In 2007, I was invited to write an article in the Covered Bridge Almanac published by Hayden Publishing Company.
The booklet was compiled by Luke Moody, edited by Chandler Joseph and Madison Rose. Galen R. Frysinger was the photographer.
I was very pleased to submit to them what I knew of Parke County people places and things that make it a great and beautiful place to be during festivals and anytime.
This morning, I ran across my copy of the 2007 Almanac , in a storage tub.
Since I no longer have the opportunity to visit the place I remember so well; a reread of the article titled “ Three Generations of Covered Bridge” was a welcome find.
Hopefully, you will find the article interesting also.
Look no farther than beautiful Parke County in central Indiana for proof of some premium work that caring hands and skill built into masterpieces in the entire country-- Parke County Covered Bridges!
Several decades ago , J.J. Daniels , one of Indiana’s finest bridge builders was called upon. His mission was to direct the construction of the wooden structures. So it was, in time, and many man hours later over fifty covered bridges built over country roads and trails of the countryside.
Three generations of the Kennedy family beginning with Archibald “Mike” Kennedy had a love for their jobs and contributed a similar amount of quality workmanship building covered bridges across Indiana. Those artisans knew how to make native timbers fall in just the right direction.
Today , fewer remain. April 2005, one of the well-maintained landmarks was destroyed by an arsonist. The folks in Parke County lost one of their masterpieces and folks nationwide were disappointed and sad. Love of the community and of that beautiful old bridge ,careful planning, volunteers donations and prayers swept away the embers that resulted from one of the country’s worst nightmares.
She stands brave and tall today, a bridge of equal grandeur. Winds blow against her and time may tell the sad story over and over, but may fools never again shame or destroy her-- this writers hope.
Ever since 1957, Parke County, often called “Covered Bridge Capital of the World” and rightly so holds a festival every year that runs two weeks in October.
Thousands of visitors travel from near and far to learn the history of Parke County, generate funds toward the upkeep of the priceless wooden treasures and other amenities. There is something for everyone. Vendors are plentiful, a shopper’s delight, as well as food is available to please every palate and so much more….
The breathtaking view of the fall foliage is an artists dream come true, very pleasing to the eyes. October’s bright blue sky overhead compliments the tall timbers, shrubs and bushes of the picture perfect landscape, as festival enthusiasts view and move about along the country roads.
One of my favorite stops is Mansfield, a hop, skip and a jump from my old home place.
Everything there always holds my fascination — the historical Mansfield Mill and the well-preserved little clapboard covered country church are musts to see.
There is something special about treading across the 247 feet bridge passing over rough-hewn timbers of her floor and gazing across crystal clear waters of Big Raccoon.
Oh, if the bridge could talk ,the stories it could tell us, memories it holds. One can hear the clumping of horse’s hooves, the creaking of wagon wheels and children’s laughter.
If we allow our imagination to linger longer, watch and listen, we might encounter the builders of long ago marveling over their masterpiece and singing a happy song as they toil away in God’s Country.
Long before Parke County Covered Bridge Festival became a reality this writer, a young sprout from neighboring Clay County, along with my family, visited an interesting couple that lived in the area. Both crocheted fine tablecloths and scarves and several patterns of quilts during the winter months. Their handiwork was of the finest craftsmanship.
I often thought they would have enjoyed the festival and all that it is. Visitors would have enjoyed, admired and purchased their work as well.
They might have enjoyed Mr. Johnson’s ghost stories , some of Parke County’s folklore at its best and yes tales such as his are still alive and well today echoing yesterdays news, awaiting your receptive ears and perked curiosity.
Hopefully, the weather will be on its best behavior. Enjoy!
I can be reached by phone at (317) 286 -7352 or drop me a line to 649 S. Grant Street, Brownsburg, IN., 46112.