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Crossroads of America - Indiana

Because it became a transportation hub during the country's Industrial Revolution, the Indiana state motto is 'Crossroads of America'. Today, Indiana still acts as America's crossroad and proudly points out its important waterways and bridges.

Covered bridges across North America
Joseph D. Conwill.
St. Paul, Minn. : MBI Pub. Co., 2004.
Few symbols of America's transportation past are as popular or evoke as much nostalgia as covered bridges. While several regional histories and guidebooks exist, no general history of the subject in America has been written in the past 20 years. This enga
     
American barns and covered bridges
by Eric Sloane.
Mineola, N.Y. : Dover Publications, 2002.
This lovingly written book presents reliable records of such vanishing forms of architecture as the American barn and covered bridge. Delightful anecdotes accompany accurate line drawings of barns attached to houses, an "open" log barn in Virginia, a "top hat" barn in North Carolina, and more. Over 75 black-and-white illustrations.
     

When the National Road first crossed the state in the 1830's, the first covered bridge was completed. Roofs were put on bridges to keep the main structure of the bridge dry. Bridges left exposed to wet rains and dampness and then scorched by the sun would quickly rot. Putting a roof on the bridge also gave it added strength.

Covered bridges were built of timber cut at or near the bridge site. The traditional size of a covered bridge was as high and as wide as a load of hay. The sides were boarded up to prevent horses from shying away at the sight and sound of boats passing on the river below. Some are painted others have natural coloring from years of weathering.

Covered bridges came to be known by other names.

  • Kissing bridge - entitles you to kiss your girl while going through the dark tunnel.
  • Wishing bridge - any wish made, while holding your breath going across, is suppose to come true.

Indiana builders

Joseph J. Daniels's bridges are trademarked with the rounded opening or portal.

Joseph Albert Britton's bridges are denoted by a squared portal with angled corners.

More builders

Some covered bridges were double barreled, with two lanes and a divider down the middle. Others have walkways for pedestrians. There were even toll bridges where you could pay $2.00 to go faster than walking.

Looking through

Parke County, Indiana is the "Covered Bridge Capital of the World." They have more covered bridges than any other county in Indiana. They hold an annual Covered Bridge Festival in which 30 plus bridges are featured.  A visit to this festival is a great introduction to the 'Crossroads of America.'

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff