Covered bridges always intrigued me, ever since I was a little boy. They were giant hallways, juddering from one side of a river to the other, as my dad drove our old Plymouth Duster around southern Indiana.
I’ve managed to show my kids this bit of civil engineering history as we’ve made our own ways around southern Indiana. Things are quite a bit different — the cars are smaller, but they’re air conditioned — but the car still judders across the bridges and we enter a wooden tunnel, trusting the engineering of craftsmen 150 years ago to keep us safe. (So far, so good.)
You can experience the same history with Indiana’s Covered Bridge Loop. They’re inviting travelers to Southern Indiana to “step back into time and marvel at the workmanship put into wooden bridges built throughout the 1800’s by skilled craftsmen.”
The Covered Bridge Loop covers nine bridges in six counties. It’s 216 miles long, and snakes through Bartholomew, Brown, Decatur, Jackson, Jennings and Lawrence counties. You can make a day of it, but that wouldn’t be any fun. Instead, make it a weekend sight-seeing trip and stay in some of the B&Bs in the area (personally, I’d stop in Brown County for dinner and the Artist’s Colony Inn, but that’s just me).
According to the Jackson County Visitors Center, “the Loop features single, double, triple span bridges, and the only remaining double tunnel bridge in Indiana all built by well-known master craftsmen. Four of the bridges are featured on the National Register of Historic Places.”
You can also see the oldest covered bridge in Indiana, in Brown County, which was built in 1838, or the longest three span covered bridge in the entire country, which sits just outside Medora, Indiana.
Visitors will tour two significant covered bridges on the Loop through Jackson County both built by master builder Joseph J. Daniels. The magnificently restored triple-span Medora Covered Bridge, built in 1875, is an example of Daniels’ use of Multiple King Post Truss construction with Double Burr Arch design. The Shieldstown Covered Bridge, built one year later, was the last covered bridge constructed in Jackson County. Built at a cost of $13,600, the two-span bridge is 355 feet long and spans the East Fork of the White River.
You can also pick up the Indiana Covered Bridge Loop brochure, which is complete with a map, GPS coordinates and a brief description accompanied by bridge photos. Pick it up at the Bartholomew, Brown, Decatur, Jackson, Jennings, and Lawrence County Visitors Centers, or find it