the city of Hammond, and without any permit, the defendant dismantled a portion of the bridge and transported and sold the metal to scrap dealers,” the indictment alleges.
An Indiana Department of Natural Resources conservation officer ordered Morrison to stop work on the bridge after discovering he didn’t have a permit.
Morrison defended his actions in a 2015 interview, saying his removal of the structure saved the city money.
He surrendered to authorities last week and was released on a $20,000 bond, court records show.
Morrison had been sentenced to a year in prison in 1995 and ordered to pay $50,000 after he attempted to salvage a metal tank, releasing 2,000 gallons of waste oil into the Schuylkill River in Pennsylvania and another 3,000 into the ground, Hammond Historical Society officials said.