We saw some of the festival spots in part 1 of the Covered Bridge Festival post, in part 2 we cover the covered bridges! 31 such bridges can be found in Parke County. Several color-coded trails snake through the county with stops at a hand-full of those bridges. All you have to do is watch for the small square signs of your color that indicate the direction to take. We followed the ‘red’ trail on this visit and saw five bridges.
1. McAllister Bridge: Joseph A. Britton and Son built the burr arch covered bridge over Little Racoon Creek in 1914. This bridge could have used a paint job. However, it remains in service in its 100th year.
2. Neet Bridge: Joseph J. Daniels built the burr arch covered bridge over Little Racoon Creek in 1904. Although it appeared to be in better shape than the McAllister Bridge, the Neet Bridge is no longer open for vehicular traffic.
3. Bridgeton Bridge: Joseph J. Daniels built the first double burr arch covered bridge here over Big Racoon Creek in 1868 with an added feature: an artificial water fall. The water pours over a nine-foot dam that is a part of the bridge’s foundation. Aside the bridge is a large restored grist mill that operates using water from a small canal that branches off the creek. This mill is the oldest continuously operating mill in Indiana. The bridge remained in service until 1968. Arsonists destroyed 1 the original bridge on April 28, 2005. In 2006 local citizens and the state of Indiana provided the funds to build the replacement bridge you see now. Bridgeton had the largest festival activity we saw on our drive around Parke County. People were everywhere. We are planning on spending more time in Bridgeton next year and doing some walking around.
4. Roseville Bridge: Joseph J. Daniels built the first burr arch covered bridge at this site over the Big Racoon Creek in 1866. At the time, Roseville was a prominent town in Parke County. Arsonists destroyed 2 this bridge April 10, 1910, but it was quickly replaced with a bridge built by J. P. Van Fossen later that same year. The Parke County Commissioners had considered replacing the bridge with a concrete bridge, but apparently the costs were too high. It seems the wooden bridge was the better choice considering a concrete bridge built in 1917 to replace a downstream wooden bridge collapsed in 1930. In contrast and despite being over 100 years old, this wooden bridge continues to handle vehicular traffic. So much for progress, eh?
5. Mecca Bridge: Joseph A. Britton and Son built the burr arch covered bridge in 1873 over Big Racoon Creek. It stands east of Mecca. It was closed to vehicle traffic in 1965. This bridge could also use some paint work and has had some graffiti covered by white paint. Notwithstanding, the bridge has survived the floods of 1875, 1913, 1957, and 1990.
Historical Footnote: You may have noticed the inscription “Cross This Bridge At A Walk” above the bridge openings. These inscriptions date back to the horse and buggy days and were placed at both ends of the bridges. The rhythm of the horses hooves could do more structural damage to the bridge than the weight of a modern day truck. For the same reason, soldiers broke cadence when crossing also.