The Bridgeton Covered Bridge may be the most famous coverage bridge in Indiana and for good reason. Located in Bridgeton in Parke County, Indiana, it is the jewel of the crown in a county that has 31 covered bridges. Parke County fashions itself as the Covered Bridge Capital of the World and has an annual Covered Bridge Festival every October, with the Bridgeton Covered Bridge as one of its most popular stops. As an enthusiast of covered bridges, I decided to check out some of Parke County's covered bridges during a trip that took me through Indiana and stopped at the Bridgeton Covered Bridge on the way.
The Bridgeton Covered Bridge is a 245-foot-long Burr Arch two-span covered bridge that crosses Big Raccoon Creek next to a mill dam and the historic Bridgeton Mill. But this is not the first covered bridge located in Bridgeton, Indiana, as the original Bridgeton Covered Bridge had been destroyed by an arsonist on April 28, 2005. But given the identity of the covered bridge, builder Dan Collom and a group of volunteers banded together and construction on the current Bridgeton Covered Bridge was built and opened on October 1, 2006, replacing the first Bridgeton Covered Bridge which was built in 1868. There is a small park near the covered bridge to enjoy your surroundings and take pictures.
The original Bridgeton Covered Bridge replaced some previous crossings at this spot. There was an open bridge with wood piers and rails to provide passage over the Big Raccoon Creek between Bridgeton and the local area, but the bridge collapsed into the creek during a period of flooding. But with the Bridgeton Mill and the village of Bridgeton nearby, a new bridge was needed. The community's name of Bridgeton gets its name from the previous bridge that crossed the creek here. Several bids were submitted for bridge construction, and in 1868, a bid by J.J. Daniels for $10,200 was accepted for building the covered bridge. The Bridgeton Covered Bridge allowed vehicular traffic, first by horse and buggy, and later by automobile, until 1967, when a modern parallel span was built just upstream of the covered bridge.
For visitors to the Bridgeton Covered Bridge, the Bridgeton Mill is an easily identifiable landmark, and many pictures of the covered bridge include the adjacent mill. There has been a mill at this site for a couple of centuries, since 1823. The original Bridgeton Mill In an interesting quirk, there is a 200-foot-long mill dam next to the Bridgeton Covered Bridge and the foundation of the Bridgeton Mill is part of the dam. The mill burned down in 1869 but was rebuilt in 1871, ensuring that the mill and the covered bridge are woven into the local identity in this corner of Parke County.
Even before the bridge and mill came into existence, the 10 O'clock Treaty Line happened to cross right near the covered bridge. The 10 O'clock Treaty Line came into being in 1809 as a result of the Treaty of Fort Wayne, which was signed between Indiana Territorial Governor William Henry Harrison and local groups of Native Americans in Indiana led by the Miami and Potawatomi Nations to secure land for settlers to the area. As legend has it, in dealing with Governor Harrison, Miami Chief Little Turtle did not trust the surveying equipment used and would only accept a line created by the shadow of a spear thrown into the ground at ten o'clock in the morning. A historical marker denoting this treaty has been placed near the Bridgeton Covered Bridge.
I enjoyed my brief visit to the Bridgeton Covered Bridge. I found a small pull-off and park near the covered bridge to reflect for a few moments and took in some of the views of an early summer day in western Indiana. I observed that others would sit by the banks of the Big Raccoon Creek and relax by the water or go fishing. I look forward to seeing this covered bridge and others around Parke County in the future.
|Crossing the modern bridge next to the Bridgeton Covered Bridge.
|Bridge information painted on the top archway of the portals of the covered bridge. This is common to see among the bridges around Parke County Indiana, where you will find at least the name of the bridge listed on the portal.
|Inside the covered bridge to look at the truss design. Unfortunately, several people took it among themselves to leave their mark on the beams and floor of the covered bridge.
|A look at the bridge portal. There's even a staircase to walk up and down from the bridge.
|The Big Raccoon Creek's mill dam and the Bridgeton Covered Bridge.
|The Bridgeton Mill, established 1823, rebuilt 1870.
|Another look at the Bridgeton Mill. This is as much a part of the landscape of Bridgeton as the Bridgeton Covered Bridge is.
|Historic Bridgeton, Indiana. There are a number of historic homes and buildings in this community.
|The 10 O'clock Line historic marker, found near the Bridgeton Covered Bridge.
|A parting shot of the Bridgeton Covered Bridge before I continue on my way to other places.
How to Get There:
Sources and Links:
Parke County Convention & Visitors Commission - Bridgeton
Down the Road - The covered bridge at Bridgeton, Indiana
Bridgeton, Indiana - Rebuilding the Bridgeton Covered Bridge
Parke County Convention & Visitors Commission - Bridgeton Covered Bridge (#8)
Bridgeton Mill - The Bridgeton Covered Bridge Is "Indiana’s Most Famous Covered Bridge"
Our Brown County - The 10 O'Clock Line
Indiana Public Media - The Ten O'Clock Line Treaty