A publisher ponders

‘Something unique’

“Saturday’s dedication of a rebuilt covered bridge celebrated a historical treasure returned to the town and a community reunited.”

That’s what reporter Betsy Reason wrote in a long article in the Indianapolis Star
about the official opening of the Moscow, Ind., bridge that replaced the 122- year-old one blown away by a tornado two years ago.

Renewing his subscription to The Blount Countian,
native Oneontan Bill Ward, now living in Carmel, Ind., included a copy of Reason’s article in his letter. He wrote that perhaps it would provide some ideas about repairing the covered bridges in such “deplorable” condition in his home county. He says reading about the bridges causes him concern. He isn’t alone.

The Blount County Commission promises restoration of those three bridges – Horton, Easley, and Swann – but delay of those projects stirs concern among others who treasure their history.

There’s obviously no plan ever to rebuild the burned Nectar bridge, unlike replacement of the 122- year-old structure in Moscow, Ind., known as the “tiny town with the big bridge.” Reason writes, “the rural Rush County community about 40 miles southeast of Indianapolis encompasses one block and has a population of 38.” But dedication of their bridge Sept. 25 brought out more than 500 people. Some of them were served breakfast on the lawn of the house next door to the new treasure.

Astride a motorcycle and sporting blue jeans and Moscow- Covered-Bridge T-shirt, Gov. Mitchell Daniels was the first to cross the bridge at the celebration, followed by builder Dan R. Collom.

The governor and the president of an architectural firm co-chaired the Moscow Covered Bridge Reconstruction Committee. The group raised nearly $525,000 including a $355,486 state grant.

The builder, his two sons, and five others constructed the bridge. The entire project was an astonishing feat of cooperation and volunteerism. Surely having the governor so involved didn’t hurt. Apparently he isn’t consumed with the issue of gambling.

Timbers for the bridge came from state forests. Thirty-six semiloads of white pine and yellow poplar provided the 150,000 board feet of lumber required. The builder donated the oak timber required for the bridge floor from his own 90-acre woods.

Members of the Indiana-Kentucky Regional Council of Carpenters contributed $425,000 in skilled labor to assemble the bridge.

Inmates of the state Department of Corrections helped, providing 6900 manhours in September in bridge construction.

Even a 17-year-old Girl Scout raised money to pay for commemorative plaques for the bridge.

“I’m just thrilled,” said Gov. Daniels. “It’s not just the results, but the way the result is produced, barn-raising style, and the spirit of community that everybody demonstrated.”

Said another member of the restoration committee, “We’ve got something unique.”

Indeed.

(Many readers will remember
Bill Ward, named for his dad, as
son of a late county Extension
agent and the late Carolyn Bynum
of Oneonta.)