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The Covered Bridges
of Indiana

Indiana’s covered bridge era began
in the early 1830s when the National Road first crossed the
state. The first Hoosier covered bridge was completed in 1835
in Henry County. It is estimated that between 400 and 500
covered bridges may have existed in Indiana. The American
Society of Civil Engineers suggests that perhaps 10,000
covered bridges were built in the United States between 1805
and 1885.

Because the bridges were
constructed with timber, they were covered to protect them
from the elements. They were often the largest covered area in
a community and were sometimes used for revival meetings,
weddings, and political rallies.

Two major Indiana covered bridge
builders, Joseph J. Daniels and Joseph A. Britton, lived in
the Rockville area, and a third, A. M. Kennedy working with
his sons and grandsons, lived in Rushville.

This explains the concentration of
covered bridges in Parke and Rush counties. Between them, they
built 158 bridges in Indiana.

In 1930, the Indiana Historical
Society formed the Covered Bridge Committee. The committee’s
objectives were the collection and dissemination of
information about covered bridges and their builders. They
compiled a directory showing the location of each of the then
existing 202 covered bridges in Indiana.

R. B. Yule, engineer of Bridge
Investigation and Location, Indiana Highway Commission and
chairman of the Covered Bridge Committee, stated in Highway
magazine, October 1938, “The committee hopes to have several
good examples of covered bridge construction in parks or on
secondary roads preserved for the use and interest of several
generations to come. Like most engineering works where motion
is not involved, careful maintenance will keep for us
indefinitely these useful relics of a past generation.”

In 1998, however only ninety-three
covered timber bridges remain in the Hoosier state. Many
bridges have fallen victim to local apathy, the forces of
nature, arson, and/or careless driving. Greene County’s only
covered bridge had recently been restored at a cost of
$300,000 and was scheduled to reopen in the spring of 1998.
Vandals knocked a hole in the 15-year-old wooden structure
forcing the Greene County Landmarks Foundation to delay the
reopening and look for funds to repair the damage.

The Indiana Covered Bridge Society
is trying to raise awareness and appreciation of these
vanishing structures and their impact on local history.

For more information about the
society, contact:

Indiana Covered Bridge Society Inc.
725 Sanders Street
Indianapolis
IN 46203-1856.

Updated address, (see comments
below):

Indiana Covered Bridge Society Inc.
9832 Skipjack Cove,
Fort Wayne, IN,
46835-9603
http://www.indianacrossings.org/

The information above is based on information
from “Focus on Local History” an Indiana Historical Bureau
publication from 1998.
http://www.in.gov/history/files/coveredbridges.pdf


Three common
types of

covered bridge
construction are:


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