Builder: Joseph J. Daniels contracted by William D. Daniels
Creek: Sugar Creek
Location: Located 2 1/2 miles northwest of Annapolis, near Bridge, and in the forgotten town of Rockport. Also on "Blue Route"
Reference Code: #28, 14-61-28, 12-61-31, ps, Penn 35-17N—8W
Size: 207 ft long +9’ +9’, 16 ft wide, 18 ft clearance
Truss: Double Burr Arch, double king post, 1 span
Foundation: Hewn stone, $6,000.00 by Brown and Company
Original Cost: $8,000 plus subscriptions
Repair/Restoration History: Repaired, inspected, and bolts tightened in 1863 by J.J. Daniels. Repaired, resided, and reroofed after damages by 1913 flood. Restored in 1977 for $75,000.
Bridge History: Also known as "Rockport Bridge" and "Wright’s Mill Bridge"
A flour mill was built in 1848 by Prior Wright at "Devils Den" after his mill at the Narrows had been washed away by a freshet on New Years Day, 1847. Flatboats were constructed here and loaded for the trip to New Orleans, floating over the shallows of Sugar Creek during high water. More business originated here during the operation of the Wabash & Erie Canal.
The mill, general store, cooper shop, blacksmith shop, two sawmills, and four dwelling houses made up the town of Rockport.. An iron smelter operated for a while using a poor grade of iron ore but plentiful and high grade coke made from local coal.
Before the Jackson Bridge was built the upper and lower fords were used. The upper ford was some distance below the mill dam. The lower ford was 20 rods west of the bridge site. The mill dam washed out in 1882, and the mill was dynamited in 1894.
A special Parke County Commissioners meeting was held on December 28,1860. It was called by Dr. Hobbs on behalf of "several citizens who had presented a petition for a bridge over Sugar Creek at Wright’s Upper Mills." At the same meeting, John Scott "presented on behalf of various citizens a petition and subscriptions for a bridge at Star Mills."
At another special commissioners meeting on January 1,1861, both petitions were approved. A sum of $8,000 was approved for each site ". ..provided the citizens would make up enough subscriptions to make up the balance on the cost of these two bridges." Byers, Milligan, Graham, and Elwood Hadley were the petition leaders at a January 17, 1861 meeting. A total of $3,307 and 300 signatures had been collected. James Johnson and Henry Wolf were appointed by the commissioners to select the site for the bridge, establish specifications and to provide an estimate.
In 1859 the commissioners had received a letter from Joseph J. Daniels on behalf of William D. Daniels proposing the two bridges at Wright’s Mill and Star Mills. In the March, 1861, meeting, bids were opened, and the contract awarded to William D. Daniels. On April 22 the contracts were signed and filed and a $1,000 advance allowed. By September 16, 1861, the masonry work for the abutments was complete and W.D. Daniels was paid $6,000 for the work subcontracted to Brown and Company. The abutments contained an unusual "cornerstone" on the south upstream side reading "Builder J.J. Daniels 1861". The Jackson Bridge was ready for final inspection by the County Commissioners on November 9,1861. On November 11,1861, he was paid $1,500 on the Jackson Contract and an additional amount of $2,500. The Star Mills Bridge was completed in December, 1861.
The Jackson Covered Bridge is the oldest standing bridge built by Joseph J. Daniels in Parke County. It is not, however, his first bridge since he worked with his father, Stephen Daniels, and had completed some of his contracts. He finished the first of his own building contracts in 1845 at age 19. He built the Hargrave Bridge in 1847 and the Union Township Bridge in 1851 in Parke County.
The bridge was built in the unstable political era of the Civil War. Joseph J. Daniels made a clear political statement in naming the bridge after Andrew Jackson in honor of his statement to John Calhoun: "To the Union, it must be preserved." When first built, the bridge portal was lettered: "The Federal Union: It must be preserved."