bellford collapses

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Bell Ford Bridge Collapses
Bell Ford Bridge. Photo by Ronald Branson, January 4, 2006
Bell Ford Bridge,[WGN 14-36-03]
January 4, 2006

Jackson County, IN, January 2, 2006 - The east span of the Bell Ford Covered Bridge collapsed into the East Fork of the White River Monday morning, the portal end still resting on its abutment.
     The western span of the two-span bridge had collapsed into the river in February 1999 during a winter storm after having been closed to traffic for some 30 years. The failure is attributed to the "rotting wooden understructure."
     Jackson County Highway Superintendent Mike Garris plans to assess the situation with an equipment contractor to determine whether the eastern section of the bridge can be dragged from the river.
     The 330-foot Post Truss bridge once served Indiana Route 258 connecting Cortland and Seymour. The span was built in 1869 by Robert Pattison. It is sited as the last surviving Post Truss bridge in the world.
     In July, engineer Jim Barker had completed 85 percent of the iron work needed to replace the western span. At that time, commissioners agreed to oversee restoration of the Bell Ford Bridge along with the Medora bridge and a third covered bridge at Shieldstown.
     The state had earmarked nearly $1 million, according to a fund raiser and another $90,000 to $100,000 would have restored the bridge, he said.

In a January 4 email to James Crouse, a covered bridge society member, Ronald Branson wrote: "Thought I'd share my findings at Bell Ford this morning. While it appears much worse today, you can actually see that (because of the debris pattern) the lower wrought iron chord appears to be intact ... as this was a hybrid structure being as much iron as wood, saving the lower chord could still allow for restoration ... when I arrived this morning, heavy equipment was already arriving to build a road to the edge of the river that other equipment, tentatively they are planning to bring in a large crane, can be moved into place to lift the structure out. I'll keep checking in on her again tomorrow ... attached is a photo from today and there are more on the site at
[Thanks to James Crouse for sharing this information - Ed.]

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Joe Nelson, P.O Box 267, Jericho, VT 05465-0267
This file posted January 5, 2006