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Like the mythical phoenix, Bridgeton Bridge is rising out of the ashes

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Andy McCammon photos

Left: Volunteers John Burris (left) and Dustin Roe size up an x-bracing at the staging area for the Bridgeton covered bridge reconstruction.

Right: A scale model of the new bridge, on display at the Bridgeton Mill.

He's getting on in years. His knees are shot. But Jim Brown insisted on participating in the reconstruction of the Bridgeton Covered Bridge.

He could have offered a monetary donation, but instead opted for a more hands-on approach. Brown, who lives just south of Bridgeton, drove to Indianapolis and paid out of his own pocket for a fork lift attachment for his tractor. He's been on the job ever since.

"He drove that tractor in every day and worked all day, then drove back home," said Mike Roe, president of the Bridgeton Covered Bridge Association. "This bridge is special. People really came out of the woodwork for this."

According to Roe, Brown is one of a legion of volunteers and donors who have made the reconstruction of the cherished local landmark possible. Destroyed by arson in May 2005, the Bridgeton Covered Bridge is coming together again.

The lumber needed for the project was donated by area lumber mills. Countless skilled volunteers have donated their time and expertise to the project-- designing the bridge, restoring the bridge's original stone abutments, cutting logs to size and countless other tasks.

The project is now entering its second phase. Now that the timbers for the bridge have been collected and prepared, contractors have begun the 6-8 week process of framing the timbers.

When they're done, Roe assured, the bridge will have begun to take shape.

Monetary donations have also been instrumental to the project. Bart Barnes, the covered bridge association's treasurer, said the organization has collected around $180,000 so far. He said the final cost of the bridge, minus volunteer labor and donated materials, will likely exceed $200,000.

It's a monumental task, but it's one Roe thinks the Bridgeton community will see through to completion.

"There's so much bad in the world, but then something like this happens," he said. "It just restores your faith."

Anyone interested in donating time or money to the effort can contact Roe at the Bridgeton Mill at (765) 548-0106.

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