Preservation, Road Trips

Revisiting the covered bridge at Medora

Medora Covered BridgeI hadn’t hit the road since my family’s Route 66 trip in April, leading to considerable pent-up wanderlust. We finished a tough project at work recently, one that wrung me out, so I took a day off to wring out my stress on some twisty road somewhere. I was in the mood for visiting some places I’d been before, to visit some old friends.

One of those friends was the Medora covered bridge, which is on the original alignment of US 50 in Jackson County. Here’s what she looked like the last time I visited, in 2010, while she was undergoing a restoration.

Medora Covered Bridge

That’s why I wanted to see her again: she’d been finished for quite some time.

Medora Covered Bridge

I was happy to find that the restoration hadn’t removed the graffiti on the trusses. Leon’s declaration of love for Lorene lives to see another day.

Medora Covered Bridge

With three spans, at 431 feet, 10 inches, this is the longest covered bridge in the United States. It is great to see it returned to glorious condition.

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One of my favorite places on Earth is the
covered bridge at Bridgeton. See it here.

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20 thoughts on “Revisiting the covered bridge at Medora

    • Indiana is home to a very large percentage of the surviving covered bridges in the US. Most of them are in Parke and Putnam Counties, but a few survive in other counties, too. Among preservation causes, it’s pretty easy to rally support for covered bridges. I know one torched by arson that was rebuilt from scratch, and one destroyed by a tornado that was rebuilt with as many original timbers that they could find.

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    • Funny you should say that, because a nickname for this bridge is the Dark Bridge. As you can see, there was plenty of light inside this bright afternoon — but anything less than full sunlight makes this bridge a dark tunnel. Given how long it is, I’m sure it’s quite a spooky place when it’s dark inside.

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  1. Lone Primate says:

    Jinx! I was visiting a covered bridge yesterday, one here in Ontario (in fact, the ONLY one now here in Ontario); the West Montrose Covered Bridge. It’s only about half the length of the one in Medora, but it’s about as old.

    Till I read more closely, I thought those were photos of two different bridges. I have to say, I found the shots of the bridge in restoration, which I assumed was simply a style of open-air covered bridge, rather intriguing. :)

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  2. Sandy says:

    I love it! Glad to hear that they fixed it up. I would have loved to see it undressed and then dressed again! My best friend and I saw 45 bridges in IN last year during Spring Break, and this year we saw 38 in OH. Which is why I want to point out that the actual longest covered bridge, the Smolen-Gulf Bridge (613 feet), in the U.S. is located in Ashtabula County, OH. Granted, it is very new (2008), hence more modern looking than the good old IN red bridges. It does not have the charm of the older bridges, but by covered bridge standards, it is listed as the longest covered bridge in the US. If you ever get a chance to go to NE Ohio, check it out. There are quite a few bridges in that County and even though the Smolen-Gulf bridge is modern, it is quite impressive. For trivia purposes, I read somewhere that Ohio also has the shortest covered bridge (18 feet), also in Ashtabula County. It is the West Liberty Covered ridge. Sadly, we found out about it only after our trip, as it was not marked on the CB map we used (the bridge was built in 2011). Maybe you’ll get to see those 2 bridges one day.
    Thank you for this post and that fantastic blog of yours. And especially about pictures of covered bridges. I am a fan of them. Next year, we’re heading to Michigan!! They have only a handful of covered bridges there, but since we’re from Northern IN, we have to go!

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    • I’m sure it’s my Indiana pride showing, but I want to say the Smolen-Gulf bridge doesn’t count because it’s new!

      I am originally from northern Indiana, so I do understand how you have to go to Michigan just because it’s nearby!

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      • Sandy says:

        I knew you’d say that! I totally understand how you feel. And I will grant you that one! As I said, the new bridge does not have the feel of the old IN bridges. Wasn’t sure if you knew about the Smolen-Guld bridge. It is worth seeing though, although I recommend going when it is a little warmer than when we went in early April! If I am ever in Jackson County, IN, I will check out the Medora Covered Bridge.

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  3. N.S. Palmer says:

    Beautiful! And I agree with you about the graffiti.

    You know, you would have liked Russell Kirk, the conservative author. He was at a conference one August at Hillsdale College in southeastern Michigan and needed a ride home at the end of the conference. He lived in northwestern Michigan, on Piety Hill in a little town called Mecosta. I thought “Well, it’s in the same state, so how far can it be?” Kirk sat in the front seat of my little Ford Pinto. In the back seat was Ken Cribbs, who later became president of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. We set off for Mecosta.

    It turned out to be quite a distance, and Kirk not only didn’t drive or fly, but he also didn’t believe in freeways. We took back roads all through Michigan, going through one little town after another. Kirk knew the history of all of them: bridges, roads, train stations, and of course the towns themselves. You and he would have had a lot to talk about.

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  4. Beautiful! One of the reasons I dislike living in the west is we don’t have any real heritage, and we don’t get to see cool stuff like this. Glad you were able to “wring out.”

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  5. KeithM says:

    Jim, if you ever get a chance, you should visit Hartland, New Brunswick. It has the longest covered bridge in the world–about 1/4 of a mile.

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  6. I think Indiana can be proud that they have done a lot to show that historic preservation can pay off. I imagine that Parke County has been paid back many times for what they invested in their covered bridges.

    Do you know if that bridge had any fire suppression included in its restoration? I was watching a show about the restoration of a bridge around Princeton IL and they had added that. It didn’t seem to detract from the appearance and probably would put out a fire that some teen vandal might set.

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