Built: 1854 or 1859
Builder: Henry Wolf
Creek: Little Raccoon Creek
Location: Located 3 miles east of Rockville, south of present US Highway 36 and south of Lee Allen Bryant Nursing Home.
Reference Code: (#43) Adams 10-15N—8W
Truss: Burr Arch 1 span
Original Cost: $8,488
Repair/Restoration History: Repaired by Joseph J. Daniels in 1863. Damaged in 1875 flood. Repaired east abutment for $900 after much argument. Destroyed by 1913 flood. Replaced by Howard Bridge, built by Joseph A. Britton, in 1913.
Bridge History: The Plank Road was built between Rockville and Bellmore in about 1850. It was the first hard surface road in Parke County.
Tree stumps and roots were removed along the road bed. An elevated grade was made by plowing and moving the dirt towards the center of the road. Three rows of sawed streamers were placed on the grade and 2 inch thick, 18 feet long oak planks were nailed crosswise to the streamers.
A sawmill operated by Harmon Pulliam on the Harvey Adams farm sawed most of the wood for the first section. Another section from Bellmore to Hollandsburg was made of wood sawed by Absalom Sappenfield at his Fairplay Mill and hauled onto location by his three yokes of oxen.
The Plank Road was toll road. In a few years, the planks decayed and were damaged beyond repair. They were removed, and the road was graveled. In about 1867 or 1877, the county commissioners purchased the company’s stock and opened the road to free travel.
This road became State Road 31 then US 36 and connected the Plank Road Bridge, Billie Creek Bridge, the Hollandsburg Bridge, and the Sim Smith Bridge.
The road once extended from Indianapolis to the Wabash River. The last section of the planks was removed in the summer of 1931. The section was between the Rockville Water Works pumping station and Little Raccoon Creek. The ground there had been a swamp, and the 75 year old planks of oak and walnut were well preserved.
There are several entries in Parke County Commissioners records referencing as many as three bridges on Plank Roads over Little Raccoon Creek. These covered bridges were contracted in 1854, 1856, and 1859, However, since the Plank Road was constructed and owned by a private toll road company until 1867, it is very possible that neither of the three may have been the subject bridge.
The bridge at this site had a unique look. The opening was squared off in the Henry Wolf style but the roof face was rounded. The one picture of this bridge closely resembles the replacement Howard Bridge. An 1859 bridge cost $8,488, while an 1854 bridge had $1,000 paid in advance by the county, a $500 payment, and $1,200 paid to Henry Wolf upon completion.
The bridge was repaired by J.J. Daniels in 1863. It was damaged again in the 1875 flood. The east abutment was repaired. After much argument and a delay, $900 was paid for these repairs. It was damaged in the 1913 flood and was replaced by the Howard Bridge