Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Bridges of Parke County - Day Two

I am glad that I stopped at the Mill on the first day of my trip.  As I was wandering around there, I saw a Ranger and asked him if there were maps to the Bridges in the area.  He said that he would check and provided me with one.  I'm glad that he did, because I would have never found most of these Bridges otherwise.

Parke County is home to at least 30 Covered Bridges.  It probably has the highest concentration of covered bridges in the country, if not the world.  I guess one of the reasons is because there are all sorts of rivers that snake through the area.  Probably the other reason is that at some point, they decided to preserve these bridges.  For the most part, they appeared to be in pretty good shape (considering that many of them are over 100 years old).

Recently, they started to host a Covered Bridge Festival.  I'm not sure what that entails but it sounds like unless you are really interested, it's a good time to avoid this area.  It's kind of a shame because it falls around the time that the colors would look pretty nice.  However, I'm sure it brings some money into the area and gives a reason to keep maintaining these bridges.

I'm kind of surprised that Michigan doesn't have more covered bridges.  It seems like there are plenty of rivers here and consequently, there would have been many bridges.  Maybe they fell into disrepair too soon or they were replaced with tougher bridges.
 So I got up the next morning, ate breakfast, checked out of the hotel and started on my quest for more bridges.  The first bridge was down the river from the last bridge I saw the night before.  It was also right across from the hotel, so it wasn't too far of a drive.
 The Beeson Bridge is another Burr Arch Bridge.  It was built in 1905 by the Frankfort Construction Company.  It is 55 feet long.  The bridge was closed at its original location in 1969 and in 1979 it was moved to its current location by Billie Village (which is another one of those festival type towns).
 The Catlin Covered Bridge was built in 1905.  It spans 72 feet and was built by Clark McDaniel.
 In 1961, it was moved to it's current location on a golf course.
 Even on a golf course, a covered bridge can't help but looking idyllic.
 This style of barn is fairly popular in the area.
 The McAllister Bridge was built in 1914 by Joseph Britton and Son.  It spans over the Little Raccoon Creek.
 These bridges are called Burr Arch Bridges because of the arched truss they have as support.  I'll have to admit, it looks pretty neat.
 The other side of the Bridge.
 The Crooks Bridge is a little further away.  There is a pretty shaky looking concrete span next to it.  It made for a little driving adventure.
 The Bridge itself was built in 1855 by Henry Wolf.  Apparently, it was moved to its currently location in 1863 after the road supporting it was abandoned.
 It is another Burr Arch.
 The weather looked kind of threatening all day.
 The Nevins Bridge was built in 1920.  I think this may be part of the reason why there are still many of these bridges around.  Compared to many other places, they are still fairly new.
 This is the Bridgeton Bridge and it was originally built in 1868 by J.J. Daniels.  It was closed to traffic in 1969.  In 2005, the bridge was destroyed by arson but the person who set fire to it was caught.  In 2006, a replica was built.  It sits next to a mill, which apparently is one of the longest continuously running mills (you can still get flour there).
 A slightly better shot of the Bridge itself.
 And a shot of the mill, itself.
 I kind of like this shot.
 One more shot of both of them.
 The Conley's Ford Bridge was built in 1906.  It is the only covered bridge in the area that was built out of pine.
The Narrows Covered bridge spans Sugar Creek and was built by Joseph A. Britton in 1882.  It is 137 feet long and replaces a bridge that was built here in 1847.  There were a couple prior bridges that were destroyed.   The County was originally going to build an iron bridge, but the wooden bridge was much cheaper.
 It's kind of neat because there is a proper bridge right next it.  So it was one of a few bridges where I could get a shot like this.
 The Cox Ford Bridge was built in 1913 by Joseph Britton.  It was built to replace a steel bridge that was lost in a flood.  It crosses the Sugar Creek.
 The Wilkins Mill Bridge was built in 1906 near a mill and store that was operated by George Wilkins.  At one time, the creek it spanned was known as Mill Creek, now it is known as Sugar Mill Creek.
 The Bowsher Ford Bridge was built in 1915 by J.A. Britton or his son.  It is 92 feet long.
 The Mill Creek Bridge was built in 1905 and is known by several different names, either "Thompson's Ford Covered Bridge," "Tow Path Covered Bridge," or "Earl Ray Covered Bridge".  It spans the Wabash Creek.  The Tow Path name comes from the fact it was the Tow Path for the Wabash and Erie Canal that crossed it.  The Thompson name comes from the owner of a mill that was nearby.  It's kind of neat.
 The last Bridge I saw was the West Union Covered Bridge.  It is the longest standing covered bridge in Parke County (at 337 feet long).  It is however, no longer in use as it was replaced by the nearby bridge.  There is not much left of West Union.  This road was originally part of the Indiana Highway System and connected Fort Wayne to Terre Haute.  The Wabash Erie Canal used to run to the west and there used to be a line of the Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad.  Both are gone now.  From its looks, the Bridge is almost gone.
And I end with the railroad depot in Rockville.  The tracks that passed by it are completely gone and it now serves as a tourist information place.

It's kind of nice to go through an area where they seem to embrace their history.  For the most part, it seemed like the bridges were pretty well maintained.

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