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

Lusk Covered Bridge #2

Built: 1847, repaired 1866
Builder: Salmon Lusk, repaired by William Blackledge
Creek: Sugar Creek
Location: Located next to Lusk Mill site at the Narrows, east side of Turkey Run State Park. May have been upstream from the present bridges.
Reference Code: (#54) Sugar Creek 26-17N—7W
Truss: Lattice (unconfirmed)
Original Cost: Repair cost $800

Repair/Restoration History: Destroyed in 1875, replaced in 1882. May have been fourth bridge at this site.

Bridge History: Salmon Lusk is believed to have replaced the earlier Lusk Covered Bridge the same year it was destroyed in the New Years Day freshet. It is believed to have been a two lane covered bridge with lattice trusses. The mill and stores were never rebuilt. Prior Wright moved his businesses to Rockport, the future site of the Jackson Bridge.

County records show that William Blackledge was hired by the county in 1866 for $800 to repair this bridge. It was damaged in the same flood as the Harrison Bridge. In 1854, Salmon Lusk deeded four acres to erect a Methodist Church. It burned down during the Civil War. It was rebuilt in 1865 and became the "Lusk Chapel". Years later, John Lusk provided wood and workmen to build a churchyard fence.

Captain Salmon Lusk died in 1869, leaving a thousand acres to John Lusk and his mother. Polly Beard Lusk is remembered as a loving mother and a good neighbor. Children were welcomed to her home, always leaving with sugar lumps or fruit in their pocket, and when a neighbor was sick, she went quickly to provide aid and comfort.

Polly Lusk died in 1880, and John Lusk became a recluse. He lived alone in the house for 35 years. He boarded up the windows to her room. Accounts of John Lusk’s life say that as a boy, he once wondered away from home for several days and was found sleeping peacefully with a pack of wild hogs. As a young man, he prospected for gold in California. As a hermit, he was huge and strong with gnarled powerful hands, long bushy hair, and a matted beard. Some said he used a cheese barrel as a cupboard for his dishes and food and the lid on his lap for a table. Others describe how he picked up a heavy oak chair in his teeth and carried it around the room. When he sheared sheep he was said to grab the sheep’s tail in his teeth and throw it out of the barn.

Yet, those who knew him said he was generous and kind hearted. Andrew Robbins told how he was welcome in John’s house and how John would visit his invalid mother, bringing her fresh fish and good food from his land. He was well educated for his day, intelligent, and had memorized long passages of Bible scripture. John Lusk died in 1915 and was buried beside his parents in the grave yard of the Lusk Chapel. John Lusk’s land, which included the present Turkey Run State Park, was very valuable to him. Many lumber companies and others offered him high prices for the timber he would not sell.

Visitors were coming to Turkey Run very early. One story is told of a group coming from Bloomingdale in 1856. In 1881, sometime after Polly Lusk’s death, the Indianapolis, Decatur, and Springfield Railroad leased an area of Turkey Run. They built an eating house and bought and erected tents for camping. They called the area Bloomingdale Glens and transported the tourists from the railroad station at Marshall.

William Hooghkirk leased the park area from 1884 to 1910 and returned the name to Turkey Run. In 1910 Indiana Governor Goodrich leased the park till 1917. As the lease expiration approached, panic set in and a commission was formed to purchase the park for the state. The property was appraised at $18,000, but the uncut timber was worth much more. The sale took place on May 18, 1916. The commission had raised $20,000, but the Hoosier Veneer Company managed to purchased the land. Richard Lieber, Juliet Straus, J. D. Adams, and others led the campaign to raise the funds to buy the park from the lumber company before they began cutting the timber. They were successful in buying the land in 1917 but at a cost of $40,200, over half of which was provided by Carl Fisher, Mr. Newby and the Speedway Association.