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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Cross this bridge at a walk

Cross this bridge at a walk
Kodak Monitor Six-20 Anastigmat Special
Kodak Gold 200 (expired)
2013

I won’t soon forget the day I made this photograph. Margaret and I were still dating, and I took her to Bridgeton to see the bridge.

Bridgeton had always been a private place for me, a place I go when life has knocked me around hard and I need to reconnect with the good in the world. At first it was because the people of Bridgeton had kept the original 1868 bridge in good repair. Later it was because after arson destroyed that bridge, those same people rallied to build a new bridge.

It was this day I shared this little piece of my heart with her. Funny it felt that way, because some years before I told the world about Bridgeton on this blog here.

It was a truly lovely day. Margaret packed a light picnic lunch, which we shared on a grassy area alongside the bridge. She asked a passerby to photograph us with another film camera I had along. I can’t find that photograph!

If you’re wondering why this photo on Kodak Gold 200 is in black and white, it’s because Dwayne’s processed it in black-and-white chemicals by mistake. On this photo, at least, it worked out fine.

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Film Photography

single frame: Cross this bridge at a walk

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Bridgeton Covered Bridge

Inside the Bridgeton Covered Bridge
Olympus Stylus Epic Zoom 80
Fujicolor 200 (probably)
2006

I love this photograph so much that I have a print of it framed and hanging in my home. It’s from a visit I made to the covered bridge at Bridgeton, in Parke County, Indiana, in 2006, just after it was built. Arson claimed the original 1868 covered bridge here.

When I was in my 20s, I drove up to Bridgeton and its first bridge when I needed some time alone to think. (I told that story here.) So when the new bridge was completed, I made a trip as soon as I could. I’m glad I did, because since then these beams have been covered in graffiti. I don’t mind graffiti, actually. I’m just happy to have this photo of the naked beams.

Film Photography

single frame: Inside the Bridgeton Covered Bridge

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Film Photography

Color film, black-and-white results

Not long ago the folks at the Film Photography Project came upon a cache of expired-since-1995 Kodak Gold 200 color film in size 620, and offered it for sale in their store. It was pricey at $14 per roll, but wanting to try a couple of my 620 cameras I bought two rolls. I shot the first roll in April on Route 66 using my Kodak Brownie Hawkeye and was disappointed with the faded, grainy results. See them here.

Kodak Monitor Six-20

Recently I spooled the remaining roll into my Kodak Monitor Six-20. I wanted to use the Monitor again anyway, and I wanted to try the Kodak Gold in a camera where I could control the exposure so I could better test the film’s capabilities. That the Monitor has the fine Anastigmat Special lens only sweetened the deal.

Then the processor dunked my $14 color film into the wrong chemicals and I got black-and-white images back. At first, I was severly disappointed. But quickly I recognized that the images had potential. Contrast was poor, but a touch of Photoshop cured that ill and brought these images right to life.

I took the Monitor with me to Bridgeton. I had three cameras along on that trip: the Monitor, my Pentax Spotmatic, and my Olympus XA. The Monitor did the best job of capturing the sky, and edged the other cameras for sharpness.

Bridgeton covered bridge

I find it difficult to frame shots with the Monitor’s tiny bubble viewfinder. This bridge portal was all akimbo in the original image, so I straightened and cropped it for best effect.\

Cross this bridge at a walk

My house faces east, and sometimes the morning sun bathes my little front garden in some delicious light. All too often I’m rushing to work and can’t stop and really enjoy it. But the light was right one lazy Saturday morning, so I put my Monitor on a tripod and took this photograph from my front stoop. I also shot the scene in color with my digital camera; see that shot here for comparison.

Early morning front yard

My Monitor is not a pleasure to use. I’ve already mentioned the difficulties framing shots. The shutter button has a long travel and is stiff at the end where it trips the shutter, so I usually trip it by sticking my finger in by the lens barrel and moving the linkage. And the wind-stop feature on mine doesn’t work well, so I have to work around it. But I so love the results I get from it that I am likely to shoot it again. Perhaps I will soon, because the Film Photography Project offers fresh, hand-respooled 620 films now.

See more from this roll, along with some great color shots from my Monitor, in my Kodak Monitor Six-20 gallery.

Other 620 cameras in my collection: Kodak Six-20 and Kodak Duaflex II.

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