Many people in Clay County were devastated by the arson fire on April 28 that destroyed the historical Bridgeton Covered Bridge.
Brazil resident Robert Jones is one of them.
His wife, during a phone call home at 7:30 a.m., was the first person to tell him of the tragedy.
"I couldn't believe it when she told me, but I immediately got dressed and went to the bridge. Driving all the way there I was sure it hadn't really happened, that it couldn't be that bad," Jones said, explaining that the day before he had walked across the bridge before going home. It was something he did often. "But when I saw it, I was speechless. I just couldn't understand what I was seeing. It took a week before it really sunk in what had happened."
The Jones family's connection to the bridge traces back more than 100 years ago.
Sometime around the early 1840s, Jones' great-great-grandfather moved from Kentucky to purchase 40 acres of land in the Fallen Rock area of Parke County. His family traveled by horse and wagon to the grist mill in Bridgeton for supplies and crossed through the covered bridge during that time. His father had done the same while a child.
Although Jones doesn't have any such memories, he would contemplate his family's history with the town, the mill and the bridge while out on one of his many strolls through his favorite spot.
"I'd stand there on that bridge and think about my family's history," Jones said. "Standing there, it just really made you think about things like that, and how special of a place it really was."
Jones, who owns property in the quaint little town, is a member of the Bridgeton Covered Bridge Association and has volunteered to help coordinate the fundraising efforts in Clay County.
Jones will be available to answer questions and assist those wanting to have a fundraising event, sponsor one of the BCBA collection canisters at a business or other high-profile place and/or have a check presentation for the BCBA.
"Sometimes it takes a tragedy like this to bring people together. It's sad, but true. The movement has begun now and we need everyone's help to succeed," Jones said. "The BCBA wants to invite the people of Clay County, and anyone else that has memories of this bridge, to help participate in the efforts to rebuild."
Anyone interested in participating in the BCBA Bridgeton Bridge Rebuilding Activities can contact Jones at 812-240-4797.
"We have the chance of a lifetime, an opportunity to put back history instead of lose it," Jones said of people that scoff the idea of replacing the bridge. He believes, along with many helping in the rebuilding effort, that it is an honorable duty to take part in. "By doing this, we have the chance to let our children, our grandchildren and great-grandchildren walk through a covered bridge, to play under it and in it like we have. We're not going to let them down and stop their chance of having the same type of special memories we have. We just can't do that."