Monroe County to get first covered bridge in four decades

June 14, 2015

A southern Indiana county is preparing to get its first covered bridge in four decades thanks to a grant that will allow it to rebuild a span that stood near Shelbyville for 90 years.

Monroe County officials are using a 2008 award from the National Historic Covered Bridge Preservation Program to repair and rebuild the Cedar Ford Covered Bridge that once spanned the Little Blue River north of Shelbyville.

The bridge was dismantled in 1975 to make way for a new bridge and is in storage in Greene County, The Herald-Times reported.

The Cedar Ford bridge will be rebuilt near the location of a bridge that burned in 1976, just a few years after the county spent $20,000 to restore it.

That bridge was in use until the 1960s and carried traffic over Bean Blossom Creek for nearly 105 years.

The work on the Cedar Ford bridge is being done by Indianapolis-based VS Engineering. Project manager Jim Barker said the bridge's parts aren't in perfect condition but that his firm will be able to use about a third of the structure's original timbers, which were cut in the 1870s.

The bridge was designed by the Kennedy Brothers, and Barker said engineers will use their preferred Burr Arch truss design and trademark portal decorations —down to the mock keystone at the top of the entry arches — when they recreate the bridge.

"It will be 30-percent Kennedy (Brothers) cellulose, 98-percent Kennedy design," Barker said.

Once preliminary work is done, crews expect to complete the bridge within eight months.

Barker said the Cedar Ford bridge was on the verge of being unsalvageable when it was acquired. He said the goal of the project is to preserve "a piece of history that was very nearly lost."

"You don't have to throw these things away" and lose the history and the stories that go with them, he noted.


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