Three covered bridges in Fountain County have been named to the National Register of Historic Places, which may help secure their futures.
The recent designation of the covered bridges — Cades Mill, Rob Roy and Wallace — opens the doors for more grants and fundraising opportunities for the Fountain County Art Council Historical Committee.
Kurt West Garner, an independent grant writer, prepared the applications in late 2019. His efforts to get the bridges on the national register had to first pass at the state level. The committee learned May 24 that the bridges were officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
“Covered bridges are such an iconic part of rural America, and you know such a really an iconic part of the Hoosier state, but anything that we can do to preserve them I think is worthwhile,” Garner said.
The Rob Roy Covered Bridge, south of Attica, was restored in 2017 after nearly three years of fundraising. The bridge dates back to 1860 and crosses Big Shawnee Creek and is the only one of the bridges that is open to vehicle traffic.
The Wallace Covered Bridge was built in 1871 and spans Sugar Mill Creek. The committee hopes to restore the Wallace bridge after renovating Cades Mill.
The Cades Mill Covered Bridge, outside of Veedersburg, is the oldest covered bridge in Indiana. Constructed in 1854, the bridge is still standing but is in need of restoration, said Carol Freese, president of the Fountain County Historical Committee. The bridge is currently at risk of caving in, according to engineering firms hired by the historical committee.
“We are really excited about the national recognition because it hopefully brings attention to the importance and historical value of the three covered bridges that we have in Fountain County,” Freese said.
Restoring Cades Mill bridge will take $400,000. The committee is currently about halfway to its goal.
To raise the necessary funds, the committee is selling Cades Mill ornaments, stenciled bricks from an old school house in Fountain County and other art from local artists, as well as applying to lots of grants. They will conduct a farm to table fundraising dinner later this month. The dinner is currently sold out but Freese said they hope to do another one in the fall.
Donations for the restoration of Cades Mill bridge can be made to the Western Indiana Community Foundation, P.O. Box 75 Covington, IN 47932.
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