Road Trips

The covered bridge at Bridgeton, Indiana

Let’s return to my October, 2006 road trip in west-central Indiana.

When I lived in Terre Haute in the late 1980s and early 1990s, whenever I wanted to get away for awhile and be alone, I used to drive up into neighboring Parke County, to Bridgeton. The old covered bridge there was a great place to find some peace.

Bridgeton bridge in 1900. Sourced from Wikipedia.

The Bridgeton bridge was built in 1868 and carried traffic until 1967. It’s one of 31 covered bridges in Parke County. Every October the county holds a big festival to its covered bridges, and Bridgeton is one of the most popular stops.

Bridgeton bridge in the 1980s. Adrian Ross photo sourced from bridgehunter.com.

In 2005 an arsonist destroyed the bridge. This page shows photographs of the smoldering remains. Funds were raised and the bridge was rebuilt in time for the 2006 Covered Bridge Festival. This page has some good photos of the bridge under construction.

Because Bridgeton is a place I go to be alone, I avoid it during the Festival as it is packed with people. But the Festival had just ended on the late October day I made this road trip, and so I detoured to see the new bridge. I turned left off US 41 onto a country road and then, just as I did during my Terre Haute years, I drove around until I found the homemade signs pointing to Bridgeton. I’d forgotten how the Bridgeton Road winds for quite some time before abruptly entering the town and just as abruptly coming upon the bridge.

This photo is from Bridgeton Road northbound. Notice how the road is rerouted from the covered bridge to a modern bridge; the covered bridge hasn’t carried anything more than tourist foot traffic since 1967.

Bridgeton

The old bridge’s seeming permanence was comforting to me. I was simultaneously sad and excited to see the new bridge — sad to lose an old friend, but excited to see how so many people cared so much to rebuild so quickly, using the same curved Burr arch truss design of the original bridge. On this sunny day, the bridge was bright inside, and construction was visible in detail. The builders did a tremendous job.

Bridgeton

The bridge is most often photographed from the north to show the little waterfall.

Bridgeton

The neighboring Bridgeton Mill was operating then and, as far as I know, continues to operate.

Bridgeton

I felt as though my old friend had never left. Satisfied, I followed that country road north past the 10 O’Clock Line, which marked the boundary of an Indian land sale to the US in 1809, toward Rockville. There I would pick up US 36 and make my way home.

10 O'Clock Line sign

I’d like to say that I visit Bridgeton frequently. I still love visiting, but my time goes to other things. The last time I visited was in 2013 on a date with the woman who would become my wife. Here’s a photo I made of the bridge that day.

Bridgeton bridge

Next: scenes from old alignments of US 36 I encountered on my way home.

I’ve written about Bridgeton before, in more of a memoir form, here.

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17 thoughts on “The covered bridge at Bridgeton, Indiana

      • sharon hubble says:

        You can keep updated on FB at Bridgeton Mill with pictures and videos. They still mill flour for sale. I was born and raised in the Bridgeton area and wouldn’t want to live any place else.

  1. Greg Clawson says:

    Jim, I just visited and photographed it in March of this year, It is still a beautiful bridge.
    Thanks for the photos and history of it, and it’s rebuilding. Great story!

    • Indiana has enough not-wealthy rural counties that these covered bridges survived longer than they should have. Then someone realized they were to be celebrated and now it takes an act of God to have one removed. It’s kind of cool, really.

  2. Christopher May says:

    Wow, what a nice bridge! I definitely need to take a road trip down this way at some point!

  3. Marshia Stippich says:

    The original had a carved heart with my initials a plus sign and the initials of the boy that I loved at time in my life along with many others. I cried when I heard about the fire.

  4. Patty Norton says:

    My husband Bruce Norton and I (Formally Norton’s logging )
    played a micro part in the hand selecting of the timber that was donated By a lot Of Wonderful families around Parke County
    for the lumber donated was then used in the construction of the new bridge that is Standing today
    on the day that they were putting the first part of the new bridge across the creek
    I was interviewed by a reporter for Channel 10 news
    I told the reporter
    That we all stood here just a few months ago in despair
    We were all mourning the death of an old friend Who died of a senseless death and today we rejoicing in the birth of a new friend
    A new friend that we hope is around a for a very very long time !

  5. Katie Bakrevski says:

    My uncle designed the new bridge and my father helped orchestrate the construction and donations. When walking through the bridge, look up and you’ll see multiple numbered pegs. Those pegs have the names of everyone that played a part in getting the new bridge up.

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