Built in 1884 by J.J. Daniels, the famous Williams Covered Bridge is now closed to traffic. The two-span covered bridge over the east fork of the White River was originally built as a gateway between the two sides of the river. Residents of Williams rode horse and buggies and wagons across the bridge. Before the bridge was built, people relied on boat or ferry to take them across the stream. As time went by, the covered bridge began to be used for automobiles. It wasn’t planned that way but it was strong enough.
In the last five years, there has been two arson attempts. Local resident and Lawrence County Councilman, Keith Dillman, said these attempts have caused panic in the community.
“Arson on the bridge and people trying to burn it down. I think that’s the big fear that people have with regard to the bridge not being used and just sitting here,” said Dillman.
Residents of Williams are coming together to raise money in order to purchase items such as a surveillance camera and a sprinkler system that will put their apprehension at ease.
Lawrence County Commissioner, Bill Spreen, said the preliminary plans call for a half a million dollars to be spent on the renovation and preservation of the bridge.
“There’s going to be a new roof put on it, all new siding, fire retardant and several things to enhance the appearance of the bridge and preserve it,” said Spreen. “It’s more into preservation than the appearance of it. I think everybody has to have a little bit of identity or something that they’re attached to that they’re proud of and you know this bridge here…I can say that this bridge was actually built or paid for by some of my ancestors and I’m very proud of that.”
After 15 years and seven million dollars, a new bridge will be open to the public November 15th.