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The Parke County Covered Bridge Festivalâ„¢ on October 11th-20th, 2019

Jessup Covered Bridge

Built: 1910, moved 1970
Builder: Jefferson P. Van Fossen, moved by Elmer Buchta
Creek: Little Raccoon, moved to Little Raccoon
Location: Located 1/2 mile north of Jessup.
Reference Code: (#15), 14-61-06,12-61-06, ca, Floridal 3/14-14N—8W Moved to Adams/Washington
Size: 155 ft long, +10’ +10’, 16 ft wide, 13’ clearance, 122 tons
Truss: Double Burr Arch 1 Span
Foundation: Concrete, moved to concrete

Repair/Restoration History: Condemned 1966. Bypassed 1969. Moved to replace Adams Bridge February 3-11, 1970. Bypassed 1988. Destroyed by flood 1989.

Bridge History: The area was once called Rabbit Town. Later, when the Pumpkin Vine Railroad was constructed, it became Jessup’s Station. Peasant Hawkins and Monroe Barney shipped a barrel of pork from Terre Haute to "Jessup". George W. Jessup lived there and gave the station the name. Jessup’s Station was once a busy station and control point on the railroad. There were six passenger trains a day and coal trains switching to nearby Mine Number One, Mine Number Two, and Bright Jim Mine. Fourteen carloads of sand passed through each day. The town of Jessup once included a hotel, stable, post office, blacksmith, sawmill, two country stores, and two gasoline stations. Earlier maps of Parke County do not show a road north out of Jessup. The preferred route to Rockville was through Coxville. The north road was probably built about the same time as the bridge. However, there was an east-west road just north of the bridge site that has now disappeared. That road may have crossed Little Raccoon near the Little Raccoon Railroad Covered Bridge. The Jessup Bridge was bypassed in 1969. After Adams Bridge, was destroyed by a flood in 1969, it was decided to replace it with the Jessup Bridge. Elmer Buchta of Buchta Trucking was contracted to make the move. He spent several days removing the south abutment. Then he jacked the bridge onto two sets of multi-wheeled dollies. On Tuesday, February 3, 1970, he began the road trip. The bridge was pulled to Catlin. It took 3 1/2 hours to get around the 90 degree curves. It was held overnight at Catlin. On Wednesday, the bridge was taken from Catlin to Rockville. It was slowed by three county bridges. Although the highway department had applied one and a half feet of fill dirt over the bridge deck, additional cribbing was required to allow the bridge to clear the concrete rails. The bridge was parked overnight in front of Ferguson Lumber. On Thursday, it was up the hill to the courthouse square. The traffic lights were removed, and the bridge was turned right onto US 36. It was conveyed to the road leading to the Adams Farm. On the weekend, disaster struck. The weather warmed and the ground thawed. The move came to a halt. Monday, the temperature dropped to zero. The ground refroze. Wednesday, the bridge was pulled across a big field and jacked into place 12 miles from its original abutments. In 1989 a flood destroyed the Jessup Bridge. A large tree broke the arches, and the bridge collapsed. It floated under the State Sanatorium Bridge, and over the US 36 concrete bridge at the Plank Road site and jammed downstream. In a telephone interview, September 11, 1990, representatives of Parke County Incorporated were unaware of the disposition of the Jessup Bridge even though they were attempting to acquire the Cedar Ford Bridge from Shelby County. They deferred to the County Highway Department. In the follow-up telephone interview, Tom Martin, County Highway Superintendent, stated that they had located the Jessup Covered Bridge and recovered the laminated floor boards. He explained that the major recurring county highway maintenance on covered bridges was replacement of the floorboards. He also acknowledged that the poplar framing of the bridge was no longer available, but he said the Jessup framing was tied together with the iron tension rods, too hard to recover from the creek, and unneeded for other bridge repair.