In 1875, Joseph “J.J.” Daniels constructed a covered bridge in Medora, Indiana. One of more than fifty bridges built by Daniels, the Medora bridge was unusual for its length—three spans that stretched 460 feet across the east fork of the White River. The bridge was built without windows and locals nicknamed it “The Dark Bridge.”
Until 1972, the Medora Covered Bridge still carried traffic along its length, the longest span of historic covered bridge in the United States. After a modern concrete bridge replaced the old structure, the seldom-used and neglected Dark Bridge began to develop serious structural decay. County residents banded together to raise money and awareness and politicians applied for funds to first stabilize and then restore the old bridge. Funds, including a National Historic Covered Bridge grant, saw the Dark Bridge stripped back down to its underlying structure, restored, and recovered.
The Medora Covered Bridge is now closed to auto and truck traffic. Walkers and bikers can still cross the White River through its dark length, and the Friends of the Medora Covered Bridge now hold a Day at the Bridge and Dinner on the Bridge the first weekend of August. J. J. Daniels would probably be astonished at the effort that has gone into maintaining his utilitarian country bridge, but might also be proud that so many Hoosiers–and visitors from around the nation and the world–still appreciate his work.
Source: Indiana Landmarks’ Hidden Gems Indiana Blog; and http://medoracoveredbridge.com
A Moment of Indiana History is a production of WFIU Public Radio in partnership with the Indiana Public Broadcasting Stations. Research support comes from Indiana Magazine of History published by the Indiana University Department of History.