Destroyed historic bridge finds new home

By The Associated Press

FISHERS — A historic covered bridge that was destroyed by storms and has been stored in a barn for years will soon provide access across a river in suburban Indianapolis.

The 330-foot-long (100-meter-long) Bell Ford bridge was built in 1869 of wrought iron and timber, and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The bridge was destroyed by storms in 1999 and 2006 when it spanned the East Fork of the White River near Seymour. A bridge historian and engineer rescued the remains from the riverbed and kept them in his barn in Jackson County with the hope the bridge would one day be restored.

The Indianapolis Star reported that his dream is about to come true: The Bell Ford bridge is to be installed in Geist over the Fall Creek, connecting Geist Park and a nature trail in Hamilton County.

"He kept detailed instructions on how to put it back together in case he died before anyone wanted it," Hamilton County Commissioner Mark Heirbrandt said. "But we came along before that day arrived."

Jackson County commissioners didn't have the funds to fix the Bell Ford, so they agreed last fall to give it to Hamilton County, Heirbrandt said. In return, Hamilton County officials agreed to donate $25,000 to Jackson County's Round Barn Restoration Fund.

The restoration is expected to cost $3.8 million, with $2.7 million coming from a federal grant and the rest coming out of Hamilton County's pocket.

The pedestrian bridge is expected to be in place by late summer 2024, said Brad Davis, the Hamilton County highway department director. It will be about half its original length and 14 feet wide. Officials said the remains could be placed in another spot in the future.




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