In the early 1830s, the first National Road crossed Indiana, ushering in the era of covered bridges. The first Hoosier covered bridge, in Henry County, was completed in 1835. At one time, as many as four or five hundred covered bridges existed throughout the state.
Roughly a third of the state’s covered bridges were constructed by just three builders. J. J. Daniels and Joseph Britton from the Rockville area and A. M. Kennedy from Rushville built 158 covered bridges. That’s why there are so many covered bridges in Parke and Rush counties.
The bridges were covered because they were made of wood and needed to be protected from the weather. In some communities, the bridges were the largest covered area available, so they were also pressed into service for meetings, weddings, and political rallies.
Over time, many bridges fell victim to the forces of nature, arson, traffic accidents and apathy. By 1998, only ninety-three covered wooden bridges remained in Indiana.