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Indiana Historical Bureau

IHB > Historical Markers > Find a Marker > Cataract Falls Covered Bridge Cataract Falls Covered Bridge

Cataract FallsCataract Falls

Cataract Covered Bridge, Lieber State Recreation Area, Cataract, Owen County

Installed 2008 Indiana Historical Bureau, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, and Owen County Historical and Genealogical Society.

ID#: 60.2008.1

Text

Side one:

An 1838 state law gave county commissioners power to build bridges for "public convenience" and to raise taxes to pay for them. Owen County Commissioners contracted 1875 for a "Smith's High Double Wood Truss" over Eel River in Jennings Township to replace bridge destroyed by flood. This bridge finished 1876. (309 characters/spaces)

Side two:

Served as pedestrian bridge after vehicular traffic was diverted to new concrete bridge finished in 1988. Indiana Department of Natural Resources began extensive repairs to this bridge 2000. Listed in National Register of Historic Places 2005 and rededicated 2006. Only remaining covered bridge in Owen County. (310 characters/spaces)

Annotated Text

Cataract Falls (15 characters/spaces)
Covered Bridge(14 characters/spaces)

Side One:

An 1838 state law gave county commissioners power to build bridges for “public convenience” and to raise taxes to pay for them.(1) Owen County Commissioners contracted 1875 for a "Smith’s High Double Wood Truss"(2) over Eel River in Jennings Township(3) to replace bridge destroyed by flood.(4) This bridge finished 1876.(5)
(309 characters/spaces)

Side Two:

Served as pedestrian bridge(6)after vehicular traffic was diverted to new concrete bridge finished in 1988.(7) Indiana Department of Natural Resources began extensive repairs to this bridge 2000.(8) Listed in National Register of Historic Places 2005(9) and rededicated 2006.(10) Only remaining covered bridge in Owen County. (11)
(310 characters/spaces)

 

(1)Laws of Indiana (revised), 1838, p. 500 (B060123).

(2)The Owen County Commissioners agreed to pay $14.35 per linear foot of bridge along the bottom cord. Commissioners' Record (Oct. 22, 1875), 141 (B060119).

Robert Smith founded the Smith Bridge Company and moved it from Tippecanoe City, Ohio to Toledo, Ohio in 1867. George E. Gould, Indiana Covered Bridges Thru the Years(Indianapolis, 1977), 8 (B060031).

Smith owned at least two bridge design patents, one in 1867 and another in 1869. Robert W. Smith, "Improved Bridge," U.S. Patent No. 66,900 (July 16, 1867) (B060078) & Robert W. Smith, "Improved Bridge," U.S. Patent No. 97,714 (December 7, 1869) (B060079).

There is not complete agreement about the truss type of the Cataract Falls Covered Bridge.

The following sources list Cataract as a Smith Truss #3:
Gould, Indiana Covered Bridges Thru the Years, 8 (B060031).
Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Outdoor Indiana (September/October 2005) (B060167).

The following sources list Cataract as a Smith Truss #4:
Arthur Gatewood, Jr., Indiana Covered Bridge Location Guide (Arthur Gatewood, nd), 3 (B060001).
Indiana Historical Bureau, Indiana Covered Bridges Database, www.in.gov/history (accessed 1/17/2007) (B060118).
Indiana Historical Bureau, "Focus on Local History," No. 16 in Indiana History Bulletin, Vol. 69, No. 1 (March 1998), ii (B060059).

The following sources list Cataract as a Smith Patent Truss:
Bryan E. Ketchem, Covered Bridges on the Byways of Indiana (Oxford OH, 1949), 145 (B060035).
National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, Cataract Covered Bridge, 199-101-10014 (B060037).
Oscar Lane, ed., World Guide to Covered Bridges (National Society for the Preservation of Covered Bridges, Inc., 1972), 16 (B060068).
Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology, Preserving Indiana (Fall/Winter 2005), 9 (B060155).

The following sources list Cataract as a Warren Quadrangular Truss:
The Owen Leader (1995) Volume 82 (B060154).
Wayne M. Weber, Covered Bridges in Indiana (Midland, MI, 1977) (B060036),
R.B. Yule, Covered Bridges (Indiana Highway Commission, 1971), 1 (B060069). Yule claimed that the Smith Patent Truss was also known as a Warren Quadrangular Truss.

(3)Cataract Falls Covered Bridge is located on Mill Creek. Mill Creek was known as Eel River in the 1870s, as shown in an atlas of Indiana. Maps of Indiana Counties in 1876 (Indianapolis, 1968), reprinted from: Illustrated Historical Atlas of the State of Indiana (Chicago, 1876) (B060258). Both names refer to the waterway located in Jennings Township and the waterway feature, Cataract Falls.

(4)Owen County Journal, August 5, 1875 (B060151); Owen County Journal, August 12, 1875 (B060152); and Owen County Journal, August 26, 1875 (B060153).

(5)Commissioners' Record, December 4, 1876, pp. 285, 287 (B060121). The commissioners paid $2,009 for the bridge.

The Commissioners also paid WN Troth $30.00 for services rendered in the construction of the bridge on the same day they paid the Smith company. Wm. Baragan received $1,678.84 for stonework from the Commissioners December 2, 1876. Commissioners’ Record, December 2, 1876, p. 276 (B060120).

(6)"New North Cataract Road to be Open for Festival," Spencer Evening World, September 26, 1988 (B061498). The Spencer Evening World reported that, "Owen County’s only remaining covered bridge, is to be retained as part of the Cataract Falls area and utilized as a foot bridge for park visitors."

Beam, Longest & Neff, Inc., Owen County, Indiana: Bridge Inventory Rating and Safety Inspection, Phase I, 1990 (Indianapolis, 1990), 92 (B060083). This report noted, "Bridge used for pedestrians walk."

(7)The 1986 Owen County bridge inventory showed Cataract Falls Covered Bridge still carried vehicular traffic despite recommendations dating back to 1978 that it be replaced. The 1986 report noted that this bridge had to be replaced because the floor beams rated low and the "lower chord of truss rotted" at load bearing areas. Beam, Longest & Neff, Inc., Owen County, Indiana: Bridge Inventory Rating and Safety Inspection, Phase I, 1986 (Indianapolis, 1986), 95 (B060082) and Associated Engineering Consultants, Inc., Board of County Commissioners, Owen County, Indiana, Bridge Reinspection Study & Report (Owen County, Indiana, February 1978) (B060080).

Work began on the new bridge on December 17, 1987. The October 31, 1987 monthly report for the construction project states, "All items completed. Waiting on sod maintenance term to expire on Nov. 10, 1988." Indiana Department of Highways, Monthly Progress Report, October 31, 1988, Contract No. R-17020, Project N. C-101 (1), State Form 2323, Microfilm 1164/10.613, Indiana Department of Transportation (B061497).

To further substantiate the bridge was opened in 1988, two Spencer Evening World articles indicated that the new bridge would be ready by the Cataract Bean Dinner and Flea Market scheduled for October 1-2, 1988. "New North Cataract Road to be Open for Festival," Spencer Evening World, September 26, 1988 (B061498) and "It’s Cataract Week Here in Owen County," Spencer Evening World, September 29, 1988 (B061499).

(8)2002 Biennial Report, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, www.in.gov/public/2002report/index.html#engineering (accessed 1/27/2007) (B060159).

(9)National Register of Historic Places, Indiana, Owen County, www.nationalregisterofhistoricplaces.com/in/Owen/state.html (accessed 2/13/2007) (B060259).

(9)Spencer Evening World, May 5, 2006 (B060156).

(9)Indiana Historical Bureau, Indiana History Bulletin, Vol. 69, No. 1 (Indianapolis, March, 1998), ii (B060059).