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

Star Mill Covered Bridge

Built: 1861
Builder: Joseph J. Daniels, contracted by W.D. Daniels
Creek: Sugar Creek
Location: Located north of West Union but probably not same location as West Union Bridge.
Reference Code: (#52) Reserve 6-16N—8W
Size: approx. 250 ft long
Truss: Burr Arch 2 span (unconfirmed)
Foundation: Hewn stone
Original Cost: $8,000 County + $2,747 subscriptions

Repair/Restoration History: Inspected and rods tightened in 1863 by J.J. Daniels. Destroyed by flood in 1866. J.J. Daniels was paid $286.66 to remove the materials from the creek. Replaced by Harrison Bridge (#2) in 1866 and the West Union Bridge in 1876.

Bridge History: West Union was first settled in 1822 by John Beard, the Linebargers, Browns, Mellekins, and Jorias Horgar. It was first called "The Linebarger Settlement". John Beard built a grist mill on Sugar Creek in 1822. It was a log mill and with sharpened burrs could grind about three bushels of corn per hour. The first mill was replaced in 1836 by Robert Manwaring & Son and was called Manwaring’s Mill. Later it was owned by Prior Wright but operated by Zachariah Beard. The building was destroyed by a tornado and was not rebuilt.

Jeremiah H. Silar platted the town of West Union on February 18,1837. The 62 lots were located in the now almost empty triangle formed by the roads about a half mile south of Sugar Creek. A three room brick school house was built in the large triangle shaped lot at the north of the town. The Post Office was called Delta. Others records show that a West Union Post Office was open from November 3, 1886 to May 31, 1932.

West Union was another flat boat shipping point and was later on the Indiana Coal Railroad or the Brazil Division of the C&EI Railroad. When prosperous it contained a hotel, cooper shop, two blacksmiths, two shoe shops, two general stores, pork packer, railroad depot, elevator, post office, stockyards, telephone switchboard, and gas station.

In 1859, the Parke County Commissioners received a letter from Joseph J. Daniels, acting as an agent for William D. Daniels, his brother, seeking a contract to build bridges over Sugar Creek at Star Mills and Rockport.

A special Parke County Commissioners Meeting was called on December 28,1860 by Dr. Hobbs for several citizens to present a petition for a covered bridge at Rockport. At the same meeting John Scott presented a petition and subscriptions for a bridge at Star Mills.

At a special session on January 1, 1861, the Commissioners approved $8,000 for each location provided the citizens would provide subscriptions to pay for the total cost. James Johnson and Henry Wolf were appointed to select locations for the bridges and give specifications and cost.

In the summer of 1861, $2,747.00 was raised for the West Union site, with eight men agreeing to make up the difference to $8,000. For the Rockport site, $3,037 was raised, with six men agreeing to make the difference to $8,000. The contract was awarded to William D. Daniels with the provision they must be completed in 1861.

The bridge was called the Harrison Bridge in honor of President, Territorial Governor, and General William Henry Harrison and in contrast to the "sister" Jackson Bridge named after President Andrew Jackson. There are no available photographs of the Star Mills Bridge.

Although this bridge probably had the same design and was tied down like the Jackson Bridge, upstream, it did not withstand the flood of 1866.